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BIRKENSTORIES


Birkenstories are the tales and portraits of people in BIRKENSTOCKS all over the world, whether a taxi driver in New Delhi, an American Nobel laureate, a papaya farmer from the jungle of Borneo, or an eccentric German manufacturer of expedition vehicles. They focus on characters who are unique – some in a big way, some in a little way. And they have all been committed wearers of BIRKENSTOCKS for years.


BIRKENSTORY #27
Nicholas Vreeland, Abbot of the Rato Dratsang Monastery in Southwest India

"He will never be the abbot. His nose is too big."
NICHOLAS VREELAND
"He will never be the abbot. His nose is too big"
The story of Nicholas Vreeland, Buddhist monk and only Western head of a Buddhist monastery, starts in the early 1980s, when the diplomat’s son left his expensive tailor-made shoes on the streets of New York and chose to live a simple life in simple sandals. Birkenstock visited the extraordinary man.


BIRKENSTORY #26
ATHÉNAÏS DE BÉRU – FORMERLY A BANKER, NOW A GROWER OF BIODYNAMIC WINES IN BURGUNDY

“I DID PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYTHING I WAS TOLD”
ROBERT RUTFORD
“I DID PRECISELY THE OPPOSITE OF EVERYTHING I WAS TOLD”
Athénaïs de Béru was once a banker, but in 2006 she took on her family’s 500-year-old wine-growing estate in the village of Béru in Burgundy. Traditions are strong here and people do things in a certain way. “I don’t want to sound disrespectful, but I did precisely the opposite of everything they told me,” Athénaïs told us.


BIRKENSTORY #25
MAYA WASOWICZ – KARATE FIGHTER AND EXCEPTIONAL ATHLETE

“FEELING FEAR IS PART OF LOSING.”
ROBERT RUTFORD
“FEELING FEAR IS PART OF LOSING.”
In the opinion of her coach, Maya Wasowicz is one of the ten best karate fighters in the world. When the Polish-born moved to New York at the age of eleven, she did not speak a single word of English. Her passion for sports introduced her to karate. Here, she could express herself perfectly.

Her big dream these days: to represent the USA and her discipline for the first time in the Olympics in Tokyo.

We talked to the Pan-American champion and third in the world championships about her unusual career and why the 25-year-old likes to wear Birkenstocks during victory ceremonies.


BIRKENSTORY #24
CHARLIE STRONG – PROFESSIONAL AMERICAN FOOTBALL COACH

“RULE NO. 1: HONESTY. RULE NO. 2: TREAT ME WITH RESPECT”
ROBERT RUTFORD
“RULE NO. 1: HONESTY. RULE NO. 2: TREAT ME WITH RESPECT”
Charlie Strong is a professional American football coach. His goal? To give young men a place in life. His formula? Honesty, respect, and team spirit. He told us what the title “first African American head coach in Texas” means to him.


BIRKENSTOCK WANTS YOU


Do you know any fascinating BIRKENSTOCK wearers whose story is just waiting to be told? Whoever it is, be it someone you know personally, a random discovery while on vacation, or anyone else anywhere else, we look forward to receiving all your suggestions.






BIRKENSTORY #23: Robert Rutford

Dr. Robert Rutford, one of the best-known Antarctic researchers and the man who Mount Rutford is named for, took his Birkenstocks to the South Pole. He told us why in a striking interview just a few months before his passing.

BIRKENSTORY #22: Thierry Journo

“I don’t like Birkenstocks. I hate them,” says the all-round designer Thierry Journo, who runs his own boutique in Jaipur under the label IDLI. When he stopped over in Paris, we learned in a highly amusing manner what exactly it is about Birkenstocks that he dislikes.

BIRKENSTORY #21: Ramdane Touhami

“I was like the teachers were always saying: ‘He has a huge potential, but he does shit,” says Ramdane Touhami. He was banned from school, was kicked out by his parents, and became homeless. Today, he is the owner of the global beauty empire Officine Universelle Buly. We met this all-rounder in Paris.

BIRKENSTORY #20: Shalene McCollum

Like all the women in her family, Shalene McCollum has fishing in her blood – her grandma was a commercial fisherwoman, too. “That’s always in the back of your mind to be a good fisherman, to make sure that you are protecting the resource,” she emphasizes. We visited the keen wearer of Birkenstocks in her home town of Petersburg, Alaska.

BIRKENSTORY #19: Thomas Südhof

“I don’t think Nobel Prizes are always awarded fairly. I’m delighted to have it, but it doesn’t set me apart from everybody else – I was lucky, others weren’t. So let’s simply get back down to work!” We met the die-hard Birkenstock fan in Stanford.

