Birkenstock is one of those brands that is so famous for what it sells, the word “sandals” is practically interchangeable with the brand name. The distinct style, the famous name, the reputation…Birkenstock is pretty much at the top of the casual sandal game. But there are brands similar to Birkenstock that capture some of the same stuff you like about this shoe brand. Get to know these brands and you’ll know a lot more about where to get the footwear you want.
History of Birkenstock
There are some pretty well-established names in fashion out there. Levi Strauss patented blue jeans in the 1870s and the Levi’s name is still hugely famous to this day. Brooks Brothers was founded way back in 1818 and continues to be a huge name in fashion. But Birkenstock is even older.
The Birkenstock brand dates to 1774, when a German cobbler named Johann Adam Birkenstock started making a flat-bottomed shoe. His subsequent descendants were also cobblers who continued to innovate different shoe designs, styling new shoes around Johann’s flat sole concept.
One early standout feature of Birkenstock-made shoes was a blue footbed. It was such a striking feature that it was once a trademark of the brand. The shoe was popular throughout Europe.
Becoming an Icon
It’s the contoured, supportive footbed that sets Birkenstocks apart. The soft footbeds were comfortable on feet and cushioning for the steps. Birkenstock shoes are made to cradle and cushion feet in a design that’s promoted as being healthier and better for feet overall. Which, you have to admit, is a pretty strong selling point. The comfortable feel of Birkenstocks, not the designs, is what propelled this shoe to the top of the fashion world.
Coming to America
Birkenstocks wouldn’t make it to the U.S. until the 1960s. That’s when Margot Fraser went on a vacation to Germany. For the return trip to San Francisco, she needed comfortable shoes. She bought herself a pair of Birkenstocks and loved the shoes so much, she bought the rights to sell the shoes in the U.S.
Karl Birkenstock sold her the rights…and Fraser couldn’t find any buyers for the sandals. Shoe stores weren’t interested in the German sandals, so Fraser switched tactics. She went to health food stores instead.
The Birkenstocks were a hit among health food customers and soon, the sandals caught on with the hippie culture in the 1960s U.S. The German brand soon became a household name.
That original sandal design that so impressed Fraser still exists in the Birkenstock catalog. It’s the “Madrid.” Because when a design really works, keep it!
Birkenstock remains one of the biggest names in footwear, appearing often on the beautiful feet of glamorous celebrities. Not only does the brand make a truly enormous selection of classic Birkenstock sandals in shades of brown with strappy uppers and soft foam footbeds, it makes almost every type of footwear you can think of.
The Birkenstock brand has expanded to include many colorful sandal designs and flip-flop styles. Shop Birkenstock for slides, military-inspired designs and much more. You can also find mules, clogs, lace-up designs, sneakers and boots, not to mention a huge selection of designs made specifically for professionals. Birkenstock carries shoes designed for healthcare, utility and hospitality workers.
This brand has a lot of reasons to stand out and it still gets a lot of customers. You can see why. But Birkenstock isn’t alone in the shoe game. There is room for brands similar to Birkenstock, including some that have things in common with this very well-established brand.
Finding Brands Similar to Birkenstock
Birkenstock may be a famous name but there are many other brands that have dedicated a lot of time and attention to dressing your feet. Explore brands that are like Birkenstock in some ways and you may learn that you have a lot of brands to go to the next time you need to do some shoe shopping.
A. Emery (More Expensive)
A. Emery specializes in sandals and boots for women, so you’ve pretty much got footwear options for the whole year through. The styles here stand out for their designer look and cushioning, thick sole design. Like Birkenstock, these sandals are made in simple styles that are designed to support your feet. A. Emery has some style elements in common with Birkenstock. Both brands focus more on a neutral color palette featuring blacks and browns.
There’s a big range of strappy sandal styles here. Like Birkenstock, these designs are made with flat soles without high heels. The designs are meant to be comfortable and supportive but also highly fashionable. A. Emery is definitely a style brand that makes footwear for fashion, even though the footwear is also made to cushion and support your steps.
You could say you get the best of both worlds with supportive, fashionable sandals from A. Emery. The prices here are slightly more expensive, on average, than what you will get when you’re shopping with Birkenstock.
Alexandre Birman (More Expensive)
Alexandre Birman, like Birkenstock, specializes in shoes and carries an enormous selection of sandal styles. Alexandre Birman makes sneakers, boots, loafers and even bridal and wedding shoe styles. But unlike Birkenstock, these are fashion shoes. These shoes are all about style, not about taking care of your feet.
