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Birkenstocks are ‘ugly for a reason,’ says brand’s new series

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By Audrey Kemp | Junior Reporter

July 1, 2022 | 3 min read

In Birkenstock’s first paid global campaign in its 248-year history, the brand uncovers the complex reasoning behind its timeless unisex sandal.

Unknown to most, shoes can not only make or break an outfit but have long-lasting effects on human health, per Birkenstock’s latest campaign, “Ugly for a Reason.”

Produced by T Brand Studio, the content studio for The New York Times, the three-part, documentary-style series aims to illuminate both the complexity of the human foot and the importance of proper footwear.

feet with text that reads "ugly for a reason"

Birkenstocks' campaign stresses the power of proper footwear / Birkenstock

Part one of the series, which premiers today, sheds light on the role feet have played in human evolution through interviews from Carl Ward, professor of paleontology at the University of Missouri and Benno M. Nigg, professor of biomechanics at the University of Calgary.

“Foot health is at the heart of everything we do at Birkenstock,” Birkenstock Group CEO Olive Reichert said in a statement. “Most people are born with healthy feet and develop painful foot issues because the shoes we’re wearing are often too small, too narrow or have heels that are too high. We want to draw attention to this and enable consumers to make better-informed decisions – no matter which footwear brand they ultimately choose.”

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Birkenstocks' roots date back to 1774 with the mention of cobbler Johann Adam Birkenstock in church documents. The German sandal maker bills itself as the “inventor of the footbed,” which describes the shoe’s orthopedically minded sole. Known for their comfortability and simplicity, the shoes are sold in over 100 countries, while the company employs some 5,500 people globally.

Episode two, “Finding Out Feet,” is slated to launch on August 11, and the final episode, “Stepping into the Details,” on September 21. View the pilot series here.

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