Classic, comfortable and fashionable, Birkenstock creates timeless sandals that have fused functionality and fashion to become an essential shoe in every man and woman’s spring/summer wardrobe. Despite its global appeal, the Birkenstock can still be something of an enigma if you’re new to the brand and its designs.
We’ve joined forces with our expert footwear buying team to answer all the questions you need to know about Birkenstock, whether you’re a first-time buyer or a seasoned Birks aficionado…
First Up: Where does the name Birkenstock come from? What does Birkenstock mean in German?
Birkenstock is the family name of the brand’s founder Johann Adam Birkenstock. Herr Birkenstock was first registered as a shoemaker in the German village of Neustadt, just outside Bonn, in the 18th century and Johann’s grandson, Konrad, was one of the world’s first shoemakers to experiment with insoles actually moulded to the shape of the foot rather than the traditional flat footbed.
Are all Birkenstock unisex?
Most Birkenstock sandals are unisex, however, certain styles are designed with women’s styling and gait in mind.
For example, the classic Arizona is designed in unisex sizes. Styles such as the Gizeh and Madrid however are women’s sandals that do have substitute styles for men (e.g. the Ramses is a toe-post sandal styled for both men and women).
It is worth noting that although they are unisex, Birkenstock sandals come in two widths—M and N—which can help differentiate between the different shapes of men’s and women’s feet!
Wanting to invest in a pair of Birkenstocks for yourself but wondering about sizing, take a look at our Q&A to clear up some of the most asked questions.
What does M and N mean in Birkenstock sizes?
Birkenstock sandals are available in two width sizes, M meaning medium and N meaning narrow. An M sandal fits like a regular, so if you have a wider foot opt for an M. An N sandal offers a slimmer fit for more petite feet.
Here at AllSole, all our N or narrow width sandals are marked as ‘Slim Fit’ in the title. Our M or regular fit Birkenstock are identified as ‘men’s’ sandals due to their wider fit being generally better suited for the shape of men’s feet. If you are a female seeking a wider ‘M’ fit, please choose from our men’s styles (which are in reality unisex!).
Are Birkenstock true to size?
Birkenstocks are designed to be roomy. They are designed to hold your foot but also give it room, so you don’t usually need to downsize. Measure the length of your foot by standing on a flat surface measure the distance from the back of your heel to the tip of your longest toe. Add 10mm to your foot length to allow your foot room to move.
To check the width of a pair you already own, you can tell the fit by inspecting the footbed where there is a small image of a foot. If the foot is filled in, the shoe is a narrow fitting; if the foot is just an outline, it’s a regular fit. Also, all stock codes for narrow fittings end with 3.
Do Birkenstocks run big or small?
Most styles run true to size, the Gizeh and Mayari styles tend to run narrower than the others so you may be a regular in these sizes if you are usually narrow. Remember you want a little bit of room to allow your foot to move. The footbed is supposed to fit your foot but not be tight. Most people are a regular fitting, only if your foot moves side to side when you walk and adjusting the strap does not help that is when you would opt for a narrow fit.
The sandals are supposed to hold your foot in place and stop any sliding. The moulded footbed and strap should support your foot as if you were wearing a sealed shoe. To make sure they fit you correctly stand up in the sandals with the straps undone. Make sure your toes are not overlapping or rubbing and then fasten the straps of the sandals up accordingly.