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Brand: Birkenstock

Model: Honnef

Season: Fall/Winter 2021

Buy: Birkenstock’s website and stores

Release Date: November

Editor’s Notes: When it comes to sandals, Birkenstock is the heavyweight champ. I mean, there’s a reason that every luxury brand ever has been desperate to produce its own Arizona, if they can’t get an official collab.

When it comes to sneakers, though, Birkenstock has lagged behind the pack.

To Birkenstock’s credit, all of its footwear designs are function over fashion, but its very basic sneaker designs are just too basic to be interesting, while the sandals have ugly-cool crossover appeal — I say that as a big Birk fan with plenty of worn-in pairs.

Enter the Honnef, Birkenstock’s new stab at a fashion-forward sneaker.

The Honnef is still a little faceless but it’s is a big step (ha!) in the right direction for Birkenstock’s sneaker selection: subtle branding, appealing textural interplay, and versatile colorways make for a shoe that’s wearable without being weird.

Go under the hood, though, and you’ll find Birkenstock’s new Deep Blue footbed, a four-part design that incorporates its signature cork, moisture-wicking microfiber, jute, and a polyurethane base for cushioning.

It’s a deliciously lo-fi response to the high-spec tech that empowers the soles of so many sportswear giants’ cutting edge kicks, one that ensures that the Honnef is a spiritual partner to Birkenstock’s trademark sandal offering.

Simultaneously, the Honnef may be a worthy answer to Allbirds’ eco-conscious, famously cozy shoes.

Allbirds, currently estimated to be worth about $2 billion, has cornered the market for folks seeking shoes that are light on both their feet and the planet.

Birkenstock, now backed by LVMH, is poised to dig into this niche with the Honnef as its weapon of choice. Sure, the Honnef’s leather upper makes it more luxe (and costlier) than an Allbirds shoe so this isn’t necessarily a direct challenge, just a canny push on Birk’s part.

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