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Thierry Journo
I don’t like Birkenstocks. I hate them.

Thierry Journo


Thierry Journo - designer

Thierry Journo runs his own boutique under his label IDLI in Jaipur, India. This French all-round designer is active in all areas of lifestyle: “I design porcelain, furniture, rugs, lamps, men’s and women’s fashion – everything.” Journo has an almost passionate distaste for Birkenstocks. We visited him while he stopped over in Paris and learned what he dislikes about Birkenstocks in a highly amusing manner.

From the Louvre to Mugler to IDLI

Thierry Journo is passionate about the history of art and paintings. He began his training as a copyist at the Louvre in Paris. This was followed by jobs with Thierry Mugler and Andrée Putman. He subsequently assisted John Galliano with Givenchy’s haute couture. “I helped Galliano to finalize his illustrations for fashion shows.”

With all this experience under his belt, Journo branched out on his own and now runs his IDLI boutique in Jaipur. It is one of those places that has become a must for anyone who appreciates the beautiful things in life.

Birkenstocks make feet look fat

How does Journo go about creating fashion? “Fashion is like a mechanism in your mind. Once you have developed it, it is easy to understand all the different strands,” explains Thierry. “It’s essentially all about transposing certain aspects of the world to a shape.”

And which kind of fashion does he prefer? “Elegant posture! Whether in tennis shoes or jeans, it’s all about the proportions and elegance. And this is the problem I have with Birkenstocks – they make people’s feet look fat. I don’t understand the hype surrounding these shoes. For me, they are at best slippers. I don’t think people should be going outside in them. People can walk down the street in them if they want to, of course – but then I could walk down the street in my underwear, too. You know what I mean?”

Thierry Journo

Birkenstocks and elegance? Out of the question!

“I am aware that Chloé, Prada, and other fashion brands tried to make Birkenstocks fashionable. But the result is always the same – heavy feet you can barely lift off the ground. Birkenstocks make feet look like elephant feet. It’s laughable,” Thierry explains. Can you look elegant in Birkenstocks? “Absolutely not! I’m sorry, but if you ask me, Birkenstocks have absolutely nothing to do with elegance.”

A blend of style and medicine

There is something in particular that bothers him: “The blending of medicine and style. These are two entirely different things. Birkenstocks started out as medical shoes, right? They are very comfortable and give the feet a bit of a massage. I have a problem with a medical shoe being turned into a fashion shoe. The sandals are perfectly fine as occupational footwear in the health care sector – but they really don't belong in the world of fashion!”

A view of the Eifel Tower
A view of the Eifel Tower

There’s fashion – and there’s style

Thierry Journo knows his stuff, including when it comes to the history of fashion. Fashion is, he says, constantly undergoing change: “Every era emphasizes a different part of the body. In the 17th century, the neck was the most important part of a woman’s body, so the focus was on showing this off as best you could. Nowadays, it’s the waistline and hips. And maybe someday we will be most taken with people’s feet – who knows? Which is why it’s difficult to say you don’t like something from a fashion perspective. In my opinion, there is fashion – and there is style. Fashion comes and goes, style endures. And this is why I prefer to work on style.”

Comfort shouldn’t come first!

Journo goes on to explain that there were eras in which art, comfort, and aesthetics were combined to create incredible things. “But the problem in this day and age is that priority is given to comfort,” he believes. Art and aesthetics are considered to be of secondary important, he says. “I don’t think much of this development. Birkenstocks stand for comfort, but they most definitely do not stand for art. Birkenstocks are simply the antithesis of aesthetics! Voilà. That’s it.”

Has Journo ever even worn Birkenstocks? “Of course! I tried some on once to see what my feet would look like in them. And my only thought was ‘Good God, these definitely aren't my thing!’”

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