STEPPING OVER THE LINE

These $800 Birkenstocks have taken the ugly luxury-shoe trend too far

Obsession
Fashion
Obsession
Fashion

Fashion of late has developed a penchant for clothing and accessories that make it challenging for a person to look conventionally attractive—dad hats, shapeless dresses, and unflattering pants among them.

We say fine, mostly. Yet there is also such a thing as going too far.

First, let’s examine the fascinating subtext to the coded language of this (let’s just say it) ugly clothing that’s also known as normcore. What appears to look just kind of dumb to the lay person conveys a winking insider knowledge to the fashion maven. Someone has to be able to draw up the courage to go out in something that so plainly refuses to flatter the wearer. In other words, take the risk required to look cool.

Nowhere is the passion for ugly more evident than on a fashionable person’s feet, where recent seasons have seen a proliferation of clunky clogs, running shoes, and, of course, Birkenstocks.

Birkenstocks—specifically the two-strap Arizona style—have been riding this wave for several seasons now. For many of us, the sandals tap into a powerful sense of nostalgia. And the truth is, they’re really comfortable.

Understandably and wisely, the company has played to its fashionable audience, with mostly winning results. The Arizona now appears in rose gold, patent leather (I bought some), iridescent snake-effect, and all-leather, monochrome black and white. Birkenstocks remain an enduring favorite of fashion editors. Some of these sandals, such as a $270 all-black, matte-finish version with leather footbeds, are understandably more expensive than the average Arizona. They are even kind of desirable.

Birkenstock’s most expensive Arizona is no danger of falling in that category. At $799, these “strictly limited-edition” nautically themed sandals, which look like something a retiree might wear to pad around a marina, push the limits of price and taste too far.

Should you disagree, the most expensive Birkenstock your money can buy comes in “the finest imbued and oiled natural leather in navy blue,” and boast sterling-silver buckles in the forms of knots and anchors (your choice!) by the German jewelry designer Patrik Muff. And for $799, they could be yours.

Go ahead, we dare you.

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