The curious appeal of Birkenstocks


The curious appeal of Birkenstocks

The proudly orthopaedic sandals have shown that anything can become chic under the right circumstances

Rob Armstrong

I once thought acidic cartoonist John Callahan had the final word on the attractiveness of Birkenstocks. He pictured an earnest-looking doctor offering a pair to a patient: “I’m out of birth control pills — try wearing these.”

The point is not gender specific. On men or women, it is hard to imagine a shoe less conducive to sexual attraction, or any other type of attraction, than these dirt-coloured, Mitteleuropean, proudly orthopaedic sandals. To me they are like regular bowel movements: healthful and comfortable, but utterly without charm.

Such is my view, anyway; some share it. What is amazing to those of us who have been purposefully averting our eyes whenever a pair of Birks walks by is that the fashion world disagrees, and has done so for a long time now...

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