Since its inception in 1774 by Johann Adam Birkenstock, the German-made orthopaedic shoe has transcended its solely functional purpose of alleviating foot ailments, becoming a mainstay in many of our wardrobes. From its buckle-bound foot-cradling Arizonas that are as good on a supermarket run in the rain as they are tucked under a date night dining table, to the Birkenstock Bostons, which are beloved by kitchen staff and the fashion pack alike.

In recent years, Birkenstock has adapted to varying stylish sensibilities, collaborating with fashion and lifestyle brands to infuse their signature styles with contemporary flair. Previous partnerships have included minimalist masters Jil Sander and TooGood, streetwear outfitters Stüssy and Danish lifestyle mavericks Tekla, bringing a fresh edge to Birkenstock's multitude of classic designs.

Today, slipping into a pair of Birkenstocks isn't just about making a statement—it's about embracing a lifestyle rooted in comfort. Regardless of whether you're navigating city streets or strolling on a sandy beach, Birkenstocks are there every step of the way.

This month marks a new chapter in the Birkenstock journey, as it opens the doors to its first workshop as part of its brand new series ‘Walk With Me’, which settles in the brand’s new long-term pop-up space in Shoreditch. More than just a retail outlet, the venue is a visual embodiment of the brand's ethos and iconography, with cork accents paying homage to design features and concrete walls echoing the sturdy foundation of its iconic shoes.

For its first instalment, the brand has teamed up with British footwear designer Helen Kirkum. A graduate of London's esteemed Royal College of Art, Helen founded her eponymous studio in 2019, cultivating a team of talented footwear designers, and working on previous collaborations with brands such as Adidas and Camper. Known for her use of recycled and deadstock materials, Helen challenges us to rethink the meaning of consumption and the way we interact with the products we own.

In her workshop series titled Deconstruct: Shoes and Society, Helen invites participants to reimagine used Birkenstock shoes, transforming their straps into personalised keychains. Participants can choose from a selection of Birkenstock styles to stamp with their own touches, like coloured thread and initial details.

In the space, you can experience the brand's rich heritage and craftsmanship firsthand as you explore the studio decked with vintage Birkenstock posters and patterns. Immerse yourself in an inviting atmosphere that reflects the brand’s core values of comfort and warmth, echoing Helen's vision of creating a space where visitors feel at home among friends.

Helen is hosting the workshop throughout March. The months ahead promise a range of creative opportunities to learn more about Birkenstock and its wider involvement within other creative realms.

By Faye Carlon

Sign up for Helen’s next workshop here...

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