"Houston, We Have A Problem"
It’s no secret that I have amassed quite a Birkenstock collection. If you follow me on Instagram or Facebook, you know that I have the oiled leather Big Buckle Arizonas and the Big Buckle Madrids in Cognac, Black, and Zinfandel. That’s right, six pairs. Don’t judge me. I wear them all with love, they bring me tons of joy, and the Big Buckles are probably some of my favorite Birks ever. Therefore, when Birkenstock released the new Blue Big Buckle Arizona, I immediately bought a pair.
I ordered the Blue Big Buckles from an authorized US retailer. Sadly, when they arrived, my expectations were far from being met. The pair that I received had one set of straps that was pre-crinkled, as if it had been used. That’s right, the straps on the left shoe were wrinkled and looked a shade lighter in color than the right shoe, which was in pristine condition.
These Arizonas sat in my house for a week before I packed them up to return. They never came out of the box after the initial unboxing, so I knew that I would never wear them. How could I be happy with one botched shoe? When I spend this much money on a pair of exquisite Birkenstocks (MSRP $150 plus tax), they need to be a-b-s-o-l-u-t-e-l-y perfect!!!
Since I am obsessed with Birkenstocks, I ordered another pair, from a different authorized US retailer. I hoped that the first pair was simply “missed” by Birkenstock’s Quality Control. But, when the second pair arrived they were actually WORSE than the first pair!!! Can you believe that?? WORSE!!!
What do I mean by “worse”? Well, the second pair had exposed glue on three separate areas of the sandal!! Take a look at these photos, if you don’t believe me:
The beauty of my blog is that I have connected with other Birkenstock connoisseurs all over the world. I expressed my disbelief about the quality issues to a few other Birkenstock collectors. I quickly came to learn that one other person had ordered three separate pairs of the same Blue Big Buckle Arizonas, from three different authorized US retailers, and every single one of her Arizonas were subpar!
The first pair that she received had one set of straps that was much tighter on one shoe than the other. This particular Birkenstock collector has more Birks than me (believe it or not), she's an expert. She knows how the straps can and should feel, right out of the box. The second pair had exposed glue on various parts of the sandal. With permission, I am sharing her photos:
The final pair, which actually came from Birkenstock USA, had a misaligned sole. That’s right, the sole was glued onto the footbed unevenly!! This is just hard to believe, but it is true, take a look at this imperfect Birkenstock:
If the two of us managed to receive FIVE pairs of Blue Big Buckle Birkenstocks with shoddy craftsmanship, all within a week’s time, I wonder how many other inferior pairs there are in the US and all across the world?! What is astounding is that this person wears a different size than me. Which means that the problem is not just a bad batch of size 38s. This issue carries overs in to other sizes of Birkenstocks as well.
Birkenstock, you have been making shoes for 245 years. You have made millions of pairs. You have an incredible track record of evenly and precisely gluing on the soles to the footbeds. Why are you not getting it right with the Blue Big Buckle Arizonas? Given your centuries of experience, how hard can it be to glue a sole to the most perfect footbed ever invented?! It’s not rocket science.
There is one more thing that I think is unsatisfactory about the Blue Big Buckle Arizona, besides the aforementioned quality problems. It might just be an issue for me, but, I am curious why Birkenstock selected a black leather footbed liner, instead of blue leather?! All of the other releases, in the oiled leather big buckle line (Cognac, Black, and Zinfandel), have matching uppers and leather footbed top liners. If Birkenstock is still manufacturing the big Blue Buckle Arizonas, perhaps they can consider swapping out the black leather liner with a matching blue leather. Maybe this tiny modification will cure the bad juju!!
The black leather foot liner is not a total deal breaker, but Birkenstock could have made this release more elegant with a matching blue leather liner. The only thing that could have made this a deal breaker for me is if these were finished off with a god awful white sole!
I have not decided if I will order a third pair of Blue Big Buckle Arizonas. Some say that the third time is a charm. But, after being so disappointed I am not inclined to place another order until Birkenstock’s quality control steps up their game. Unless, of course, Birkenstock decides to release these beauties in regular width. Then I would definitely try them again. But, I know from experience, that I probably should not hold my breath for a regular width release.
Is it just me? Is it just the Blue Big Buckles? Are you encountering similar quality control issues with the Birkenstocks that you have received? If so, send me a message and let me know.
Other issues with quality control that I have discussed on my blog pertain to the shiny metallic leathers. Have your metallics scratched or peeled? If so, please read this blog.
Read about my thoughts on white sole Birkenstocks here.
Want to learn more about narrow width Birkenstocks, then check out this post and this post