The Significance of Barbie’s Birkenstocks
Plus, where to get your own.
Amid all the glamorous fashion to come from the Barbie movie, one understated sartorial shoutout speaks serious volumes: Birkenstocks. They enter the story at a crucial moment when Barbie must make a life-altering decision. Upon learning of the real world, she’s faced with a Matrix red-pill-blue-pill-inspired choice. She can live on in plastic-covered ignorance by choosing a pink heel, or abandon Barbie Land and experience the cold hard facts of reality by selecting the brown Birk. Much to her chagrin, she has to pick the Birkenstock.
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This high-stakes scene is so much more than an arbitrary fashion debacle. It’s the culmination of the humble Birkenstock’s rocky history and winding reputation. You see, Barbie is known for being classically elegant, objectively beautiful and, despite Mattel controversies, undeniably popular. Birkenstocks? Not so much.
Since 1973, Birkenstock Arizona Sandals have been worn by teens, models and dads alike. But with thick double straps, cumbersome buckles and orthopedic cork footbeds, their signature structure has been polarizing to say the least. Pair them with socks or bare feet. Wear them with a dress or a pair of sweatpants. The Birkenstock’s clunky, functional design never seems to go out of style — or be entirely in style, either.
Adopted by hippie culture and then hipster culture, Birkenstocks spent decades as part of the niche “granola” aesthetic. This stereotype describes a wearer who is environmentally-minded, not on the frontier of fashion and generally kinda…frumpy. And yet, this same unrelenting design is part of Birkenstock’s cult classic appeal — just look at the array of high-fashion collabs it has under its belt (or buckle). In 2022, the brand even launched a campaign called “Ugly for a Reason,” shedding light on the importance of unglamorous foot health. Admirably, Birkenstocks are unapologetic about their appearance.
In recent years, a spin on the classic sandal design — the Birkenstock Boston Clog, seen by some as cute, seen by others as a “potato shoe” — was highly coveted, thanks to pandemic-induced prioritization of comfort. Cut to today: Barbie — arguably the most fashionable film of the year — is wholly embracing Birkenstocks’ image.
The film frames the sandal as an emblem of unpleasant, yet necessary, self-actualization. The footwear equivalent of the fruit of knowledge, if you will. In Barbie, Birkenstocks are literally the key to the universe. And that message has been received loud and clear: According to the global shopping platform Lyst, Birkenstock Arizonas have seen a boom in searches since the film’s release on July 21. Barbie’s power!
so do we think that de birkenstocks are in now just bc of barbie finale?? pic.twitter.com/FXvpZIAu4P
— Lara (@highasurfashion) August 1, 2023
At the end of the movie, Barbie reconciles with Birks. Now living as a human, her final outfit demonstrates this point: She has her blonde hair pulled back and is wearing a neutral blazer, jeans, and a pair of pink Birkenstocks — reportedly the Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle Nubuck Leather Sandals in rose, to be exact. Dressed to see her gynecologist, this ensemble makes a statement: The iconic doll doesn’t have to compromise her “girly” side to thrive in the real world. At last, Barbie and Birkenstock — and all that they represent — are existing in harmony.
It’s no wonder slide sandals are seeing newfound popularity in pink shades. From bedazzled styles to blush flatforms, below are the best Barbiecore takes on the Birkenstock concept.
Birkenstock Arizona Big Buckle Birkenstock Sandals
This pair — believed to be the same style worn by Margot Robbie in the film — put a Barbiecore-spin on the classic two-strap Birkenstock. Featuring large statement buckles and genuine leather straps, they offer a distressed and put-together look. The lightweight feel is great for walks in the park, running away from Mattel agents, and even, you know, going to certain specialist appointments.
BenSorts Pillow Sandals
With soles made of Ethylene-Vinyl Acetate (EVA) — a rubber-like material that is designed to feel softer and more flexible — these unisex slides are the definition of comfort made cute. With an easy slip-on design and adjustable buckles, they’re ideal for lounging, a day at the beach, or a cozy outing. It’s no wonder they’re a best-seller on Amazon.
Birkenstock Mayari Suede Sandals
This thong-style design puts a modernized spin on the signature Birkenstock double buckle sandal. Pictured in hot pink, it comes with a moulded footbed for optimal walkable comfort.
Blumarine Pink Suicoke Edition MOTO-Cab Sandals
Looking to be a bit…extra? Enter Blumarine’s take on the quintessential Birk. With functional velcro straps and foam rubber soles, these bubblegum slides are embellished with hot pink crystals.
Birkenstock Arizona Vegan Sandals
This Barbie is sustainable! With the iconic Arizona design, these light pink Birkenstocks have been created in a fully vegan textile. The upper is made of a soft fabric with a classic double-buckle finish, while the sole is made of walkable EVA.
UGG Women’s Sport Yeah Slide Sandals
Pictured in Taffy pink, this pair looks and feels like a treat. With easy slide-in appeal and a supportive back strap, the cushy footbeds can make any Barbiecore endeavour cozier. Did we mention they’re on sale?
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