German-based Birkenstock allowed a rare glimpse behind the curtain with a profile by The Cut that included a visit to the company’s headquarters and one of its factories. Written by fashion writer Cathy Horyn and shot by photographer Juergen Teller, the story included exchanges with CEO Oliver Reichert and honed in on the company’s recent upswing in popularity, which was in part spurred by Phoebe Philo who put a fur-lined versions of an Arizona sandal on Céline’s fall 2012 runway.
The company is private and therefore doesn’t provides sales figures, but sales are estimated to have tripled from 2012 to $800 million annually. According to the article, more than half of the 25 million pairs of shoes Birkenstock will produce this year will be the three classic sandals, led by the famed Arizona silhouette.
Notably, the article reveals Birkenstock recently turned down offers to collaborate with Supreme and Vetements, mainly because the brand is at over capacity and doesn’t need the added publicity. On a hopeful note for Balenciaga fans, Richert let it be known following the interview he would allow the marketing department to reopen discussions with Balenciaga.
At the same time, Birkenstock hasn’t completely eschewed fashion collaborations. Recently it has set up a series of pop-up shops in association with Barneys and Berlin Fashion Week and also collaborated with Rick Owens, the first top designer to work with the brand.
Still Richert remains cautious on the concept of collaborations and views the focus on a handful of talented designers as problematic. Using Chanel as an example, Richert said, “Is there any chance that I will get somebody like a Karl Lagerfeld? Maybe. But is Karl Lagerfeld the gravedigger of Chanel or the god of Chanel? Because what’s after Lagerfeld? I mean, it’s a serious question. Who will fill this gap when he is gone?”