Stefano Pilati, Fabio Piras and Kristina Blahnik on Rethinking Footwear, Redesigning Aesthetics

The third episode of BIRKENSTOCK’s Ugly for a Reason documentary series created in collaboration with T Brand Studio at The New York Times explores Karl Birkenstock’s groundbreaking orthopedic footbed and how the sandal went from being a laughing stock to an unlikely global style icon, crossing over with luxury fashion and architecture. BIRKENSTOCK speaks to fashion historians alongside three of the brand’s collaborators; Kristina Blahnik, CEO of Manolo Blahnik, Stefano Pilati, founder of Random Identities, and Fabio Piras, course director of MA Fashion at Central Saint Martins.

Kristina Blahnik

“Birkenstock has found its voice in the world of glamour,” says Kristina Blahnik, CEO of Manolo Blahnik, referencing the collaboration that marries both shoemakers’ passions for artistry and creativity. Embracing a bold and directional aesthetic, the iconic sandals are updated in jewel-tone velvet and leather with diamanté buckles.

Stefano Pilati

“You think of a sandal, you think of Birkenstocks. It’s that kind of design that’s really forever,” says Stefano Pilati, founder of Random Identities. For his collaboration, the Italian designer draws influences from his eclectic personal style to reimagine the Arizona in statement leopard print, calf hair and brocade.

Fabio Piras

Four MA Fashion students from London’s Central Saint Martins looked to BIRKENSTOCK’s archives for their experimental collaboration, which presented sculptural and avant-garde styles built around the signature contoured footbed. “This idea that your shoe cares for your foot resonates immensely” — Fabio Piras, course director of MA Fashion.