Fashion collaborations come in a variety of guises. Some result in an exciting fusion of design aesthetics while other designers probably should've just stuck to what they do best. Proenza Schouler and Birkenstock might not have been the most obvious of fashion bedfellows, but when these two brands dropped their first sandal collaboration in 2020, the fashion crowd couldn't get enough—and neither could I.
And, as it turns out, the now best-selling style isn't just a fashion-editor fave but a celebrity fave, too. And designer, presenter, and all-around-style icon Alexa Chung just wore them on holiday, firmly cementing the fashionable collab as an It shoe for the ages.
Complete with a printed shirt and denim mini, Alexa's look is a masterclass in off-duty holiday style and a look at just how versatile the elevated Birkenstock can be.
With all of Proenza's design know-how and the comfy, hard-wearing appeal of Birkenstock's iconic sandal, the collaboration first entered the market just as the "gorpcore" trend was hitting the big time. With their clean lines, pops of colour and comfortable fit, the sandals are a rare meeting of form and function. So it comes as no surprise that the sellout collection returned for 2022 and still looks as fresh as when it first dropped.
"Birkenstocks have always had a special place in our lives and are one of the few things that the two of us have in common from our separate and completely different childhood experiences," explain Proenza Schouler's co-founders, Jack McCollough and Lazaro Hernandez. "We each grew up wearing Birkenstocks, and as we went off to college in the '90s, they felt like such an iconic part of our wardrobes, but we really see them as timeless. We have such respect for the integrity of a pair of Birkenstocks. Our brands have a shared attention to quality and detail, so it made a lot of sense to join forces and create something that feels authentic and lasting.
"When we launched our last collection, it was right at the beginning of lockdown. Truthfully, we were a bit worried. Everything seemed to be falling apart when we were launching this really exciting project, but in the end, it was the perfect timing," they explain. "All people wanted to wear were Birkenstocks around the house with a pair of comfy socks, on their quick trips to the grocery store or on daily walks. The perfect quarantine shoe! And now, even though we are re-entering the world and socializing, we still wanted to keep that casual sensibility, that low-to-the-ground, comfortable, slip-on-and-go shoe. There's no fuss to it. For us, personally, we want to be comfortable but also want to feel polished with a bit of an elevated edge. The idea that you don't have to choose between those two states has been our biggest source of inspiration while designing."
I was lucky enough to road-test the latest collection, including new colours and the classic monochrome varieties that have proven popular with Chung. And yes, I can confirm that they are just as good as the first drop. They're comfortably cool and will look good with everything in your wardrobe. Scroll down to see and shop the sandals from the latest Birkenstock x Proenza Schouler collaboration.
Style Notes: If black and white isn't really your bag, then I recommend trying out this new rust hue, which will bring interest to your wardrobe staples. They look particularly good with jeans and a white tee, in my opinion.
Style Notes: There's a reason that the classic black sandal is coming back for the second collection. It's probably the most versatile style you can find. Wear with printed trousers, midi dresses, shorts and everything in between. Buy now, and wear forever.