When I am out and about, I always notice when people are wearing Birkenstocks. I often joke that I can spot a Birkenstock a mile away. I live in Berkeley, so I see lots of people wearing Birks. In fact, if you are not wearing Birkenstocks when walking around Berkeley, people might look at you weirdly.
If you have ever visited Berkeley, then you know that weird things are a daily occurrence. Seeing naked people attend class at Cal or protestors sleeping in dead trees to prevent them from being cut down, is just another "normal" day in "Berzerkeley". I just roll my eyes and move along.
But, when I see people around town sporting Birkenstocks in all the wrong ways, it takes everything in my will power to not say something. Afterall, who is Gina Mama to make a suggestion about how one should wear his/her Birkenstocks?
I have seen a lot of crazy things living in the Bay Area. But, what really drives me nutso is when folks aren't wearing their Birkenstocks as they were designed to be worn.
Top 10 Birkenstock Mistakes that I have seen other people make:
10. Wearing the wrong size Birkenstocks. Either too small or too big. Need help finding the right size? Go to an authorized Birkenstock retailer to buy your first pair and get fitted correctly. This blog might help you.
9. Selecting the incorrect width. Usually this means that someone opts for a narrow width Birkenstock when they really need a regular width. How do you know a Birkenstock is too narrow? Well, "spillage" occurs over the edges of the footbed. Need more information about what I mean, check out my article that I wrote on this subject.
8. Straps are worn too tight. Straps should be loose enough that your feet are able to move freely while you walk. Check out this post that I created on how to properly adjust Birkenstock straps.
7. You don't give yourself enough time to break-in your Birkenstocks before you determine that they don't work for you. How do you properly break-in Birkenstocks? Easy, you follow the protocol that I created for you in this blog.
6. You get them wet and then lay them out in direct sunlight to dry. First, don't get them wet. Second, NEVER, EVER...EVER leave your Birkenstocks in the direct sunlight. Why? Read this to learn how to properly care for your Birkenstock footwear.
5. You wear the soles down all the way to the cork. Don't do this. Think of your soles as you would the tires on your car. When the tread shows too much wear, get them resoled. It doesn't cost too much and extends the life of your Birkenstocks. How and where do you get Birks resoled? Just call Michelangelo at Custom Made Birkenstocks, he does a fabulous job with resoling, repairs, and customization.
4. Authentic Birkenstocks are not purchased. You decide to save a few bucks and purchase look-alike Birks or knowingly buy fakes. Let me be the first to warn you not to do either. Why? Birkenstocks are worth every penny because over time they feel like custom made shoes.
3. You don't reseal the cork when it begins to look dry and then complain that your Birkenstocks only lasted a few months. A little TLC goes a long way when maintaining your Birks. Resealing the cork on your sandals is super easy, here is a blog that I wrote with steps on how and when do to this.
2. You wait too long to purchase the pair you really, REALLY wanted and then they sell out in your size. You need to remember that Birkenstock retires colors and styles fairly often. So, if you see a seasonal release that catches your eye, then you need to snag it while you have the chance. Otherwise, you will regret not doing so.
1. You wear socks with your Birkenstocks. (Just kidding, to each his/her own. I just personally wouldn't do it.)
As I stated before, I have seen lots of weird things walking around Berkeley. But, nothing is as odd as seeing someone wear socks with their Birkenstocks!!!!
What are some mistakes that you have seen other people make when it comes to Birkenstocks. Send me a message with your observations. I would love to hear from you.
I wrote this blog about a year ago and have waited to post it. To be honest, I was too embarrassed to divulge that Gina Mama received a counterfeit pair of Birkenstocks from a seller on Poshmark. However, I now realize that the information that I have to share is very important to my readers. I have nothing to be ashamed of since it was not my fault. I hope this blog will help you better distinguish authentic vs counterfeit Birkenstocks.