You will find many high-heeled designs here, many different styles in lots of different colors, shoes so high your mouth will drop open. Alexandre Birman makes shoes exclusively for women, whereas Birkenstock makes shoes for men, women and kids.
Because this is a designer shoe brand, the pricing here is more expensive than most anything you will find at Birkenstock. However, you will get the high fashion design and look associated with an expensive brand like this one.
Brother Vellies (More Expensive)
The fashion shoes that come from your imagination live at Brother Vellies. This is the brand you go to if you need something in fluorescent color, boots that go all the way up to the top of your legs, high heels with uppers that look like snakeskin or crocodile, something fun and highly fashionable.
Shop here for pumps, sandals, mules, flats, loafers, sneakers and many other styles for women and men. Brother Vellie also carries handbags so you can match your bag to your shoes. You can also shop here for wedding shoes. Brother Vellies carries a huge selection. You can also find highly stylized cowboy boots styles here, which is somewhat unique.
The shoes here are more expensive than what you will find at Birkenstock because these shoes are made for style. Colors that pop, patterns that look amazing, gorgeous designs that will stand out…people often end up paying a little more for high-fashion style like this.
Unlike Birkenstock, Brother Vellies do not provide good support and cushioning in their footwear designs. There are very tall heels and very thin footbeds here in some styles and these shoes are worn for looks, not comfort.
Dr Martens (Similar Pricing)
Dr. Martens, also known as “Docs,” is a famous footwear name, something the brand has in common with Birkenstock. However, Doc Martens specializes in making boots. While Birkenstock came to fame for sandals, Dr. Martens is definitely best known for boots. Over the years, both brands branched out into other footwear styles. Today, Dr. Martens makes a great selection of sandals that have a lot of things in common with classic Birkenstock styles.
There’s a big selection of sandals in the Doc Martens catalog, including many with thick, flat soles, comfortable footbeds and strappy styles that look similar to classic Birkenstocks. Dr. Martens is famous for its style and its comfortable fit but the brand is also associated with a standout feature: the visible sole stitching. This is a feature of Dr. Martens that stands out, even in the strappy sandal designs.
Shop Dr. Martens to explore a huge variety of footwear. The pricing here is similar to what you’ll pay at Birkenstock, and there are plenty of different footwear styles for you to choose from.
Emme Parsons (More Expensive)
Like Birkenstock, Emme Parsons shoes focus on design and style, not on color, to make an impression. There are many classic sandal styles here, along with loafers, flats, boots, sandals and other types of shoes. These are designer shoes with a designer look, and they are definitely made for fashion.
Emme Parsons makes bridal shoes as well, along with accessories like belts and anklets. If people are admiring your shoes, they might as well have some jewelry to appreciate, too.
This brand makes fashion styles for women and it makes them to be fashionable but not necessarily comfortable. There are many styles here with thin insoles and soles and strappy, barely-there designs.
Because these are high-fashion shoes, the price is more expensive than designs you can buy at Birkenstock. While both brands focus on footwear, they have taken vastly different design paths.
Freedom Moses (Less Expensive)
The way Birkenstocks once specialized in only making sandals, Freedom Moses specializes in making slides. This is what the company focuses on and the selection of slides here is absolutely mind-boggling. You can get them in a variety of stunning colors, patterns and styles, including cool animal print designs.
Freedom Moses has another claim to fame: all the slides are 100 percent vegan and totally cruelty-free. The slides are also lightly scented with the aroma of milk and honey. They are waterproof and washable and they’re made with an air-injected design with a soft footbed that keeps feet comfortable and cushioned. Sound familiar? Like Birkenstock, Freedom Moses has put a lot of time and attention into designing shoes that comfort and support feet well.
This young company could be a world-famous brand name a century from now, so it’s best to buy before the brand takes off in a big way. Free Moses slides are less expensive than sandals at Birkenstock, so you can get an extra pair or two when you go shopping here.
Gianborghini (More Expensive)
Gianborghini looks and sounds like one of those expensive Italian brands making that high-end stuff. Which is exactly what this brand is. You can shop here for sleek sunglasses, stunning purses, high-fashion high heels and boots. You can find all sorts of sleek styles here but Gianborghini also makes a selection of “puffy” sandal styles that really stand out. These styles have a little more in common with Birkenstocks than both brands being made to go on the feet.
Soft, puffy-style sandals from Gianborghini have a very distinct look to them. The thick soles and cushioning insoles are perfect in elegant, modern designs that are very sleek and simple. These sandal styles have a lot in common with Birkenstocks, though the Gianborghini brand definitely has a very refined, high-fashion look to it that Birkenstocks just don’t have.
The prices here are more expensive, on average, than what you’ll pay for similar items at Birkenstock. That’s because this is a high fashion brand made in high fashion, very modern and trendy designs.