BIRKENSTORY #18: Yazemeenah Rossi

I discovered my first gray hair when I was about 12 – my granddaughter’s age,” relates Yazemeenah Rossi. Her hair was already almost entirely gray by her late 20s, when she embarked relatively late on an exemplary career as a photo model

BIRKENSTORY #17: Geoff Higgo

After a few crazy business ventures, father of four Geoff Higgo now runs an unusual car hire company in Cape Town with his partner Monika. He has worn nothing but Birkenstocks on his feet since 1986. “But always the Milano!”.

BIRKENSTORY #16: Mariah Nielson

Mariah Nielson’s father was the sculptor J. B. Blunk, a “master of the chainsaw.” She tells us about her father’s legacy – and how Birkenstocks became an integral part of the family.

BIRKENSTORY #15: Matto Barfuss

Matto Barfuss, successful wildlife filmmaker, achieved fame in the 1990’s after spending months living among cheetahs. We caught up with Matto in the Kalahari Desert in Botswana, where he is shooting his latest film, about meerkats; and despite sometimes challenging environmental conditions, is always wearing his Birkenstocks.

BIRKENSTORY #14: Romany Pajdak

Romany Pajdak decided she wanted to be a professional dancer at the age of ten. She is now one of the best ballerinas in the world. We met her and her 15-year-old Birkenstocks in London.

BIRKENSTORY #13: Bernd Brinkmann

„I’ve been wearing Birkenstocks for 45 years,” wrote Bernd Brinkmann. We met the man who has been a Birkenstock fan from the get-go – and a person who has demonstrated the ability to make a comeback in life.

BIRKENSTORY #12: Scott Miyako

Proponents of sustainability are in the right place in Portland, Oregon. This is where the autodidact and manufacturer of top-notch traditional straight razors Scott Miyako lives. We visited Scott, who wears Birkenstocks out of conviction, and spoke to him about quality and sustainability.

BIRKENSTORY #11: Bernd-Michael Land

Inspired by the pioneer of electro music Karlheinz Stockhausen and the 1968 electronic album Switched-On Bach, Bernd-Michael Land discovered his own musical style. And this unconventional guy from Hesse has gone on to produce 17 albums. We visited him and learned about his philosophy of colorful hair, sound art, and V8 engines.

BIRKENSTORY #10: Mike Whalen

A gray beard and long, thinning hair, stylishly paired with a suit, a tie, and Birkenstocks. We paid a visit to the affable defense attorney Mike Whalen and found out why he only wears Birkenstocks, even in the highest courts. And that he finds murders far more interesting than divorces.

BIRKENSTORY #9: John Zainer

If you’re in Los Angeles and you spot a 1950s race motorcycle with a rider who has a portrait of Beethoven on the back of their leather jacket, it’s pretty certain you have just spotted John Zainer.

BIRKENSTORY #8: Rainer Felsen

Rainer Felsen has worked as a music producer for 40 years. His penchant for finding hits has earned him multiple gold records. Despite these huge successes, Rainer Felsen is still down-to-earth.

BIRKENSTORY #7: Rachel Marshall

The ginger beer she wanted didn't exist that's why Rachel Marshall decided to make it herself. Six years ago she founded Rachel's Ginger Beer - and now she employs 80 people. We met Rachel in Seattle where she told us her Birkenstory.

BIRKENSTORY #6: Cole Bennett

He already has more than a million subscribers to his YouTube channel, his videos have been watched by hundreds of millions of people, and a recent highlight was him being interviewed for the legendary magazine Rolling Stone: Cole Bennett is a music-video director from Chicago with his own platform for artists called Lyrical Lemonade.

BIRKENSTORY #5: Jeff Abarta

Jeff Wears Birkenstocks? written by the world-famous punk rock band NOFX. The first thing we asked ourselves was “Who is Jeff and does he really exist?”. So we began to dig around a little.

Birkenstory #4: Florian Akinbiyi

The Bavarian with Nigerian roots works as an event manager in Dubai. We spoke with Florian.

BIRKENSTORY #3: Johannes King

Without a doubt, Johannes King runs one of the world's finest and most beautiful Michelin-star rated restaurants/hotels. We visited him at this incredible property, Söl’ringhof, in Rantum on the island of Sylt.

BIRKENSTORY #2: Thomas Waas

Thomas is CEO of the company Unicat and has a passion for building individual expedition vehicles. We had the chance to visit him at his unconventional office.

BIRKENSTORY #1: Hanna Wolf

Hanna is a master tailor and fashion designer. We caught up with the pleasant designer at her studio in the trendy Glockenbach neighborhood of Munich.



BEHIND THE SCENES
The people behind the Birkenstories
Behind the Scenes
BEHIND THE SCENES
The people behind the Birkenstories
Do you want to know about how we came across these stories and where they originate from?