Birkenstock History

1774: In a small German village, Johann Adam Birkenstock is registered as "subject and shoemaker" in the church archives.

1897: Johann's grandson, Konrad Birkenstock, develops a concept that would literally change the shape of footwear. Although the soles of our feet are curved, shoes had always been flat inside. Konrad theorized that if the shape of the shoes reflected the shape of the feet, greater comfort would be possible. Soon he designed the first shoe with a contoured insole to be used by shoemakers in the production of custom footwear.

1902: Konrad Birkenstock develops the first flexible arch support, to be inserted in the factory-made shoes that have become widely distributed in Germany.

1925: Carl Birkenstock joins the company. Birkenstock arch supports are now being exported to Austria, Switzerland, France, Italy, Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Holland, Luxembourg, Denmark, Sweden and Norway.

1932: Birkenstock training seminars and lectures become well known in most European countries. Leading medical specialists support the seminars and the Birkenstock system.

1964: Carl Birkenstock's son, Karl, takes his grandfather's contoured arch support concept one step further -- as a shoe. The Birkenstock sandal is born.

1966: While on vacation in Germany, Margot Fraser seeks relief from uncomfortable shoes and the tiring effects of walking all day on hard pavement. At a spa, someone suggests that she try Birkenstocks.

Margot enjoys immediate comfort with her first pair of Birkenstocks. Moreover, she finds that the chronic foot pain she had endured for years simply vanished within months after she returned home to California. Convinced of its health benefits, she begins importing Birkenstock footwear in America. That was the beginning of Birkenstock USA, in California.

1971: Margot expands her business to a small San Rafael, CA warehouse.

1973: The Arizona, the style that has become synonymous with the Birkenstock brand, is introduced. Birkenstock's popularity explodes during the 1970s.

1985: By the beginning of the 80s, Birkenstock is a household word throughout the country. The continually expanding Birkenstock line now features over 40 style/color combinations.

1996: Birkenstock USA celebrates its 30th anniversary. Birkenstock offers almost 300 style/color combinations, and the footwear is distributed to millions of people throughout the United States.

1997: Margot Fraser and Birkenstock USA receive several prestigious awards of recognition from the footwear industry. Awards included the Ernst and Young 1997 Retail Entrepreneur of the Year in Northern California (one of ten top businesses to receive this award); the Novato Chamber of Commerce 1997 Large Business of the Year; and induction into the Footwear News Hall of Fame in honor of extraordinary business practices, outstanding contributions to the Marin County community, and for dramatically influencing what Americans wear on their feet.

2002: In October 2002, Birkenstock USA announced that the company was 100 percent employee owned. Margot Fraser, the company founder, passed on the remaining shares of the business she founded more than 35 years earlier, to her successors – the employees who continue to help build the Birkenstock USA company.

2002: Birkenstock celebrates the 25th anniversary of the Boston clog!

2003: Known as a comfort icon for the past three decades, Birkenstock's famous Arizona two-strap sandal celebrates its 30-year anniversary in 2003. It's unique shape pioneered the idea of form following function. Today, the Arizona is a steadfast old friend and a hip, on-trend style for the fashionable set.

2006: The company celebrates its 40th Anniversary in the U.S.

 

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