Last year, I had spent months scouring the internet to find a pair of Miramars to give as a gift to a friend. She desperately wanted a pair, but Birkenstock had sold out of her size. If you are a fan of Birkenstocks, you know that the black and cognac oiled leather Miramars sold out fast last year. And Birkenstock has since retired that style in those colors. So, when I found them on Poshmark, in her size, I snatched them. No second guessing on this purchase, they would be the perfect gift for my buddy.
I was so excited when they arrived. I rushed to the door to grab the box. As I leaned down to pick up the delivery, something was odd. The box reeked like toxic rubber. I wondered what the seller used to package the shipment. It smelled so bad that I did not even open the box inside, I took it straight to the backyard.
Upon opening the package, I spotted something that did not measure up to the listing. The blue Birkenstock box was smashed and the sticker on the box indicated that the Miramars were narrows. I did not order a narrow Miramar, I was fairly positive that I purchased regular width. I needed more data, so I continued my investigation.…
The Miramars were wrapped in stinky plastic. Birkenstock has never shipped me a pair of shoes in plastic wrap. Something was not adding up. Authentic Birkenstocks are always wrapped beautifully in custom Birkenstock tissue paper. Perhaps the seller lost the tissue paper and used plastic to prevent the buckles from scratching the leather during transit?
Then, as I unwrapped the sandals from the plastic, I quickly put two and two together. It was not the plastic wrap that created the odor, it was the “Miramars” that reeked!!! In fact, the plastic wrap smelled like roses and sunshine, compared to odor of the sandals. The seller shipped me FAKE BIRKENSTOCKS. The straps were rubber!!!
The straps were not only rubber, they were foul-smelling and thin. A non Birkenstock connoisseur could have been easily misled by these fakes because these were “good” fakes. Meaning they looked like a pair of Miramars….IF you have never seen an authentic pair of Birkenstocks in person!!
For a regular Birkenstock wearer, once you had these phony Miramars in your hand, you would know that there was nothing genuine about them!! Nada. Zip. Zilch. Zero. 100% fake!!! For those of us who wear Birkenstocks regularly, we know that Birkenstock straps are thick, durable, and made of the highest quality materials, not rubber. (Unless, of course, you order a pair Birkenstock EVA Essential sandals).
You might be asking yourself, Gina Mama, how did you know that they were knock offs? Well, the signs were as easy as pie to identify. Let’s take a gander at the fraudulent Birkenstocks and compare them to an authentic pair that I own.
1. They STINK!!!
2. The box has a fake sticker. The label says that the sandals are regular fit, but the picture shows a filled in foot, which, in the Birkenstock world, indicates a narrow footbed.
3. On the knock-off Miramars, the positioning of the foot symbol, the size, and the width are incorrect. Plus, the font, the color of the lettering, and the spacing are wrong as well. To top it off, the imprint of the wording is misaligned on the footbed. You can compare the differences here:
4. The EVA soles on the fake Birkenstocks look similar to my authentic pair, but the “Birk” imprint on the knock-off pair is larger in size compared to the authentic sole.
5. The forged big buckles look very much like the big buckles on the real pair of Miramars. But, the counterfeit buckle is too shiny and feels light and plasticy. The real giveaway here is the poor quality of the staples. The genuine pair of Birkenstocks uses high quality staples, the fake pair uses very flimsy and sharp metal, in the wrong color (the staple should match the buckle) to secure the buckle to the shoe.
6. I wish you could feel the fake Miramars. By touching these, one can easily determine that they are rubber vs touching the authentic pair that is made of thick, highly durable leather. Here are a few pictures, using a ruler, to illustrate the difference in the strap thickness. There is about 1mm difference in the thickness between the two pairs.
7. The counterfeit Miramars are very flimsy. The footbed of Birkenstocks are made with cork and should be sturdy. The footbed of an authentic Birkenstock should bend only a little bit. If you can bend the shoe from toe to heel, then it is a counterfeit. (This rule, of course, does not apply to Birkenstock EVA Essentital sandals).
