Heroes or Villains? The Birkenstock Trend

Birkenstocks Black Birkenstock style sandals

You might have noticed I haven’t featured any Birkenstock-style sandals here this year, even although they’re one of this season’s biggest shoe trends. Every fashion blogger worth her Rockstuds seems to own a pair, and I’ve witnessed many of my online and offline friends declare they’d never succumb to the “ugly shoe trend”, only to show up a few weeks later rocking a pair of Birkenstocks, and sheepishly declaring that they’re “So! Comfy!” Which is exactly how people used to justify wearing Crocs, if I recall correctly.

So, why have I been determinedly ignoring all of those comfortable, Birkenstock-style sandals in favour of the usual stilettos? I’m just going to be honest: I can’t stand them.

It’s not that I don’t think there’s EVER a reason to wear comfortable (albeit ugly) shoes, I hasten to add. There are plenty of times when it’s necessary to forget about style and focus purely on comfort: not even I would advocate wearing heels to go hiking, for instance, or cramming your feet into uncomfortable shoes for ANY reason, really. But the fact is, today’s sensible sandals aren’t being worn because there are no other options, or because they’re the only footwear their owner can stand up in: they’re being worn as a fashion statement, and that’s what I just can’t buy into. Not even repeated exposure to this style of shoe has convinced me that they’re something I’d ever actively CHOOSE to wear, and I can’t see that changing any time soon: although, having said that, I HAVE just ordered a pair of sneakers, so never say never! I’m also not swayed by the “so comfortable!” argument: I reckon there are plenty of comfortable shoes out there that also look stylish, so Birkenstocks aren’t the only option!

Of course, style is subjective, and I know lots of people out there really love this trend: not just because it finally allows them to wear truly comfortable shoes and still be in fashion (something that doesn’t happen often), but because it subverts the more typical style “rules”, by making something that used to be considered “ugly” suddenly “on trend”.

Where do you stand on Birkenstock-style “sensible” sandals – as a fashion trend, as opposed to as a comfort/purely practical thing? Do you love the look, or are you wishing the trend could just END, already?

Are these shoes heroes or villains?

[P.S. The shoes featured aren’t Birkenstock branded, but are one of the many similar styles currently available on the high street. These ones are from Zara, and you can buy them here.


  • Mum’s been wearing them for donkey’s years after being advised by the Dr when she broke her back. I was surprised they became trendy tbh as ppl have always worn them, just not as a style statement! I’ve borrowed a black pair from mum because 35 weeks pregnant = slip ons / on trend with no spend! I’ll be giving them back as soon as baby arrives though in favour of my usual dainty flat sandals!

  • I think these kind of shoes are fairly ugly, and trendy or not I’ll never wear them! Luckily there are lots of comfy and cute options, even amongst heels; for example I found a Spanish brand, ‘Wonders’, that makes very comfortable heeled shoes; they’re really cute, a la Chie Mihara style, and also they have proper soles that don’t kill your feet!

  • I love mine, but they’re lovely and silver! I wouldn’t say I wear them as a fashion thing though, much more like something to slip on and wear to the beach!

  • Definitely ugly, but better than crocs. Because at least they are made out of shoe materials and not foam. Also it’s really hard to beat crocs for ugliness.

  • HATE them. It’s one of those trends I think people will look back on in years to come and be like, what was I thinking?!

  • I have 3 pairs (black Gizehs, white Gizehs and Silver Madrids) – they are years old and are holiday attire for walking in hot humid countries when my flipflops give me blisters. I do sometimes bung my madrids on under jeans when walking the dog or popping to Tesco Express. Guess what I’m saying is that they do have their place, but it’s a very restricted one, and buying the right style is key.
    Crocs also have a place – one place only – they work in an operating theatre because they can easily be sterilised and are comfortable for surgeons that have to stand for long periods of time.

    • I totally agree. I wear these shoes when my feet are in need of them, like if I have a bad blister and all other shoes hurt or I’m just walking my pet pig or something. These shoes are orthopedic so if they’re worn to serve a purpose (not just for fashion) I think that’s completely okay. I wear similar shoes as home slippers. And Crocs do have their place, they look horrible and I wouldn’t be caught dead in the outside, but at the hospital we do wear them. But then I wouldn’t wear my scrubs or lab coat “in the real world” just as I wouldn’t wear my Crocs. Also I understand people (like my mom or garndma) wearing them for gardening. But otherwise I hate Crocs on people. Luckily their popularity has gone down a bit.

  • Birkenstocks aren’t even that comfortable! I had a pair that I used to wear after pedicures (the ONLY reason I ever wore them) and it took years before I found them comfortable. Agree with the general consensus that they are better than Crocs, but only just 🙂

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