Birkenstock boom: Switzerland has fallen for these iconic sandals
Behind the scenes

Birkenstock boom: Switzerland has fallen for these iconic sandals

Catherine Barth
18.10.2023
Translation: Katherine Martin

Going from hippie relic to trendy bestseller, Birkenstock sandals are taking Switzerland by storm. Galaxus has already sold more Birkenstocks in 2023 than in any previous year. At the same time, these iconic shoes have established themselves not only as slippers, but also as hotly sought-after summer sandals.

Hot or not? With their signature cork footbeds and minimalist design, German-made Birkenstock sandals divide opinion. While some have decried them as frumpy, tree-hugger slippers, others have long hailed Birkenstocks as iconic. This year’s box office sensation Barbie has also helped propel the former hippie sandals into the limelight. In a key scene, Barbie swaps her pink pumps for a pair of brown Birkenstocks. Subsequently, reports of a Birkenstock boom hit the headlines. Last week, the German company also went public on the New York Stock Exchange. With all of this going on, there was something I was keen to find out: are these iconic sandals selling well on Galaxus?

The bestseller

Birkenstock orders at Galaxus have been steadily increasing over the last few years. This year, more Birkenstocks have hit virtual shopping carts than ever before, with most sales recorded in June. At the beginning of summer 2023, the online retailer sold almost twice as many Birkenstock shoes as it did in June 2022 – a growth rate of 98 per cent. Over the summer as a whole, sales of Birkenstocks were up 53 per cent on last year.

So far this year, Birkenstocks account for 30 per cent of this year’s sandal sales and 17 per cent of slipper sales, making them the most popular sandals in the Galaxus range. When it comes to shoes for inside the home, Crocs are the frontrunners – the US footwear giant accounts for 42 per cent of slipper sales at Galaxus.

«The Birkenstock boom has definitely hit Galaxus too,» says Lina Friedrich, Category Business Manager for Sport and Fashion at Galaxus. One variety in particular is proving especially popular: «By far the best-selling Birkenstock is the Arizona in black. It’s an absolute classic,» Lina says. In fact, more than 1 in 2 pairs of Birkenstocks sold on Galaxus are Arizona models. This puts the Arizona at the top of Galaxus’s bestseller rankings in the slippers and sandals categories, both for men’s and women’s footwear. Incidentally, the Arizona is the sandal that Margot Robbie wore in the Barbie movie.

Birkenstock Arizona Birko
89.10

Birkenstock Arizona Birko

Birkenstock Arizona Birko
Sandals
89.10

Birkenstock Arizona Birko

Those most likely to wear Birkenstocks? People living in Zurich. Around 32 per cent of all Birkenstock orders this year have come from the city-canton. Bern, the second most populous canton in Switzerland, accounts for about 13 per cent. The cantons of Vaud and Aargau follow in third place, each generating 9 per cent of all Birkenstock orders.

First the Barbie effect, now the IPO

Following last week’s IPO, it remains to be seen how sales figures will develop in the future and how rising Birkenstock prices will influence demand. After all, the IPO was coupled with the takeover of Birkenstock by LVMH, the luxury goods juggernaut whose portfolio of brands includes Louis Vuitton, Christian Dior and Moët Hennessy.

The takeover, Lina says, will push up Birkenstock prices. «As long as there are no good alternatives on the market and Birkenstock maintains its high standards of quality, I don’t think raising prices will do the company any harm.» She goes on to say that Swiss customers are quality-focused, suggesting that if Birkenstock were to start cutting corners at the expense of quality, it could get itself into a tricky spot in the Swiss market.

What do you think? Are Birkenstocks cool? Do you already have a pair or two? Are they just for around the house? Or would you wear them outside too? Let us know in the comments.

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