Grenson (More Expensive)
Grenson makes a huge selection of shoe styles for men and women, including hiking boots, loafers and shoes for the office, sneakers, slippers and of course, sandals. The sandal styles at Grenson have a simple, functional design that makes them look a bit like the styles you will find at Birkenstock.
The sandals here are made in flat styles with neutral colors in shades of brown and black, in supportive styles that are somewhat like the styles you will find at Birkenstock. Browse the sandals here when you’re in the mood for high fashion’s take on classic Birkenstock sandals.
Because this is a high fashion brand, Grenson is more expensive than styles you will find at Birkenstock.
Keds (Less Expensive)
Keds makes shoes in women’s, unisex and kids’ styles. This is a well-known name in casual, comfortable footwear that has been popular in the footwear game for decades. Keds is a famous brand that’s heavily associated with simple, sleek, canvas shoe designs.
Keds is perhaps best known for its low-cut sneakers, though this brand makes lace-free slip-on styles, boots, platform designs and other styles as well. Keds also doesn’t exclusively design shoes in canvas. This brand carries an entire line of leather footwear styles.
This brand differs from Birkenstock and many other shoe designers because Keds doesn’t make sandals. However, the low-cut slip-on styles made by this brand have some characteristics in common with Birkenstock designs. Like Birkenstocks, or Birks, Keds have thicker, supportive soles and insoles that are made to comfort and cushion your steps.
Keds shoes are less expensive than similar items you can buy at Birkenstock. Even the leather styles at Keds are generally less expensive, so you can buy more and spend less when you shop here.
Rainbow Sandals (Less Expensive)
Like Birkenstock, Rainbow Sandals are made with technology designed to cushion and support your feet. They are designed to be soft and comfortable but also fashionable. Rainbow Sandals specializes in flip-flop and thong designs using premium leather materials, non-slip soles and layers of support that soften shock from your steps.
Rainbow Sandals also have a more neutral palette for their sandals and simple, uncomplicated designs with flat soles, something else the brand has in common with Birkenstocks. Rainbow Sandals uses leather, rubber and hemp in their designs to create shoes that are comfortable, durable and high-performing.
This brand has a lot in common with Birkenstock, including similar style considerations, though the two brands each have their own distinct look. If you want to add more flip-flop styles to your wardrobe and you want those sandals to be supportive and strong and simple, you want to start shopping the Rainbow Sandals brand immediately.
The pricing here is less expensive than what you will pay at Birkenstock for similar items. Rainbow Sandals makes footwear for men, women and kids, along with apparel and accessories. You can also shop here for wallets, T-shirts, sweatshirts and socks, among other stuff. Rainbow Sandals also make a product line of sandals that were all made in the U.S.A.
Sketchers (Less Expensive)
Sketchers, like Birkenstock, is a famous name in shoes. However, Skechers is best known for its more athletic, lace-up shoe styles. The standout feature of Sketchers is the thick soles, a system of support for feet that definitely identifies this brand. The Sketchers sole is part of the design of the shoes from this brand, even in the sandals styles.
Like Birkenstock, Sketchers makes a huge variety of different types of shoes, including designs that are made for professional wear and designs that are made for athletic wear. Sketchers also makes sandal designs that have a lot in common with classic Birkenstock looks.
Sketchers sandals, like Birkenstocks, are built on a strong, supportive base that cushions and supports feet. The sandals are flat, with no heels. Sketchers makes a wide variety of sandals, from thong styles to slides to strappy designs.
The pricing here is somewhat less expensive than the styles you will find at Birkenstock.
Teva (Less Expensive)
Of all the different brands similar to Birkenstock on this list, Teva is the most similar. Teva and Birkstenstock are definitely cut in the same mold as far as sandal styles go. Like Birkenstock, Teva has put its focus into cushioning, supportive sandal styles that have a good strapping system and mostly neutral designs without a lot of colors.
Teva, like Birkenstock, makes sandals for performance and not for fashion. The sandals from this brand are designed with strapping systems that are secure on your feet that are built on supportive lowers that cradle and cushion your steps. The designs aren’t made for high style and high fashion, they are made for performance and to keep your feet comfortable. In this, Teva is very similar to Birkenstock.
If you like the look, the comfort and the design of Birkenstock sandals, take a look at what Teva has to offer. You’re going to like what you find at this brand. Along with sandals, Teva makes shoes in all styles for men, women and kids. Shop here for boots, shoots, slip-ons, platforms and athletic shoes of all types. You can also look for vegan designs here.
