Shoes, sandals at Zappos.com :
Donald J Pliner
About Birkenstocks: In the 1890s, Konrad Birkenstock had a revolutionary idea. Why not create a curved shoe that reflects the true shape of the human foot? He knew he had a good idea, so he decided to develop a flexible, contoured arch support that could be inserted into new factory-made shoes. The result was a uniquely comfortable shoe. Thus, the century-old Birkenstock shoe making operation shifted from the production of custom footwear to orthopedic shoe inserts.
Konrad and his son Carl improved and refined the arch supports over the next 50 years. Their unique and popular product became known as "footbed supports" and the word "footbed" was registered as a Birkenstock trademark.
In 1954, Konrad's grandson Karl joined the family business. Not content to limit the Birkenstock product line to footbed supports, Karl dreamed of creating a shoe that would allow the wearer to feel as comfortable and healthy as walking barefoot. To create this shoe, he combined his grandfather's flexible, contoured arch supports with his own knowledge of foot structure and movement.
In a little more than 10 years, his dream became a reality with the introduction of the Madrid.
Today, Birkenstock offers more than 400 styles of sandals, clogs, and shoes. Birkenstocks are available in a wide range of materials, colors, and sizes, and new materials and styles are introduced each year. Yet Birkenstock remains faithful to the idea that footwear should be designed first for the feet and should be built to last.
BIRKENSTOCK and The Green Team
The cork used in the insoles of Birkenstock sandals is a renewable resource, and is harvested by skilled laborers within the European community as by-product of the bottling industry . The footbed can be replaced easily and repeatedly for longer product life. This appeals to the "reduce, reuse and recycle" concept instead of the high consumption aspect of buying a new flashy pair as the old ones wear down or fall out of style. Unlike the competition, Birkenstock only puts out a few new styles and colors each year, sticking with a base of classics. This leaves less to accumulate and to throw away on the consumption side. On the production and retail side it also means less shipping, packaging and inventory.
The Birkenstock Green Team is a US Birkenstock institution, started at its inception in the sixties. It consists of a "small group of employees who meet voluntarily to monitor, research, and resolve environmental issues in the workplace, and to educate fellow employees about sound environmental practices" (Birkenstock Green Team). The Green Team works with the Birkenstock Managerial Team to create a sound environmental workplace.
These ideas also come through in the packaging Birkenstocks uses for its shoes, care products and shipping, with the majority being recycled and recyclable .
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To The Max!