Rod Dreher

I guess if you wait long enough, everything will become fashionable. Twelve years after I started wearing them, Birkenstocks have become hip, or so says the NYTimes. This anecdote from their story will sound familiar to people who read my book “Crunchy Cons”:

“I’m obsessed,” said Andrea Linett, the creative director of Lucky, who, despite her own long-standing affection for the sandal (she favors the Arizona, the original ur-hippie two-strap, side-buckle style, in a color called “sand”), repeatedly failed in her efforts to persuade her husband to wear a pair.
“I’ve been hounding him for years, and he just wouldn’t do it,” she said. “And the whole time he was torturing his feet wearing boots in summer, with his feet sweating and no arch support.”
It was not that her husband, Michael Waring, a fashion photographer, objected to wearing sandals that purportedly improve one’s foot health and skeletal alignment. He just didn’t want to be caught with his feet encased in a cork-soled advertisement for a wheat-germ-and-Volvo lifestyle.
“But then he caved.”

Happened to me in exactly the same way, back in 1998, when my wife told me there was a way to help my feet, aching badly from too much time on the Manhattan sidewalks. Introducing reluctant me to Birks was one of the best things she ever did for me. I am not a comfort uber alles guy; I would rather go barefoot than desecrate my feet with Crocs, for example. But Birkenstocks have a clunky integrity to their design, and besides, they are by far the most comfortable shoes I’ve ever owned. I doubt they can be improved on. I would wear them in my sleep if I could. Though I finally replaced my ultra-durable first pair after having them resoled a couple of times, I couldn’t bear to part with them; they are so perfectly molded to my feet, and the cool, smooth leather upper soles — smoothed by years of wear — are mediators of pure serenity.
Want to be a Birkenstocked Burkean? You can get Birkenstocks online. I favor the Milano. Yeah, they’re expensive — but you can expect them to last for years, even under heavy use.

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