The historic brand of sandals Birkenstock continues its support to the new generation of creatives through a new collaboration with the prestigious Saint Martins of London. It all started in 2018, when Birkenstock asked the students of the course History and Theory of Fashion of Central Saint Martins to begin a search within its prolific archive, in order to enrich it. The students were able to access the brand’s archives in the United States, Italy and Japan, as well as at the Birkenstock headquarters in Germany. A real journey through a 250-year history. The second step of this collaboration, also the result of this profound research in such an iconic archive, involved the students of the Master of Arts in Fashion, invited to interpret the emblematic models of Birkenstock, through a personal and contemporary interpretation, thus outlining the future of the iconic German brand.
A year later a jury of 12 prestigious industry leaders, chaired by Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert and composed of the director of the Master of Arts in Fashion Fabio Piras and fashion critic Sarah Mower MBE, was invited by Birkenstock to evaluate the portfolio of all students and select a shortlist of 10 finalists who have been awarded a scholarship.
Oliver Reichert, CEO, Birkenstock explained “Investing in future talents and engaging in dialogue with them means working with free spirits. A priority for forward-thinking brands, especially for a democratic and inclusive brand like Birkenstock. The students showed a deep understanding of the models and presented a convincing end result “.
Fabio Piras, Course Director, Master of Arts in Fashion at Central Saint Martins added: “Working with Birkenstock has been an incredibly rewarding experience for all of our students involved in this collaborative project. Four have been selected as winners and will now see their design ideas realized and advertised across the brand’s international retail network. I am extremely grateful to Birkenstock for her extraordinary commitment to supporting fashion education through this rewarding opportunity “.
Alistair O’Neill, Professor at the Bachelor of Fashion History and Theory, added: “This is a unique student project, which has combined historical research and innovative design. It has been a great pleasure to collaborate with Birkenstock, whose commitment to responsibility, quality and integrity we value “.
Over the course of a year of product development, four of the models designed by the students were chosen for mass production and are featured in a campaign signed by Walter Pfeiffer in Paris. The collection is now available at selected stores around the world and on 1774.com.
Here are the four main students:
– Alex Wolfe, from London, explores and questions the concepts of ‘Britishness’ and ‘masculine’ identity, with an often playful and subversive approach; his version of the Moto Sandal is a turbulent reinterpretation of Birkenstock’s orthopedic history, a collision between the concept of a shin guard and a motocross protective garment.
– Alecsander Rothschild, published in Vogue Talents in 2017, is Danish and before the Master of Arts in Fashion at Central Saint Martins, he worked for Mugler in Paris. In his sandals he wanted to pay homage to his family of artists by turning to the world of sculptures, specifically Brancusi.
– Saskia Lenaerts is a designer without borders and with her work she wants to dismantle prejudices. His sandal celebrates the history and comfort of the iconic Birkenstock footbed in latex and cork: the natural shape and function of the footbed are recreated in the form of a padded upper. The result reveals the natural beauty of the space created by a sole on the sand.
– Dingyun Zhang, Chinese designer of men’s fashion and footwear, received a Bachelor of Arts in Fashion from Central Saint Martins in 2018 and a Master of Arts in Fashion in 2020. For his version of Birkenstock sandals he wanted to create a bond of sustainable ideas with comfort in the long run, materials and functionality.