Birkenstock - Tradition Since 1774

Over many generations, the Birkenstock company has gathered extensive knowledge in the area of foot health. This knowledge and experience is the foundation of their proven, high quality Birkenstock sandals and shoes. 243 years ago, Johann Adam Birkenstock was born in Langenberg, Germany. He was the great-great-great grandfather of Karl Birkenstock, who is currently a part of this German company’s successful history

History photo 1



Johann Adam Birkenstock registered in the church archives as “vassal and shoemaker".



Konrad Birkenstock, master shoemaker has two shoe specialty stores in Frankfurt and is starting to make footbed insoles.

For about 15 years Konrad Birkenstock is holding seminars and lectures to other masters and guilds to explain his ideas for a custom shoe and to get license contracts for the production of his footbed shoes. He starts travelling extensively throughout Germany and Austria.



Carl Birkenstock, the eldest son, joins the family business.


During the war, Konrad Birkenstock sr. is hired by the Frankfurt-Friedrichsheim hospital's orthopeadic workshop to manufacture footwear for wounded soldiers. Prof. Dr. med. Lundhoff, hospital director, approves and sponsors these shoes made by Konrand Birkenstock.

Konrad Birkenstock jr. joins the company. A large factory is purchased in Friedberg, Hessen. The large customer base makes it necessary to work in day and night shifts. The product: The Blue Footbed. It is successfully sold in Austria, Italy, France, Denmark, Czechoslovakia, Luxembourg, Belgium, Norway, The Netherlands, Sweden and Switzerland.


Start of the famous Birkenstock classes. More than 5,000 specialists are trained during the weeklong seminars in the following years. Leading doctors support the Birkenstock system.


The book “Podiatric System Birkenstock” is published. 112 pages, 55 pictures, 14,000 copies. The most widely read and published textbook on podiatry of its time.


Karl Birkenstock joins the family business.


The self-colouring footprint paper has been successfully developed. The process is patented in Germany, the U.S. and most European countries. The new self-colouring footprint paper makes it viable to sell Birkenstocks via mail order.


Birko-Cork, a malleable thermal cork, is developed for orthopaedic use.


The “Book about Foot Health” goes to print. First edition: 30,000 copies.


The first electro-mechanical moulding machine is developed. The machine uses a single adjustable mould to produce all sizes and widths in the correct proportions. This innovation puts Birkenstock far ahead in world markets.

History photo 2


Leather cutting production begins in St. Katharinen.


St. Katharinen receives additional modern cutting machines, equipped with 100-ton punch capacities.


The electro-mechanical moulding machine of 1973 is replaced with a new computer controlled system. This system produces four sizes simultaneously.


After three years of developing the thong sandal, it is introduced in five different styles.


The “Birkenstock Fussfibel” is published, first edition 360,000 copies. Two patents for Birkenstock thong sandals are registered.


Alex Birkenstock joins the company. Six additional patents for thong sandals and several other patents are registered for Birkenstock. Move to a bigger warehouse to improve customer service. The goal: to ship incoming orders the same day. The patent for “Fussbett” is extended for another ten years. Specialty stores order approximately 14 million consumer brochures.


New Birkenstock shoes are put into production. A new material, Birko-Cell is introduced to the orthopeadic market.


The new Birko Sport insole is offered to stores.


The Birkenstock branch in St. Katharinen is equipped with additional leather cutting machines. A warehouse is added. For the first time ever, Birkenstock produces styles in large sizes up to size 50. More than 2 million specialty catalogues are used for marketing purposes.


Christian Birkenstock joins the company. Environmentally friendly solvent-free glues are introduced into production. The added cost for large system upgrades and nearly doubled costs for glue are made up by improved bonding qualities. Again Birkenstock is leading the way in its environmental efforts. Chancellor Helmut Kohl visits Birkenstock.


Birkenstock takes over ALSA* with its sole and footbed production. A new four storey building for the production of insoles is built in addition to a new facility for orthopeadic production in Asbach.


Stephan Birkenstock joins the company. Expansion and modernisation of insole production for the benefit of the environment: Energy consumption is lowered by 90% and large heat regeneration units are installed into the ventilation system. In addition, new systems using heat for the generation of electricity and gas filtration are installed.

After the fall of the “Iron Curtain", Birkenstock is one of the first companies to commit to the Sachsen state and is now operating three facilities in the area with over 450 employees.

Birkenstock establishes Tatami*, a brand for leading orthopeadic specialty stores. The first styles, crafted on a new patented footbed, are well received by the public.


History photo 3


The Papillio* brand with its zesty shapes and always current colour programmes is developed. The president of the German parliament, Rita Suessmuth, visits Birkenstock.


