History of Birkenstock Shoes

Birkenstock is a famous shoe company that was launched by Johann Adam Birkenstock in the year 1774 in Germany. The name of the company starts with the last name of the founder of the company. The company is known for its amazing shoes and sandals and their comfort and build quality. It all started with Johann’s passion and creative concepts for crafting shoes, which he always wanted to do as his profession.

Johann was very committed to his work, and this dedication passed down from generation to generation, to Konrad Birkenstock, who was the great-grandson of Johann. The grandson had a visionary idea of making and selling flexible footbeds in the shoes, commonly known nowadays as insoles. The thing that transformed the company was Konrad’s plan and brilliant thinking in bringing the element of comfort, in the form of footbeds to the shoe industry.

These shoes are also famous for their comfort and ease to wear and are very beneficial for people with Orthopedic and muscular problems. These shoes are also known as Hari Krishna shoes and monk shoes for their comfort and ease to wear and walk.

Evolution of Birkenstock Shoes

Who would have thought Johann Adam Birkenstock would start something that would last for generations, making history and massive innovations in the footwear industry. The company and its shoes evolved and changed a lot over the year but kept the same concepts in mind that would separate a Birkenstock shoe from the rest.

The Birth of Birkenstock Shoes

The famous German footwear brand was launched in the 18th century in 1774 in the small village of Langen-Bergheim, called Hessian.

Development of Footbed in 1896

The great-great-grandson of Johann named Konrad developed the first shoe sole to be used by producers for production in the custom shoes. He also opened two shops in Frankfurt, where he continued to make and sell flexible footbed shoe soles.

Demand for Konrad’s Shoe Soles Increased in 1925

Konrad’s success grew more and more as the shoe sales increased rapidly. He started looking for a larger facility for production in 1925. He bought a large factory in Friedburg, Hesse, to expand the business and increase its production.

The demands for Konrad’s shoe soles increased even more after World War II to the point it became popular among the soldiers for its orthopedic support. The number of customers increased even more as new shoe soles developed. The shoe soles called “Blue Footbeds” are still very popular as they are blue and comfortable.

Carl Birkenstock Launched a Training Program in 1932

Carl Birkenstock launched a training program that became very popular in countries like Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. Over 5,000 professional people took part in this one week course. Many famous physicians supported the training program, seminars, and the system.

“The Carl Birkenstock system” was published in 1947

In 1947 “The Carl Birkenstock system” was published with 14,000 printed copies. It had over 112 pages with 55 explanations in which Carl Birkenstock presented and explained his theory about the “Natural Pace.” He also explained the footprint system and what healthy shoes are.

It was one of the highest-selling books of that time.

Karl Birkenstock Developed his First Sandal in 1963

1963 was the year that gave rise to Karl Birkenstock’s revolutionary idea. He first developed a sandal which was launched in Madrid, Spain. It was considered to be the first flexible sandal with a very deep and flexible footbed. The original name of the launch was “Gymnastic Sandals,” and the name is still the same today. It played the foundation of comfortable footwear in the market.

Birkenstock Shoes were introduced in the United States

Birkenstock shoes were introduced in the US by a lady named Margot Fraser while she was visiting Germany. Margot liked them so much that she started a trading company called Birkenstock Footprint Sandals, Inc. in Novato, California. Later, it was renamed to Birkenstock Distribution USA, Inc.

Birkenstock Started Using Eco-Friendly Adhesive

Birkenstock started using environment-friendly and safe adhesives in 1988. They are known as the first shoe manufacturers to use adhesive materials that were soluble in water and solvent-free in all the production processes. Moreover, they worked hard to reduce the number of solvents contained in them. The portion of environment-friendly adhesives is more than 95% today.

Energy Requirements Reduced By Birkenstock in 1990

Birkenstock reduced the energy requirements by developing special equipment and improving the production process as well. They reduced the energy requirements to less than 90%. They used power plants and combined heat at many different locations to reduce the energy used. The plants allowed them to capture the heat that escapes when the electricity is generated.

The Birkenstock Family Grew More in 1991

As the Birkenstock family grew, so did the new partnerships. They made partnerships and licensed trademarks with companies like Papillio and Betula to manufacture better soles and sandals. They began manufacturing sandals in 1991 with the design done by Paillio and Betula.

The Owners Took Over Birkenstock Distribution In 2007

The owners of Birkenstock Orthopadie GmbH and Co. KG took over the Birkenstock distribution agency called Birkenstock Distribution USA, Inc. in 2007. The company headquarters is located in Novato, California, where BDUSA exists now.

Birkenstock Distribution USA, Inc. was the sole importer and distributor of the shoes till 2007, and that is when they officially decided to purchase the distribution company in the US.

The Sleep Systems Were Built in 2007

After the success in the shoe industry, Birkenstock expanded its business to sleeping beds. They started manufacturing beds and mattresses with the same comfort concept of shoes, providing consumers with the ultimate softness and comfort they desire.

The company has managed to produce and manufacture a collection of premium quality beds and mattresses. It was only possible due toits partnership with a premium manufacturer called ADA that had a philosophy similar to Birkenstock.

A New Production Facility Grew in Gorlitz in 2009

A new and larger production facility of footbeds grew in Gorlitz in 2009. It also came into operation at that time.

The Birkenstock Group Formed in 2013

In 2013, Birkenstock became a corporation. The company made a successful transition from 38 separate companies to a merger group that consisted of three business units of production, distribution, and services. Unlike other companies, the group was then led by the executives of the team and not by the family members.

Marcus Bensberg and Oliver Reichert are in charge of the Birkenstock group’s activities.

Birkenstock Expanded the Product Range in 2014

Birkenstock took the business to another level as it expanded its range of products from shoes, sandals, and soles. The main focus of the company was on two things: healthy living and healthy sleeping.

Award was given to the Company In 2018

The company not only produced shoes for humans but animals as well, and for that, it was given the PETA’s Libby award for being the “Most Animal-Friendly Shoe Company” in the world.


Birkenstock Company has played a vital role in developing the shoe and footwear industry. The family of Birkenstocks, starting from Johann, revolutionized the footwear industry by introducing not only environment-friendly products but also products that would provide ultimate comfort to the consumers in terms of footwear and sleeping beds.

If the company hadn’t existed, the concept of footbeds or soles wouldn’t have been around now. Moreover, they have provided solutions on how to increase production efficiency while reducing the energy used and making a significant impact on our society.