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Rating: Four pairs of red, boiled-wool kitty slippers out of four.
Birkenstocks are having a fashion moment. They are not just health-food shoes, footwear of choice of aging hippies with hairy legs and armpits.
They are everywhere, worn by every demographic from fashionable young women to seniors. The Olsen Twins wear them.
Birkenstocks could be the new Blahniks. Marc Jacobs, Celine and Givenchy have designed their own takes on them. Celine’s notorious fur-lined sandals from the Spring 2013 collection were dubbed “Fur-kenstocks.” Miley Cyrus couldn’t get enough of them so Kanye West bought her five pairs.
Ground zero for Birkenstocks is the family-run Dorfer Shoes, around since the ’60s when the store was painted purple, specializing in European orthopedic footwear. But they are not the broccoli of shoes — you wear them because they are good for you. I am surprised by the stylish/funky footwear at Dorfer’s. There are lines like Trippen, a fashion-forward German brand that collaborates with edgy designers like Issey Miyake. Exhibit A: A very cool pair of strappy purple Trippen wedge sandals on sale for $248.50; a pair of silver perforated lace-ups are very Marsèll but a third of the price.
I gravitate to the most expensive footwear in the store, a pair of $360 boots that look like the love child of riding boots
and combat boots from the Italian-label Roda. The boots are so comfy, I feel like I am padding around barefoot. They are on sale for $262. It’s a no-brainer. Sold!
“We carry orthopedic shoes, boots, sandals — all good for the body,” Kim says. “They are all leather, no synthetics. People are getting smarter, they don’t want to suffer.
“I have a customer who is a model and takes a size 10. She said that sometimes they have to wear a (sample) size 7 or 8 high-heeled shoe. That’s why they aren’t smiling when they walk down the runway.”
Unlike my fellow customer, who is beaming as she tries on a slew of shoes. She looks vaguely familiar. Turns out she is one of the podiatrists at my foot clinic; I didn’t recognize her without the white coat.
She has wide feet so she loves the accommodating Ganter line. “I bought my first pair of Ganters here in 1983 and I was so happy with them, I came back,” she says, rocking a pair of black Ganter Mary Janes.
I lust after the brogues from Ganter, in a range from black patent leather to purple suede.
I try on a soft, supple leather brogue with a substantial but not ridiculous heel from the Italian line Maripe and it feels like butter.