Posted by Bethan Holt, Junior Fashion Editor at Large
 Birkenstocks, bless 'em, have long had a bit of a mixed reputation. They were mostly just ugly shoes which tended to go with hairy legs and camping clothes (sweeping generalistion). Of course, it was perfectly acceptable to have a pair at the back of your wardrobe to dig out for holidays and mooching about at weekends. Then last September Phoebe Philo did her thing, lining Birkenstock shaped sandals with fur and sticking gems all over them. Of course, they instantly became the ultimate objects of Spring/ Summer '13 desire and were christened "Furkenstocks". For those of us not quite in the position to be splashing £600 on oxymoronically furry sandals, real deal Birkenstocks (c.£50) seemed like a good second option.

 A classic Birkenstock look (via
This afternoon, EDITD reported that buzz around Birkenstocks has increased 20% in the past month with a 10% rise in their fan numbers. The fashion data company points out that this might be down to a Facebook competition which they hosted. Fascinating. Plenty of bloggers have been debating whether they should invest in Birkenstocks as an accessible way of getting on the Celine bandwagon. After all, Philo was arguably responsible in part for the huge resurgence of love for Vans after she produced luxe silky skater slip-ons.

Walking down Oxford Street earlier today (and before I saw the EDITD tweet) I clocked dozens of people wearing Birkenstock type shoes. What was so striking to me was how you could probably second guess each person's reason for wearing them. There were those who I'd surmise were absolute devotees who'd had theirs 20 years and never took them off. Then the nonchalant women who had probably pulled them from the back of the cupboard because of course they're the most obvious thing to wear in a heatwaverushing around Central London. Finally, the devoted fashion followers who'd probably recently purchased theirs in response to the Celine versions.

Coming back to EDITD's tweet, I wondered whether this rise in fan base was in any way down to Philo or just the result of an enticing competition? What is more influential, catwalk trends or brand digital engagement? Probably a bit of both.


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