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Birkenstock collaborates with Central Saint Martins

Heritage footwear brand Birkenstock has been working with Central Saint
Martins on a long-term educational project, which has seen students from
the MA Fashion and BA Fashion History and Theory courses collaborating with
the brand on a research and design lead partnership.

The result of this project, spanning two years since conception, has
seen 10 shortlisted students awarded a bursary award and four finalists
were chosen to produce a serial collection, as well as allowing students
from both courses access to Birkenstock’s archives in the US, Italy, Japan
and at its headquarters in Germany.

The move is part of Birkenstock’s commitment to education, encompassing
research and design, and follows the brand commissioning CSM BA Fashion
History and Theory course to research and enrich its vast archive.

“Investing in and connecting with future talents is working with free
spirits,” said Oliver Reichert, chief executive at Birkenstock in a
statement. “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.”

Each research trip enabled students to immerse into Birkenstock’s
culture and legacy to extract and define the core elements of Birkenstock’s
history spanning over 250 years. The result of this research has been
translated into a second project with the MA Fashion History course,
inviting students to give their interpretation of emblematic styles in
their contemporary way to create styles inspired by the Birkenstock
archive.

Birkenstock to launch archive re-issue collection designed by Central
Saint Martins students

This research project will see the brand’s first Archive Re-Issue
collection featuring the iconic Birkenstock Tallassee from the 1990s, which
has been given a contrast colour makeover, alongside the four winning
graduate designs, as chosen by a judging panel led by Reichert, MA Fashion
course director Fabio Piras and fashion critic Sarah Mower, who reviewed
all the student portfolios.

The winning designs, which will now go into production, are by Alex Wolfe,
Alecsander Rothschild, Saskia Lenaerts and Dingyun Zhang, who have all
adding their own aesthetic to the Birkenstock, and will see their name
embossed in the Birkenstock footbed.

British designer Alex Wolfe explores and questions concepts of
‘Britishness’ and ‘masculine’ identity, while striking a balance between
functional design and conceptual expression and took inspiration for the
Moto Sandal from the idea of colliding a supportive shin brace with
protective motocross gear.

While Danish fashion designer Alecsander Rothschild, who worked for
Mugler in Paris before starting the MA Fashion course, and won the
Designer’s Nest competition and was chosen for Italian Vogue’s New Talent
issue took inspiration for his Birkenstock design from his background
growing up in a family of artists inspired by the world of sculptures,
specifically Brancusi.

Saskia Lenaerts, who holds a Master’s degree in fashion menswear from
Central Saint Martins, and was winner of The Considered Design award and
L’Oreal Professionnel scholarship celebrates the heritage and comfort of
the iconic Birkenstock latex and cork footbed in her design, and Chinese
menswear and footwear designer Dingyun Zhang, a graduate from Central Saint
Martins BA Fashion in 2018, and MA Fashion in 2020, took inspiration from
the theoretical bond of sustainable ideas on long term comfort, materials,
and functionality for his black and white Birkenstocks.

Fabio Piras, course director, MA Fashion, added: “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.

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“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 in supporting fashion
education in practice with this rewarding opportunity.”

The Archive Re-Issue collection featuring the Tallahassee Style and the
limited-edition student capsule collection will be available with select
stores worldwide and on Birkenstock’s 1774.com website from February 2021.

Images: courtesy of Birkenstock; main image – Saskia Lenaerts and
Alecsander Rothschild

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