The Birkenstock History: Tradition since 1774


Johann Adam Birkenstock is entered in the church archives in the city of Langen-Bergheim in Hesse as a "shoe maker and subject”.


Johann's great-great-grandson, master cobbler Konrad Birkenstock, who manages two speciality shoe stores in Frankfurt, begins production and sales of the flexible footbed insoles.


For the next 15 years, Konrad Birkenstock holds lectures in front of leading masters and guilds to explain his idea of a custom shoe and to sign license agreements for the manufacturing of his shoe with a footbed.

To this end, he travels through Germany and Austria. 1902 saw the development of the first flexible arch-support for insertion into factory-made shoes.


A large factory with extensive grounds is built and expanded in Friedberg, Hesse. The growing customer base requires a considerable daily production that is realised by having both a day shift and a night shift. The "Blue Footbed" is added to the production program.


Carl Birkenstock (Konrad’s son) starts the Birkenstock® training courses, which go on to become famous. In the following years, he trains more than 5,000 specialists during his one-week foot service courses. Leading physicians support the courses and the "Carl Birkenstock System".


The textbook "Podiatry - the Carl Birkenstock System" is published with a print run of 14,000 copies. Encompassing 112 pages, with 55 illustrations, Carl Birkenstock shared his guide to "Naturgewollten Gehen" (The natural way to walk), the step-sensory system, and healthy footwear. It becomes the best-selling textbook on podiatry of its day.


Karl Birkenstock introduced "Madrid" to the market, the first fitness sandal with a flexible, deep footbed, thereby laying the cornerstone for today's comfort shoe market.


The “Arizona” model is released, a sandal now synonymous with the Birkenstock style. Development of an innovative electromechanical moulding machine using a single adjustable mould to produce all sizes and widths in the right proportions makes Birkenstock® a global leader.


The "Birkenstock-Fussfibel" ("Birkenstock Foot Primer") by Karl Birkenstock is published with the first edition selling 360,000 copies.

Six additional patents for thong styles are registered for Birkenstock®, the much loved “Gizeh” thong makes its first appearance.


Alex Birkenstock, the second son of Karl Birkenstock, enters the family business.


Environmentally friendly adhesives are used in the production process for the first time, setting a new standard for environmental awareness worldwide.

Christian Birkenstock, the youngest son of Karl Birkenstock, joins the family business


Expansion and modernization of footbed production sees power consumption reduced by over 90%.

Stephan Birkenstock, the oldest son of Karl Birkenstock, enters the family business.


The Birkenstock family grows. A variety of licensed trademarks, such as Papillio, Footprints, and Betula, are established over the following years, so that the company can offer complementary and additional product groups.


The owners of Birkenstock Orthopädie GmbH & Co. KG took over their long-term distribution partner Birkenstock Distribution USA, Inc. (BDUSA).


A new and bigger footbed production facility was opened in Görlitz in the spring.


The year 2013 is characterised by one of the biggest changes in company history: Birkenstock becomes a corporation. The traditional company successfully implements the change from a loose group of 38 individual companies into a group with three business areas (production, sales, and services).

The group is in the hands of a management team, which for the first time does not come from the circle of the family: Oliver Reichert and Markus Bensberg jointly control the activities of the Birkenstock Group - a novelty in the company's 240-year history.


Birkenstock expands its product range with the natural cosmetics line, Birkenstock Natural Skincare and the Birkenstock Bed collection. In addition to healthy walking, standing and running; healthy skin and a healthy sleep also have a considerable impact on our wellbeing.


Birkenstock is recognised as the "Brand of the Year" by renowned magazines and media outlets worldwide. US shoe magazine "Footwear News" names it "Brand of the Year", while British Vogue awards the title "Sandal of the Year". Lyst index recognises Arizona sandals as "the world's hottest women's shoe".