Did you know that Birkenstock makes some models in exquisite leather? I recently found this secret out and I had to try a pair. The exquisite leather sandals are often limited edition and tend to sell out quickly. That’s probably why I have never seen a pair in person.
What is exquisite leather? Birkenstock USA explains an exquisite leather Birkenstock is a handcrafted shoe that is completely covered in premium leather. Yes, you read that correctly, COMPLETELY wrapped in leather. There is no exposed cork. This means that even the footbed is encased by soft leather and the entire shoe is all one color. Birkenstock USA claims that this give the shoe a “sleek, upscale look”.
As a Birkenstock aficionado, I had a try a pair. My hope was to try a pair on in a brick and mortar store to determine if the shoe was worth the hefty price tag. Locating a pair of exquisite leather Birkenstocks was next to impossible since they sell out quickly. I checked at Nordstrom and a couple local shoe stores and could not find a pair.
The only way I was going to purchase an expensive pair of exquisite leather Birkenstocks online was through an authorized retailer. I went straight to Birkenstock USA to find an exquisite leather shoe. At the time, their online shoe collection had two models available in exquisite leather: the Gizeh and the Monterey.
The Gizeh was available in my size, the Monterey was only available in narrow width. Given the price tag, I decided to sleep on it overnight before making my purchase. The next day I decided to buy the Gizehs and they had sold out in my size overnight. Birkenstock USA still had the Monterey in a 38 Narrow. I have one pair of Birkenstocks in a narrow width, they are the Bellary model in smooth leather with a regular footbed. The reason I have this shoe in a narrow and not in a regular width is an entirely differently blog post. The Bellary fits my foot length wise and the leather stretched to fit the width of my foot. The arch is a little narrow for my liking, but the shoe is comfortable enough to wear on more dressy occasions.
I did not want to miss out on this special, limited edition shoe as I did with the Gizehs, so I purchased it. I figured since the smooth leather on the Bellary stretched to fit the width of my foot that the Monterey, in exquisite leather, may do the same. Moreover, the Monterey had a regular footbed which meant there would be a little more space for my foot than if this shoe came in a soft footbed.
I waited five long days for the shoes to arrive. I immediately opened the box to try them on when they were delivered. The Monterey was a gorgeous shoe. It is similar to the Arizona, yet with more elegant, rounded straps that are spaced slightly further apart. As described, the shoe was totally wrapped in exquisite leather. The shoes has a new car smell. The straps were smooth and the footbed looked luxurious. The shoe size and width were embedded on the footbed in a beautiful silver color.
With my fingers crossed, I placed my foot on the footbed and tightened the straps. I could feel the difference in the narrow width and I had not yet even take a step. There was ample room on the straps for maximum adjustability over my foot, but my little toe was rubbing against the leather. When I stood up and took a step, I could feel the narrowness of the width.
The Monterey shoe was minimalistic, yet elegant, and made my foot look more slender compared to my other Birkenstocks. However, the narrow width was just not comfortable for me. As much as I wanted to make these shoes work, I was not going to sacrifice peerless comfort for style. Afterall, I had been squishing my wide width feet into narrow shoes for decades and this has only created foot discomfort and back pain. Plus, with the price point of this shoe, I could not justify keeping them if they did not completely meet my needs.
I am often disappointed to learn that many of the Birkenstocks in women's sizes are only sold in narrow width within the United States. When one reviews the Birkenstock Collection online, one can easily learn that most styles are made in narrow and regular width. As I wrote in a previous blog, this issue makes my blood boil and the feminist in me roar with frustration. I understand that a “narrow” Birkenstock footbed accommodates both traditional narrow and medium width feet. But, my feet are wide and I require a regular footbed. I am not the only woman in the US that requires a regular width Birkenstock.
The narrow width of the shoe was the primary reason, but not the only reason that I chose not to keep the Montereys. Another major factor was that, from a distance, it looked like an EVA Birkenstock. Gasp! A $200+ exquisite leather Birkenstock certainly does not feel like an EVA with its premium leather and stellar arch support. But, to the naked eye and to a non Birkenstock wearer, it is easy to confuse the shiny, smooth leather with the shiny plastic of the EVA material.
Another reason that I decided to return this expensive shoe is because I could see glue at the seams. When I pay an exorbitant amount of money for an expensive shoe, I should not see remnants of the glue used to encase the product in leather. Quality control should have caught this.
Just like in baseball, three strikes and you are out.
Strike 1: narrow width only for women’s sizes
Strike 2: looked like EVA
Strike 3: visible glue at the seams
If Birkenstock USA offered the Monterey exquisite leather shoe in a regular width in the United States, I would give these shoes a second chance. My hope would be that future exquisite leather shoes do not have visible glue at the seams. I might also suggest that Birkenstock use a different color buckle on either the exquisite leather sandals or the EVAs, so it is easy to distinguish between the two from a distance.
I Love Birkenstocks and, much to my dismay, I did not love the limited edition exquisite leather sandals.