The history of BIRKENSTOCK

Unique wealth of experience

The success of BIRKENSTOCK is rooted in its commitment to the art of making orthopedically inspired shoes. Over the centuries, it has built up a wealth of unparalleled experience that it has passed down from one generation to the next, with each generation cultivating and further expanding this knowledge.

 

  • 1774
    Johann Adam Birkenstock is listed in the church archives of Langen-Bergheim, a city in the German state of Hesse, as a "subject and cobbler".
  • 1896
    Master cobbler Konrad Birkenstock, who runs two specialty shoe stores in Frankfurt, begins manufacturing and selling flexible footbed insoles.
  • 1899
    Konrad Birkenstock begins giving specialist lectures over a period of 15 years for leading master cobblers and guilds to explain his concept of fully malleable, custom-made shoes and sells licenses allowing others to produce his innovative footbed shoe design. He travels throughout Germany and Austria for this purpose.
  • 1925
    In Friedberg, Hesse, a larger factory with extensive grounds is purchased and expanded. A substantial daily production rate is necessary to meet the demands of the company’s large customer base and production runs around the clock in day and night shifts. The “blue footbed” is among the products manufactured.
  • 1932
    Carl Birkenstock launches the BIRKENSTOCK training courses, which are soon highly regarded within the industry. In the years that follow, over 5,000 professionals take part in his week-long podiatry and specialist footwear courses. Leading physicians endorse the courses and the “Carl Birkenstock system”."
  • 1947
    Podiatry – The Carl Birkenstock System is published with a print run of 14,000 copies. Over 112 pages and with 55 illustrations, Carl Birkenstock expounds his theories about the “natural gait” – the footprint system – and healthy footwear. At the time, it is the highest-selling podiatry textbook.
  • 1963
    Karl Birkenstock launches the Madrid model, the first fitness sandal with a deep and flexible footbed, thereby laying the foundation for today’s comfort footwear market.
  • 1972
    The Book of Foot Care by Karl Birkenstock is published with a print run of 30,000 copies.
  • 1973
    An electromechanical molding machine is developed that can produce all sizes with the correct proportions in a seamless process based on a single model. This process also makes it possible to adjust the width and customize the heel and front areas of the shoes. This development makes BIRKENSTOCK a leading shoe manufacturer worldwide.
  • 1983
    The BIRKENSTOCK Foot Primer by Karl Birkenstock is published with a print run of 360,000 copies.
  • 1984
    Alex Birkenstock, Karl Birkenstock’s second son, joins the family business.
  • 1988
    Environmentally friendly adhesives are used in the production process for the first time. The move reflects BIRKENSTOCK’s environmental awareness and sets an example worldwide.

    Christian Birkenstock, Karl Birkenstock’s youngest son, starts working for the family business.
  • 1990
    Stephan Birkenstock, Karl Birkenstock’s oldest son, joins the family business.

    Footbed production is expanded and modernized with due regard for environmental considerations: energy consumption is reduced by over 90 percent.
  • 1991
    A variety of licensed trademarks are established over the following years, so that the company can offer complementary and additional product groups.
  • 2007
    The owners of BIRKENSTOCK Orthopädie GmbH & Co. KG take over their long-standing distribution partner BIRKENSTOCK Distribution USA, Inc. (BDUSA).).
  • 2009
    A new, larger footbed production facility is commissioned in spring 2009 in Görlitz.
  • 2013
    2013 heralds one of the most significant turning points in the company’s history: BIRKENSTOCK becomes a corporation. The traditional company successfully makes the transition from a loose network of 38 separate companies to a group with three business units (production, distribution, services). The group is led by an executive team, which for the first time is not composed of family members – an unprecedented event in the company’s almost 240-year history. Oliver Reichert and Markus Bensberg are in charge of the activities of the BIRKENSTOCK Group.
  • 2014
    BIRKENSTOCK enters the licensing business. With the help of licensing partnerships, the shoe manufacturer takes over new strategic business segments, markets and target groups. The new lines focus on four themes that perfectly complement BIRKENSTOCK’s brand essence: healthy living and sleeping, healthy workplaces, healthy feet, as well as running and a healthy approach to life.