8. The phony pair of Birkenstocks arrived with a plastic loop securing the Birkenstock card. Any Birkenstock wearer knows that Birkenstock never uses plastic to secure its tags to its shoes. Birkenstock is all about being environmentally friendly.
9. The weight of the authentic pair of Birkenstocks is less than the weight of the counterfeit pair. Just for fun, I used my scale to weigh each pair. The knock-off weighed an entire ounce more!
10. The logo on the sides of the knock-off pair is the wrong font, with incorrect spacing, and not evenly embedded on the shoe.
11. The most glaring piece of evidence that demonstrates that this is a counterfeit Miramar is the sizing translation. A Birkenstock size Euro 41 equates to a ladies 10 (L10) or a mens 8 (M8). The knock-off footbed simply reads L10.5. This screams “BOGUS BIRKS"!!!!
There are probably a few other tell tale signs that the Miramars from Poshmark are knock-offs. Can you find a few that I missed? I think that the eleven aforementioned points provide plenty of clues for you to better understand the difference between genuine and phony Birkenstocks.
Before I sent my complaint to Poshmark about receiving counterfeit Birkenstocks, I checked the seller’s listing. Do you think that the shoes pictured in the original listing were the same as the ones shipped to me? Negative. The seller must have used someone else’s photos for their listing and then mailed me the fakes.
I immediately requested a refund from Poshmark for the counterfeit Miramars. In fact, I requested a refund on the double!! But, in true Posh style, they took their sweet time reviewing my complaint. It took Posh nearly two weeks to review my complaint. In the end, they agreed that the Miramars were bogus and I was refunded my money.
Thank you Posh for the refund. However, I wish you had a speedier way to handle such situations, or even an 800 number for users to call to receive immediate assistance. The nice thing about eBay is that they have telephone assistance and their agents are actually really helpful (hint, hint).
I have not used Posh to buy or sell Birkenstocks since this experience. I did log on to Poshmark just the other day and noticed that there are tons of fake Birkenstocks on the app now. It is sad that the number of knock-offs has been growing steadily over the last few months. Buyers really need to be cautious and know what to look for when buying Birkenstocks secondhand.
If you need more tips and tricks for spotting bogus Birkenstocks, then I invite you to read my other blogs on this topic:
Shoes and purses are like wine and cheese. When paired correctly they are harmonious. When paired incorrectly there is total discord. Dissonance makes me anxious. Therefore, I must make certain that my purses compliment my Birkenstocks. By doing so, not only do I find harmony between my purse and shoe choice, I also pay my respects to the artistry of each pair of Birks. There is only one brand of handbags that can truly match the quality and flair of my beautiful Birkenstocks. That brand is Harveys California. Harveys makes the most incredible seatbelt handbags.
You read that correctly. Handbags made of SEATBELTS!!! Per their webpage, “It all started in a tiny garage with husband and wife, Dana & Melanie Harvey. While restoring their classic car, Dana came up with the idea to make Melanie a matching handbag with the leftover seatbelts. Everyone loved hers so much they decided to make more for you.”
Here is the Instagram TV video that I made to promote my blog. To illustrate the loveliness of these handbags.
The Harveys began creating, designing, and manufacturing their seatbelt handbags in Southern California in 1997. This was before the internet and social media. But, since I lived in Santa Barbara at the time, I had the good fortune to learn about these amazing bags early in their infancy, through word of mouth. However, since I was a college student, I did not have the funds to purchase a seatbelt bag for several years.
I drooled over these bags for over a decade before I finally “splurged”. Let me tell you, a Harveys Seatbelt Handbag is worth every single penny!! Like Birkenstocks, a Harveys bag is extremely durable, they are available in various styles and colors, and they can be repaired. Though I doubt that you will need to repair a Harveys bag, since they are nearly indestructible.
