I live in the United States. When it comes to technology, economics, and trade, the US is considered one of the most powerful countries in the world. The state in which I reside, California, is home to Silicon Valley, the hub of the technological revolution. Living in a country with robust trade and a state which creates the best computer technology in the world, why is it that I cannot find all Birkenstock shoes in a regular width? If I can’t find a local store that carries regular width Birkenstocks, I ought to be able to order a pair online, from a major US retailer, and have them shipped to my doorstep. But, it’s not that easy.
Many of the more feminine and stylish Birkenstocks are only sold in narrow widths within the United States. This issue ignites the feminist in me and makes my blood boil because I know that Birkenstock makes most of these shoes in a regular width too. A simple cross reference to Birkenstock Group’s webpage clearly shows their collection of shoes as well as the sizes and widths in which they are offered.
Why is it that US retailers are only selling the more feminine Birkenstock shoes in narrow width to women? In the US, all the men’s Birkenstocks are offered in regular width. Why not women’s? If Birkenstock makes regular and narrow width shoes for women, shouldn’t retailers offer both in the US marketplace? Who decided that all women in the US have the same width foot? If Birkenstock makes two widths, then leave it up to each woman to decide which width best suits her foot! It seems that the US marketplace is not catering to women with normal to wider width feet, compared to Europe, where Birkenstocks can easily be located in all widths. Are only women in Europe offered the luxury of choosing different widths? Do I need to get on a plane and fly to Germany to purchase my shoes?
I have alluded to this issue about width discrimination in the past. In my blog, “The Magic of the Madrid,” I stated that finding girly Birkenstocks in my size and width was as difficult as pulling a rabbit out of a hat. In my article “How to Break-in Leather Birkenstock Straps,” I talked about how women with wide feet like swanky shoes too and yet all shoes are not created equal when it comes to width. Just a few months ago I attempted to purchase Birkenstock EVAs and learned that Nordstroms (and other US retailers) only carried them in narrow width. In my “Traveling with Birkenstocks” article, I explained how I tracked down a pair of Gizeh’s in a regular width from a German retailer. I would prefer not to purchase shoes from overseas.
Ordering shoes online from retailers outside the US is questionable because one cannot verify if sites are an authorized retailer of Birkenstocks. With the prevalence of counterfeit Birkenstocks on the rise, it can be a crap shoot placing an online order from a site you know nothing about. I like to support local small businesses, but when these stores do not carry regular width Birkenstocks, I am forced to turn to the internet.
Birkenstock shoes have helped remedy many of the aches and pains that I have experienced from wearing ill fitting shoes over the years. When new Birkenstock styles are released, I would like the opportunity to purchase them in my correct size and width. Rather than just be teased with a picture knowing that the shoe is only being sold in narrow width. It’s like these retailers are dangling the picture in front of my face and taunting me by saying “naa naa naa foo foo look at this great Birkenstock that you could have….if only your foot was more slender!”
One of the main reasons that I like to wear Birkenstocks is to prevent my feet from being constricted in a shoe that is too narrow. I have spent far too many years squeezing my wide foot into slender shoes and paying the price of discomfort in my early 40s. I have experienced calluses and pinched toes from shoes that are too narrow. I need to take care of my feet so that I can thrive into old age and I want to do this by wearing regular width Birkenstocks. I am putting my foot down and will no longer take it. I will not buy shoes that are too narrow because I want to prevent permanent damage to my body.
I will not subscribe to “vanity” sizing when it comes to my shoe size and width. My foot is wide and I embrace the fact that I have a “normal” width foot. My beautiful feet hold me upright and allow me to play with my kids and enjoy long walks with my dog. My feet deserve to be treated with respect and with properly fitting shoes because they work hard for me every single day.
We do not live in the Dark Ages or the 1940s or 50s. Women no longer need to stuff their feet into super narrow shoes because someone labeled such shoes as fashionable.
It is 2016 and these days anything goes. Comfort is king (or queen). Thanks to the internet, a window of opportunity has opened up for women to find wide width shoes. And gosh darn it, I want to be able to find stylish Birkenstocks in a regular width on the continent in which I live.
Nordstroms, Zappos, and other authorized Birkenstock retailers are offering a greater selection of Birkenstocks with more feminine uppers, but only in narrow widths. I have contacted a couple of these retailers asking about getting a certain Birkenstock they are currently selling in a regular width. The answer that I receive is often a canned response that “Birkenstocks sell out quickly”. This answer does not suffice because I know that the shoe was never offered in a regular width by their store.
Fortunately, BirkenstockUSA offers more of its styles in narrow and regular width. Although BirkenstockUSA does not offer ALL their shoes in both widths. I love the look of the Monterey in exquisite leather, but the women’s sizes are only offered in narrow. A quick cross check to Birkenstock Group tells me this model is also manufactured in a regular width as well. Why not offer both widths of this limited edition Birkenstock?
I follow Birkenstock on Instagram and from their feed I hear rumors that Birkenstock will be updating their online shoe shop this autumn. I am keeping my fingers crossed that by “updating”, this also means offering all the styles in narrow AND regular width in the United States.
I am not the only woman in the United States that requires a regular width Birkenstock. All you have to do is to read some of the comments on the Birkenstock Instagram feed or check out the reviews on Zappos. Women want and need regular width Birkenstocks. Please make them readily available to us from authorized retailers.
Customer Reviews from Zappos:
There are a number of Birkenstocks that I would have purchased had they been offered in a regular width. Companies are missing out on sales (and losing customers) by excluding women with normal to wide width feet. If any one of these authorized Birkenstock retailers offered all their Birks in regular width, I would buy all my shoes from them. Such a retailer would not be making one sale, they would be gaining a customer for life.
I Love Birkenstocks and I wish that regular width Birkenstocks were easier to locate in the United States.
Birkenstock blogger since 2016.