COMBINING BLAHNIK AND BEACHDAY
BY: CLAIRE DELLORTO & ANABELLE SCHLAKMAN
The fusion of the outdoorsy Birkenstock sandal and luxury Manolo Blahnik heel seems to be a usual pairing, but the 2022 collaboration between the two well-known brands rocked the world. Proving opposites attract, the brand's new addition was an elegant sandal that sold out in record time. It always seemed to be that the Birkenstock girl and the Blahnik girl were two very different people, with the Carrie Bradshaws and Kiara Carreras of the world never daring to be seen swapping closets. In recent years, however, these two "opposite aesthetics" have been converging into one girl's style – a girl that can do both. Many not-so-outdoorsy celebrities, including Kendall Jenner, Katie Holmes, Gwenyth Paltrow, Kaia Gerber, and Cindy Crawford, have recently been spotted rocking Birkenstocks publicly, giving this converging aesthetic a public appearance. Manolo Blahnik himself spoke on how he has been wearing and loving Birkenstocks for years, adding to his excitement for this collaboration between the two brands.
The relationship between Blahnik and Birkenstock developed when Birkenstock released its Personality Campaign in the spring of 2020. The campaign shared images of people wearing their own Birkenstocks in their natural environments. To many fashion lovers' surprise, Manolo and Kristina Blahnik both modeled for this campaign, sparking a business relationship between the two designers that put the wheels in motion for this collaboration. The Birkenstock and Blahnik collaboration combines glamor and comfort for a balance of elegance and ease. The two companies spoke on how they share brand and core design values, making for a wonderful collaboration. Kristin Blahnik described this shared vision as "Timeless, high-quality designs, crafted to be treasured and enjoyed." Additionally, the Manolo Blahnik website describes this collaboration to be "based on the house's shared mastery of craftsmanship and creativity, the collection combines the signature glamor of Manolo Blahnik with the renowned comfort of BIRKENSTOCK."
The first release of this collaboration was in March 2022 and featured reimagined Arizona and Boston styles of Birkenstocks: the highly popular two-strap buckled sandal and open-heeled clog.
The Arizona style featured jeweled square buckles and fuchsia or blue velvet over the entire sandal with microfibre French piping.
The Boston style was completed with tonal French leather piping as well as black calf leather options.
The first release offered prices in the range of $680 to $810 per pair. After the extreme popularity of this collection, a second edition was released in April 2022. This second release included a versatile see-through Arizona-style sandal selling for $470, inspired by Manolo Blahnik's fascination with incorporating light and structure into his shoes, which he had been exploring since the 1970s. Additionally, the second release included Boston and Arizona-style sandals with black and white polka dots in leather and calf hair that sold for $540 for the Boston mule and $510 for a matching Rodra slide. This design drew inspiration from Manolo Blahnik's Spanish background, using the traditional Spanish print that is featured on the bata de cola, which is the long trailing dress used in traditional flamenco dancing.
This collaboration was especially important to Blahnik as he used it to incorporate an homage to his home country, Spain. The shoes incorporated Blahnik's long-time vision of a light, transparent shoe design with its thick, transparent sandal straps. Inspired by both quality and function, Blahnik used this collaboration with Birkenstock to expand his creative expression and values into his design and create something both groundbreakingly different as well as important to him and his brand. Simultaneously, Birkenstock was able to expand its brand into luxury for the first time. Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert said Blahnik's "unrivaled craftsmanship has long set the bar for shoemaking." Normally, Birkenstocks retail for around $100-$150, depending on the style, making this collaboration a large jump in price for Birkenstock. In comparison, Blahnik shoes usually sell for around $1000 a pair, making these collaborated-on shoes less expensive than the usual pair. Manolo Blahnik shoes were not always as expensive as they currently are, so with their increased prices, this collaboration with Birkenstock facilitates a fusion between the two "aesthetics," offering a simultaneously lower-priced Blahnik and higher-priced Birkenstock.
This fresh and unique collaboration broke boundaries by combining two shoe brands that seemingly could not be more different: mixing elegance with casual, earthy comfort. Through this collaboration, the two brands showed the world that the Birkenstock girl and Blahnik girl do not need to be opposites planted on separate ends of the fashion scale; they can be one girl who appreciates both glamor and ease and a variety of fashion styles. As time progresses, fashion styles and even brands become less and less separated by "class" or "type" or person as people expand their styles into a variety of aesthetics. To see more, check out the rest of Birkenstock's 1774 platform, which has included tie-ups with Dior, Valentino, Rick Owens, Proenza Schouler, and more.