Birkenstock Launches The Education Project With Central Saint Martins Fashion History & Theory Courses

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The long-term project features collections by MA graduates and styles inspired by the Archive!

Birkenstock, the global heritage brand, manifests its commitment to education with a partnership encompassing research and design. In 2018 Birkenstock commissioned the CSM BA Fashion History & Theory course to research and enrich its prolific archive. Graduates were given access to the archive of the brand in the US, Italy, Japan, and lastly to Birkenstock Headquarters in Germany. Each research trip enabled students to immerse into Birkenstock’s culture and legacy to finally extract and define the core elements of Birkenstock’s history spanning over 250 years.

The result of this research translated into a second project with the MA Fashion course. Inviting students to give their interpretation of emblematic styles in their contemporary way, thus shaping the future of the iconic German brand. One year later a jury of 12 renowned industry leaders led by Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert, MA Fashion Course Director Fabio Piras, and fashion critic Sarah Mower MBE, was invited by Birkenstock to review all student portfolios and selected a shortlist of 10 finalists awarded as the winning designs with a first bursary award.

“Investing in and connecting with future talents is working with free spirits. A priority for forward-thinking brands, especially a democratic brand that embraces all like Birkenstock. The students showed a genuine understanding of design and delivered a convincing end result.” Oliver Reichert, CEO, Birkenstock.

“Working with Birkenstock has been an incredibly gratifying experience for all our students involved in this collaborative project. Four were selected as the winning team and now see their design ideas taken into production and communicated across the brand’s global retail network. As a course director, I want my students to think that their being creative is what gives them commercial potential. I am very grateful to Birkenstock for their exceptional commitment to supporting fashion education in practice with this rewarding opportunity.” Fabio Piras, Course Director, MA Fashion.

“This is a unique student project combining historical enquiry with innovative design. It has been our great pleasure to collaborate with Birkenstock, as we value its commitment to responsibility, quality, and integrity.” Professor Alistair O’Neill, BA Fashion History & Theory. Over a year of product development, four of the student designs have qualified for serial production. Each design has the student’s name embossed in the iconic Birkenstock footbed.

The collection will be supported by a campaign, by Walter Pfeiffer in Paris. This iconic photographer is set to capture the students with their design and chosen looks of their graduation collection. As a result of the Archive research and to complement the student designs, the iconic Birkenstock Tallahassee Style from the 1990s sees a rebirth in contrast color designs as the first Archive Re-Issue style.

Alex Wolfe

Born in South-East London, Alex Wolfe explores and questions concepts of ‘Britishness’ and ‘masculine identity, with an often playful and subversive approach, striking a balance between functional design and conceptual expression. Alex features on Vogue.com ‘Editors on Their Favourite Moments From the Fall 2020 Shows’.

Inspiration for Birkenstock Design

The Moto Sandal is a turbulent twist on Birkenstock’s orthopedic history. Colliding the idea of a supportive shin brace with protective motocross gear.

Alecsander Rothschild

Alecsander Rothschild is a Danish fashion designer. Before starting the MA FASHION at CSM, Alecsander worked for Mugler in Paris. In 2017, Alecsander was chosen for Italian Vogue’s New Talent issue.

Inspiration for Birkenstock Design

The inspiration behind the Sandals comes from my background having grown up in a family of artists (painters, sculptors, and designers). I decided to honor that background by looking into the world of Sculptures, specifically Brancusi. What I found interesting in Brancusi is his shapes of course but mostly the contrasts in the materials and textures.

Saskia Lenaerts

Saskia Lenaerts is a transnational designer. Her work aims to disarm prejudice. It pushes for a more unified and borderless world, founded on celebrating both our cultural differences and commonalities. She holds a Master’s degree in fashion menswear from Central Saint Martins, Winner of The Considered Design award sponsored by Johnstons of Elgin and L’Oreal Professionnel scholarship.

Inspiration for Birkenstock Design

Saskia Lenaerts’s Birkenstock sandal celebrates the heritage and comfort of the iconic Birkenstock latex and cork footbed. The natural shape and function of a footprint are recreated as a cushioned upper. It reveals the effortless beauty of the space left behind from a footprint in the sand.

Dingyun Zhang

Chinese fashion menswear designer and footwear designer, Graduate from Central Saint Martins BA Fashion 2018, and MA Fashion in 2020.

Inspiration for Birkenstock Design

A theoretical bond of sustainable ideas on long term comfort, materials, and functionality.

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