In fact, the Harveys slogan is that their bags are “guaranteed tough”. Additional features, as noted on the Harveys wiki page, is that these bags are “Durable, fade resistant automotive grade seatbelts and YKK zippers are sewn on industrial sewing machines (the kind used to sew horse saddles) with NASA grade nylon 69 thread.” It is hard to believe that such a durable bag is also vegan!! A Harveys bag will last a lifetime. You will probably only ever need to buy one.
But, what fun would that be?! Once you buy your first Harveys bag, you will soon want another. If you have been following me on Instagram or Facebook, you will have noticed that I occasionally post pictures of my Birkenstocks alongside one of my beautiful Harveys bags. Yes, I have more than one. How many do I have? Not enough!!
Sometimes I feel like I can never have enough Harveys bags. Like Birkenstocks, Harveys surprises customers with limited edition releases. Plus, they have a partnership with Disney and make the most adorable Disney themed seatbelt items. Harveys just released their first Disney Pixar Toy Story collection. This Harveys release was out of this world and in such high demand that customers trying to purchase these items literally crashed their webpage!
If you are not a Disney fan (who doesn’t love Disney though?), don’t fret, Harveys has got you covered with other, always changing, one of a kind designs. Birkenstocks don’t just make sandals and Harveys doesn’t just make handbags. Harveys also has other goodies. Like wallets, key chains, lanyards, dog collars and leashes, coin purses, as well as some other non-seatbelt accessories. Harveys is not just for women, they have a line of items for men too! Harveys has so many wonderful items and everything is made right here in California!!
I am a California girl, born and raised. And one of the things that I love the most about the Harveys brand is that their items are created, designed, and manufactured in California. Plus all of their materials are made in the USA. This is a double whammy of goodness, like champagne and strawberries. Every time I purchase a new Harveys bag, I feel like I am buying “locally” and am proud to support a small California business.
One of the most ingenious marketing tools that Harveys has implemented, is a stack of miniature business cards that come in every new bag. That’s right, Harveys tucks these darling little cards into every purse so that wearers can pass them out when others inquire about the bag. And, believe me, you will get compliments every single day that you wear a Harveys purse!! These unique bags are conversation starters. For example, I get asked questions about my seatbelt bags at the grocery store, at soccer games, walking my dog, on airplanes, even waiting in line in a public restroom!!
While I often get compliments on my Birkenstocks, I have never been complimented on a pair of sandals in a public restroom. Honestly, if I did, I’d be a little weirded out by it.
To some, pairing exquisite leather Birkenstocks with a seatbelt bag might seem a little weird. But, there is nothing better than a Harveys Seatbelt bag to match the uniqueness of my rare Birks. Just as Birkenstocks make different models of sandals to meet everyone’s needs, Harveys Seatbelt Handbags create various silhouettes to match everyone’s personality. In my humble opinion, the seatbelt bag actually helps elevate the elegance of my Birkenstocks. Plus, it is fun to mix and match various Harveys designs with styles of Birkenstocks.
You are most likely reading my blog because you are a Birkenstock wearer. Have I piqued your interest in the Harveys Seatbelt Handbags? Why not take a peek at their current line of bags and see if they have something that might match a pair of your Birkenstocks? Or better yet, if you are in Santa Ana, swing by their store. I stopped by last month, when I was in town, and had the good fortune of meeting Melanie Harvey!
Whether you stop by their store or visit their webpage, I bet you will be pleasantly surprised with their offerings. But, beware, like Birkenstocks, Harveys Seatbelt Bags can be mildly addictive.
So addictive in fact, that you might want to mesh your two worlds. What do I mean? Well…Harveys often asks their customers for suggestions for future ideas. I have officially submitted my request for Harveys to make a seatbelt bag with images of Birkenstock sandals. But, that has not happened yet. Therefore, I would like to take this opportunity to suggest that Birkenstock collaborate with Harveys and make a limited edition line of Birkenstocks with seatbelt uppers!! How about THAT idea???!!! Imagine the endless possibilities, designs, and colors.