Teva’s pricing is less expensive, in general, than similar styles you can find at Birkenstock.
Wearing Brands Similar to Birkenstock
Birkenstock sandals definitely stand out and they’re so well-known, you can pretty much spot them when you see other people wearing them. But Birkenstock has branched out over the years to include lots of footwear styles and in the meantime, other brands have come up with similar designs that were clearly inspired by those original Birkenstock sandals.
Some brands specialize in footwear like Birkenstock, but they’ve gone in a whole different direction. Explore the famous footwear brands, and the ones that will be famous one day, that have things in common with Birkenstock to broaden your fashion and integrate more stuff into your style. Experiment and explore with your fashion…because that’s what it’s for!
Birkenstocks have been around for ever, like really, but there’s still a lot of stuff that many people don’t know about this brand. Find out how to care for Birkenstocks and get to know more about these shoes and how good they are for your feet. We searched for the most-asked questions about Birkenstocks and we got the answers, so you know what you need to know to buy, maintain and wear these shoes like a pro.
Can you wash Birkenstocks?
Birkenstock shoe styles are made to be highly durable as a general rule. And if you’re going to have your sandals for a long time and wear them often, you’re going to want to wash them at some point. Can you?
Birkenstocks can’t be washed in the sense that you cannot simply toss them in the washing machine. However, you can clean your Birkenstocks. The way you clean your Birks depends on what they are made from.
Many Birkenstock styles are made with suede leather uppers, a material that should not get wet. This can make it confusing if you want to clean your Birkenstocks. For all suede, start by brushing the material with a soft-bristled brush to remove any dirt and debris. If the leather still looks dirty, gently wipe the material using a damp cloth. Wipe the leather using small, circular motions.
Sandals made with other materials, including polished leather, can be rinsed in warm water. However, you don’t want to soak your footwear. Put the shoe under the water just long enough to get it damp and then use a wet cloth to gently rub the sandals to remove dirt, rather than thoroughly wetting your shoes.
You can also use specialized leather cleaners on your Birkenstocks, if you prefer. There are many different types of leather cleaners available to choose from. You can find them at any shoe store or online.
These cleaning methods work for the uppers and the bottom outside soles of Birkenstocks. But what about those famous footbeds, the part of your shoe where your foot rests? How do you clean this part of your Birks? The cork footbed is a main feature and a big selling point for Birkenstock styles.
To clean the inside of your Birkenstock shoes, make a paste of baking soda and water. The consistency should be something like toothpaste but a little bit more watery. Apply this paste to the footbeds and use a toothbrush to gently brush the paste onto the footbed. Use small, circular motions and clean the entire surface of the footbed this way. Wipe the baking soda away using a clean, damp cloth.
If you have a stain somewhere on your Birks that won’t go away with regular cleaning methods, try a little bit of white vinegar. Dab it onto a clean cloth and gently dab this right onto the stain to dampen it. Let it sit a moment and then wipe the area gently with a damp cloth to remove the stain.
Can Birkenstocks get wet?
Birkenstock does make footwear that can be worn in the rain and water but most of the classic Birkenstock styles should not get wet. Some dampness and moisture will not harm your Birks but soaking them in water is not advised. The brand says that completely immersing certain styles in water could compromise the sealants and the materials used in the design.
If your Birkenstocks get wet, allow them to dry completely before you put them on again and do not dry the Birks in the sunlight.
Are Birkenstocks good for your feet?
Birkenstocks will tell you, as a brand, that the footwear is designed to support feet and promote healthy feet. But is that true or just some really good marketing?
Good marketing or not, it’s true. Podiatrists, who are truly foot experts, say that Birkenstocks are good for your feet. They are supportive and they absorb shock from stepping and standing. Unless you have a foot problem that requires specialized footwear, Birkenstocks can be beneficial, comfortable and supportive for all feet.
Are Birkenstocks good for hiking?
Birkenstocks are very good for wearing. They are comfortable, supportive, cushioning, all the things you want them to be. But this does not mean that Birkenstocks should be worn for athletic activities or for hiking. Birkenstock sandals are great for everyday wear but they do not provide ankle support or very much upper foot protection. These are not hiking sandals.
However, other brands, like Teva, do make sandals that are specifically designed for hiking. When Birkenstocks can’t do quite what you need them to do, look to brands similar to Birkenstocks to find what you need.
Where are Birkenstocks made?
The Birkenstocks brand still had its headquarters in Germany, where the company was founded. Production and logistics facilities are based here as well. All Birkenstock shoes are made in Germany and the footbeds are made in workshops in Europe, including one workshop that is in Portugal.
Happy Feet – Shoe NewsThe History of Birkenstock