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Andrea H. Schneider-Braunberger (Editor)


The Evolution of a Universal Purpose and Zeitgeist Brand

$ 65.00| £ 50.00 (* recommended retail price)

The remarkable history of a shoemaking dynasty, which dates back to 1774.

BIRKENSTOCK is a global brand—i.e., a brand with universal relevance—serving an essential human need: walking as intended by nature (naturgewolltes Gehen). This also means that BIRKENSTOCK is what we might call a “purpose brand,” a brand that makes a contribution to society beyond the corporate sphere. For two and a half centuries, the family has dedicated itself to foot health and has thus made brand history. In recent decades, the public perception of the Original Birkenstock Footbed Sandals has changed dramatically. These sandals have been a coveted item for health fanatics, a subcultural style item, a symbol of an anti-mainstream mentality, and, most recently, a “category killer”—owning an entire product category. Today a universal global audience gravitates around the values of this brand—uniting generations of wearers and people from all walks of life.

Although it was not until the 1970s that the brand began to attract international attention, the German history of BIRKENSTOCK’s shoemaking tradition is much older, dating back to 1774. For the first time, this remarkable company history has been comprehensively documented in a corporate history book. Beginning with the establishment of a shoemaking dynasty and telling the story through to modern times, it’s a tale of groundbreaking innovations and one family’s dedication to foot health. The title documents the work of key family members, such as Konrad and Carl Birkenstock, whose efforts permanently changed society’s understanding of footwear. It also explains the story behind the iconic Madrid model, brought to market by Karl Birkenstock in 1963, which was the company’s first step toward becoming a global brand—the shoe strikes a balance between health and fashion, allowing its wearers to walk as nature intended.

Crafted by 15 leading international historians and based on a research and writing process that was over seven years in the making, this book chronicles the family, brand, and corporate history of BIRKENSTOCK. It also examines the unusual combination of foot health and entrepreneurial passion from a wide variety of perspectives. The scientific research corrects a brand image that was previously characterized by clichés and gives the brand history, which was predominantly based on oral accounts, a solid foundation, while placing it in a broader historical and industrial context.

Hardcover, linen, 464 pages, 15,0 x 22,7 cm, 5.9 x 8.9 in, 70 b/w illustrations
ISBN: 978-3-7913-9332-2
Release date:
US June 11, 2024
UK April 11, 2024
Status of delivery: This title is available.


Andrea H. Schneider-Braunberger received her doctorate from the Goethe University Frankfurt in 1996 and has been managing director of the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte since then. She was president of the European Business History Association (EBHA), is a member of the Board of Governors of the Long Run Initiative (LRI), and is on the boards of various journals. Her research focuses on family businesses and banks in the first half of the 20th century. Her most recent publication is “Miele im Nationalsozialismus” (2023).

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