What are your thoughts on Harveys Seatbelt Handbags? Do they play to your palate of style when it comes to matching your Birkenstocks? Do you find the pairing of a seatbelt bag and Birkenstocks to be as harmonious as I do? Send me a message and let me know. I would love to hear from you.
Want to learn how to acquire rare, unique Birkenstocks? Read this blog.
Not sure how to break-in your new Birkenstocks? Then check out this article.
Worried about counterfeit Birkenstocks? This post details ways to determine if your Birks are authentic.
It's almost Spring!! I cannot wait until the rain stops in the Bay Area and I can start wearing my Birkenstock sandals again.
Birkenstock has recently begun releasing some of their Spring/Summer 2019 collection. I quickly snatched up my very first pair for Spring. It might not be what you expect. Usually I go for the unique, shimmery uppers. Unfortunately, many of the new releases with the pretty designs have white soles. If you have been reading my blog, you know that I am not a fan of Birks with white soles.
So, what did I buy? Let's just say that I "invested" in a pair of blue leather Mayaris. Any Birkenstock collector knows, that it is rare for Birkenstock to release leather Mayaris in a deep, rich color. Usually, leather Mayaris are only available either in black or in brown. While those colors are solid neutrals for most people.....for Gina Mama.....it is just not enough.
The moment that Birkenstock Attitudes got these blue Mayaris in stock, I bought them. Watch this video to see the deep, rich navy of the leather:
Here's a tip to any newbie to Birkenstocks, if you see a sandal that you like, buy it!! With seasonal and limited edition Birkenstocks, once they are gone they are G-O-N-E. You never know when, if at all, Birkenstock might produce the style, color, or model again.
These blue Mayaris were my first purchase this season, what will your first Birkenstock purchase be from this collection? Send me a message, I would love to hear from you.
Thank you Birkenstock Attitudes for your exceptional customer service! I wonder what my next purchase from you might be.....????
Be sure to follow me on Instagram and Facebook, to keep up to date on all my posts.
If you have been following my blog for awhile, you know how much I love to recraft vintage Birkenstocks. I enjoy seeking out older styles/models of Birks, that have been retired by Birkenstock, and transforming them into something unique. For any true Birkenstock lover, finding such gems on Poshmark, eBay, Mercari, Craigslist, garage sales, a wonderful small business owner, or even at second hand store, is like hitting the jackpot.
I am not going to write another Do-It-Yourself blog. I have already done that. If you have no idea what I mean by recrafting, then please start by reading my post "Recrafting" or "Recrafts by Michelangelo". To learn how to paint your Birkenstocks, read my article titled "Bespoke Birkenstock". To find out how to customize your Birks with color cream, check out my blog "Birkenstock Diva".
Here is a sneak peak of what to expect in today's post:
I have been looking for a pair of Birkenstock Messina sandals for quite awhile. I found these on Poshmark and paid $21, including shipping. Here is what they looked like when they arrived:
I disassembled them at home, in my oven, so that I could customize them, before I sent them to Custom Made Birkenstocks for recrafting. Instructions on how to remove the Birkenstock uppers from the soles and footbeds are in the blog post, "Birkenstock Diva".
Once Birkenstocks are deconstructed, one can paint the leather evenly. Here is what the sandals looked like after they were taken apart.
I always use Angelus Direct leather paint when customizing my Birkenstocks. Angelus leather paint is top notch. The paint goes on smooth, dries evenly, and there is never evidence of brush strokes once the paint dries. Please note, that I find leather paint to be more time efficient, and a heck of a lot less messy, compared to dyeing leather. For this project, I chose the color Pearlescent Rose Gold as my base coat, and then added a single layer of matching glitterlites to provide a touch of shimmer. This picture below shows the final product.
This short video shows you how the glitterlites sparkle in the sun. I am thoroughly satisfied with my updated version of the Birkenstock Messina.
