Birkenstocks take us places; to work, on a spontaneous hike, on weekend excursions, to the beach, on a long trip. Birkenstocks are with us when we are creating memories with family and friends. People who wear Birkenstocks generally become attached to their shoes. So, when our Birkenstocks start to show signs of wear, the thought of replacing them can become anxiety provoking.
Birkenstocks are highly durable and one pair can last several years. Imagine all the memories created over a decade of wearing one pair of Birkenstocks. In my blog, “Why Did You Stop Wearing Birkenstocks?”, I tell my story about my first pair. I had worn my Birkenstocks over the course of a decade, from high school through college and beyond. The memories while wearing these Birks were priceless. One day, I thought that the shoes were beyond repair. I did not have the heart to dispose of my Birkenstocks and left that task to my mother.
The internet was in its infancy when my Birkenstocks fell apart. I did not have the luxury of doing a simple Google search to learn that Birkenstocks are fully repairable. If I knew then what I know now, I would have NEVER disposed of my favorite shoes.
I had a friend give me a pair of Birkenstocks that she was no longer wearing. We happened to wear the same size and width. They were a pair of Granadas in Burgundy leather. I was thrilled at receiving her gift because Birkenstock is currently not making the Granada in Burgundy leather.
For those of you that know me, you know that I am a germo-phob. There was no way I could wear the gifted Birkenstocks without cleaning them first. I referred to my blog, “How to Care for your Birkenstocks” and followed the steps for cleaning the footbed. I cleaned the shoes twice, but the imprint of my friend’s foot was still on the footbed. This gave me the heebee geebees and I knew I would not wear the shoes until the impression was removed.
I turned to the internet to research my options. I found a great article, by Alex Ronan, about, “The Birkenstock Doctor” in the NY Times. I learned that Tom Lonergan, from iBirks, is an authorized Birkenstock repair person.
I confirmed his status as an authorized repair person from Birkenstock USA’s webpage. I also located a few cobblers locally from this same search engine. When I called the local cobblers to get a price quote, I felt that their customer service lacked, many were out of authentic Birkenstock footbeds, and the prices they quoted for recrafting were above the price listed at iBirks.
I contacted Tom via email and he responded within the hour. Tom confirmed that he had authentic Birkenstock footbeds and provided me with simple instructions on the process of sending in my shoes. Tom said that the shoes would be repaired within 2 days of receiving them. The price was in the ballpark of other mail order repair cobblers and his yelp reviews were stellar.
At the time I sent in my shoes, Tom was offering 20% of recrafting services. This included a new footbed, new soles, a pair of dura-heel inserts, free professional cork renew and leather conditioning of the uppers. Although the soles of my pre-loved Birkenstocks were not over worn, I decided to have them replaced because of the special that was being offered. I tend to wear down my Birkenstocks most quickly on the heels. Therefore, I wanted to test out the dura-heel because it is suppose to “add months of wear” to that area.
In addition to my issues associated with germs, I took into consideration the health of wearing a used pair of shoes. The footbed had already conformed to my friend’s feet and would not meet the needs of my feet. Once the dye is cast on a footbed it is permanent. It was important for me to have a new footbed and a new sole so that I could continue to remain asymptomatic in regards to back and foot discomfort.
With iBirks recrafting service, I had the choice of a regular or a soft footbed replacement. Although the original Granadas came with a soft footbed, I opted for the regular footbed. I prefer the harder footbed because they completely mold to my feet, provide more arch support, have a deeper heel cup, and offer more space on the footbed without the foam liner of a soft footbed.
Being able to customize the footbed to my preference was a real highlight for me. The only thing better would be able to make customized Birkenstocks. You know how Converse and Adidas offer customers the ability to create customized shoes? Imagine the possibilities if Birkenstock provided this feature to customers! I digress.
I had my recrafted Granadas waiting on my doorstep 8 days after I sent them to iBirks. The shoes traveled from California to Ohio (over a holiday weekend) and back in less than the time that it would have taken for me to get the shoes recrafted locally. I was delighted with the expediency of the process as well as the outcome of the workmanship.
Tom did an amazing job recrafting my pre-loved, pre-worn Birkenstock Granadas. I received a new Birkenstock original footbed (with the black imprint, not the old yellow imprint) that had a fresh application of cork renew. The new soles were perfectly attached to footbed. The old leather uppers were professionally conditioned. The recrafted Birkenstocks looked like a brand new pair of shoes.
I am completely satisfied with the recrafting experience. I was able to reuse, renew, and recycle an old pair of Birkenstocks. The cost of recrafting was a fraction of what it would have been to purchase a new pair of shoes. I was able to choose the type of footbed that I wanted and added the dura-heel which will extend the life of the soles. I essentially have a brand new pair of Birkenstock Granadas with an upper that has been discontinued by Birkenstock. In French, this would be considered “nouveau.” Meaning the Granadas are new to me, even though they are old.
I love my “Nouveau” Birkenstocks just as much as I love my brand spanking new Birkenstocks. My friend was amazed at how great her old pair of Granadas looked after the recrafting process.
Below is a video comparing the Birkenstocks before and after recrafting:
While I do not have another pair of Birkenstocks that need to be recrafted, I am already thinking about which of my older Birkenstocks might need to be resoled. It is important to resole your Birkenstocks before the cork is exposed. I think I have a ways to go before I wear down my soles that much. I will most definitely use iBirks again when it is time to resole an older pair of Birkenstocks. I am confident that the process will be equally satisfying.
I love all my Birkenstocks and never want to be in the position of having to ask someone to dispose of a worn out pair ever again.
TIP: Want more information about recrafting? If so, please refer to my most recent blog post on this topic by clicking here.
September 2018 NOTE: Since writing this blog, Tom at iBirks has sold his business to another cobbler in Colorado. I have not utilized the new owner's services, so I cannot vouch for this person's craftsmanship. If you want a recommendation for high quality Birkenstock recrafting, please read this blog here.