Birkenstock’s Central Saint Martins collaboration highlights four emerging designers

After submerging themselves in the brand’s 250-year history, these fashion graduates put their own spin on Birkenstock’s iconic sandal

March 1 marked the much-anticipated launch of the Central Saint Martins X Birkenstock collaboration, featuring the works of four winning MA Fashion graduates.

This exciting project has been two years in the making, following the CSM BA Fashion History & Theory students’ initial series of research trips to Birkenstock archives in the US, Germany, Japan, and Italy, where they submerged themselves in the brand’s 250-year history. The 2018 investigation led to a design initiative calling on students of the MA Fashion course to put their own spin on the iconic Birkenstock shoe; and, in turn, guide the brand into the future.

Among the four graduates is Saskia Lenaerts, whose work involves the discovery of limitations. Lenaerts designed The Terra Style with a clear nod to Birkenstock’s quintessential Milano Sandal, and as a celebration of the foot itself.

Alecsander Rothschild, a Danish designer, seeks to provoke the mind and eye as well as gender stereotypes. Through his love of sculpture, his Bukarest shoe is a commemoration of clean and geometric design, making the shoe an art form.

British designer Alex Wolfe has designed his own version of the Rotterdam Moto Sandal. Inspired by his questioning of masculinity within the motocross sphere, Wolfe’s shoe includes a shin guard for the modern warrior.
The fourth and final shoe, designed by Dingyun Zhang, is named The Cosy Style. Zhang is driven by the desire to achieve a more sustainable future for fashion. In homage to the original purpose of footwear, he has created a shoe that prioritizes utility and comfort over luxury.

The designers’ modern and striking takes on Birkenstock’s iconic shoes are a refreshing change, highlighting current issues such as gender expectations and sustainability within fashion. The collaborative project offers an encouraging glimpse into the future of an industry that thrives on constant reinvention.