My second, spectacular customization, revolves around the Birkenstock Jakarta. This beautiful sandal was released several years ago. I found this pair on Poshmark and paid about $40. Given the laser cut outs and the rarity of this Birkenstock, $40 is a steal! Granted, they looked very rough when they arrived. The metallic gold on the leather was peeling away, no surprise when it comes to Birkenstock metallic leathers. You just look at a shiny metallic Birkenstock and it scratches. Here is what the Birkenstocks looked like when I bought them.
As you can see, they looked extremely worn out. I was not sure that I wanted to keep them. I took a poll on Instagram and 80% of the pollers suggested that I resell them. One reader voted that I keep them and repaint them pewter. I was not sure that I wanted to go through the trouble of painting these, but her suggestion remained in the back of my mind. I listed them on eBay. For months, I had them for sale on eBay. Even at my rock bottom price, they would not sell!! I decided to show everyone what they were missing, and I painted them........pewter. Heck, I had already paid for them, mind as well customize them to Gina Mama standards.
As with the Messinas, I deconstructed the Jakartas in the oven, then I used nail polish remover and a cotton ball, to wipe off the remaining gold paint. The metallic paint came off easily. Once dry, I painted them flat black, added a top coat of pewter, and then brushed three layers pewter glitterlites. These babies were going to have so much sparkle, that you would see me coming from a mile away!!
Here is what the Jakartas looked like, once I pulled the straps off the footbeds, and removed the gold metallic finish:
This video showcases the sparkly goodness of the glitterlites, before the recraft.
Once again, I made all these changes using Angelus Direct paint. After my customization process at home, I shipped them off to Custom Made Birkenstocks, for the final recraft. With this pair of Jakartas, I had something special in mind. I wanted these rare sandals to have an exquisite leather lined footbed. Many of my favorite Birkenstocks have such footbeds. Wrapping the Jakarta's footbed in leather, turned these otherwise pretty Birks, into something très chic. Just look at the final product:
Meet Persian Velvet:
The final pair of Birkenstocks that I transformed, was a pair of Orange Persian Velvet Arizonas. I wanted these Orange Velvet Birkenstocks when they were first released. However, I chose to forgo them at the time because they were only released in narrow width.
A few months ago, Sandy, from Sandy's Birkenstock Boutique, mentioned that she had a pair of Brown Persian Velvet Arizonas in my size. The pair that Sandy had was new old stock!! She asked if I wanted to buy them before she listed them on eBay. I did not have to give this a second thought, I quickly answered "YES"! Since my foot shape changed, ever so slightly, after completing a round of 80 Day Obsession, I was confident that I would now be able to fit into a narrow width Arizona.
I loved the Brown Persian Velvet Arizonas so much, I knew that I had to find a pair of orange ones too. It took me several weeks, scouring the internet, before I finally found a pair. Here is what they looked like when I bought them on Poshmark:
They were the perfect orange. As a born and raised Bay Area girl, my heart belongs to the San Francisco Giants. These Arizonas were Giants orange!!
I shipped them off to Michelangelo, at Custom Made Birkenstocks, with no modifications. The only customization needed on my end, was a vision. My vision was "orange and black" (the San Francisco Giants colors). These velvet orange Arizonas needed to have an exquisite black leather footbed. I told Michelangelo what I wanted, and as the true artist that he is, he made it happen. The final customization with the leather lined footbed will make every Birkenstock lover drool. Check these out:
Words do not describe how much I treasure these orange Arizonas. They are be beautiful, dressy, and unique. I guarantee you that I will wear these every chance that I get. Especially come April, when baseball season begins!
It is truly amazing how a little imagination, quality leather paint, and an incredible cobbler, can truly transform any shabby looking pair of Birkenstocks. I have provided you the tips and techniques for making changes to your Birkenstocks. Now go out there and find a vintage pair that you *MUST* have and customize the heck out of them! I challenge you to take my DIY blogs and actually DO-IT-YOURSELF!! Post pictures of your customized Birkenstocks on my Facebook page. I can't wait to see how you have customized your Birkenstocks!!!