Birkenstock delivers the first hand-stitched comfort shoes.


Construction of a large distribution centre in Vettelschoss has started. Birkis* is established and Alex Birkenstock becomes CEO.


Christian Birkenstock sets up Betula*, a new brand of affordable, alternative sandals and new footbed shapes. The attraction of Betula*: new classic and fashion colour combinations every month.


Birkenstock's hand stitched comfort shoes are now marketed by the newly established company Footprints*, which is registered as an independent brand worldwide. Construction of a new warehouse in Asbach. A system is developed to incorporate the upper material into the PU foam footbed. Birkis is the first brand to use this new system to produce sandals without the use of glues.


New high rise rack warehouse begins operating in Asbach. Groundbreaking ceremony for a new shipping facility in Vettelschoss takes place in July.


L+L* opens a new ultra-modern logistics centre in Vettleschoss.


The Birkenstock administration and sales offices are moved from Bad Honnef to Vettelschoss. In the spring of 1998 the retailer meetings hosted by Birkenstock are resumed.

Betula* purchases the castle “Burg Ockenfels” and transforms it into its customer service centre. In October, the new fully automated box storage unit with a capacity of 10,000 cartons becomes operational. Computer controlled processing enables shipping and receiving of 80,000 pairs of shoes per day.


Birkenstock is celebrating its 225th anniversary. Rising out of a shoe-maker's shop in 1774, Birkenstock is now supplying customers all over the world.

The planning stage of a second shipping facility in Vettelschoss in beginning to take shape. Birkenstock presents its products for the first time with a homepage on the internet: www.birkenstock.de. The second international dealer meeting with more than 200 participants takes place at the customer service centre in Vettelschoss.

The Footprints* company expands its program into a trekking collection as well as a ladies' and men's dress shoe line. Birkis is able to produce the world's first super light weight EVA clog .

History photo 4



The brand Tatami*, founded by Alex Birkenstock in 1990, celebrates its 10th anniversary. The Footprints brand now offers an elegant men's dress shoe collection.

The brand Birki's* introduces an EVA sandal collection manufactured without any glues. Plans are being made for a new automatic box storage system. This new system will enable staff to ship individual pairs of shoes even faster than before.


The production unit, S.S.P. is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Bernstadt/Saxony. The new automatic order picking machine has been completed, making it possible for 6,000 individual pairs of shoes to be added or removed from warehouse stock by computer each day enabling supply to customers within 24 hours of ordering.


The popular classic Boston, worn by many people around the world, is celebrating its 25th anniversay. An exclusive anniversary series is being presented.


The “Arizona” model - “Shoe of the Year” in 1990, turns 30.


In England, Birkenstock receives the Drapers Award as “Best Shoe of the Year” in aknowledgement of Birkenstock products' timeless design making them suitable for every age group, any occasion and all types of people.

A new L+L* logistics hall is set up next to the Birkenstock company headquarters.


The Birkenstock brand was awarded the Cleo Fashion Award 2006 in the category “Best Walking Shoe” in Singapore.


This year the Birkenstock brand once again won a prize in the “Best Walking Shoe” category at the Cleo Fashion Award in Singapore.

The three owners of Birkenstock Orthopadie GmbH Stephan, Alex and Christian Birkenstock take over their longstanding distribution partner, Birkenstock Distribution USA, to trade as Birkenstock USA, LP.


SAC Footwear GmbH & Co KG, which was founded in 2007 by the owners of Birkenstock Orthopadie GmbH & Co. KG will take over the marketing of Birkenstock insoles.


A new and larger footbed manufacturing facility in Gorlitz commenced operation in the spring of 2009.


BIRKENSTOCK remains a family company, maintaining these traditions up to this day.

BIRKENSTOCK represents not only top-end products manufactured with close attention to detail and a high proportion of manual work; there are many other positive factors involved in our company which emerge not least in the quality of our brand. Ecofriendly production and the use of select, high-grade and therefore long-lasting materials all helps to protect nature`s environment. Our workforce is committed and highly motivated, which is part of what satisfies our customers throughout the world. By maintaining a total of ten locations in Germany and continuously developing our production processes, we also support Germany as a location for our operations. BIRKENSTOCK products are, and will remain – from the buckles all the way to the sole.

Of course BIRKENSTOCK moves with the times. We are continuously developing our products in order to keep pace with our customers` high standards. New manufacturing processes aided by the latest technologies and the development of new materials and attractive models all form the foundation for this. In this way we will be able to offer you unique quality and unmatched comfort, walking and standing, today and tomorrow – you can rely on it.

* These firms are independent of the Birkenstock company; they are owned by the Birkenstock family, however.

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