Hating Birks brings people together like sad news and Breaking Bad.
I’ve always thought the idea of “Man Repelling” fashion items was interesting; the simple name is so fraught with gender divide issues it’s hard to unpack. If you’re not familiar with the term (and the excellent blog), Man Repellers are fashion items loved by women and loathed by men. They usually involve a lot of angles, non-practical clothing additions, and short haircuts. It’s a phrase that’s brought up a lot when people say things like, “I dress for women,” and wear complicated t-shirts.
I take issue with this idea for a few reasons: firstly you shouldn’t dress for anyone other than yourself, or if you’re like me—to not be naked. It’s also saying that men don’t like or understand clothes that women determine to be cerebral; that for fashion to be really, truly good, it needs to be devoid of sex. This links back to point A, when you get dressed you should ask yourself what you think and how you feel about your appearance. Don’t worry about what dudes, or chicks, or people who use the word cerebral have to say—fuck it, by that line don’t listen to me either.
But I’m getting off topic, I didn’t mean to unpack the nuances of the Man Repeller trend; I just wanted to talk about it’s current poster girl/boy/it—the infamous Birkenstock sandal.
It honestly baffles me why these aren’t cool. They tend to flirt with fashion every few years; they’re on the cusp of a resurrection at the moment—conveniently timed with overalls—but have yet to break through. Despite being indescribably rocked by the idolized 90s era teen Moss, they just can’t break through the dorky-shoe glass ceiling. It seems unfair that even clogs have somehow become an Australian fashion staple but Birks, clogs’ breezy girl-next-door buddy, haven’t yet made the cut.
I introduced my favorite underdogs under the guise of Man Reppellers because they hold the impressive title of being a great fashion gender equalizer; everyone hates them. They bring people together like sad news and Breaking Bad.
The few of us that love them aren’t separated by gender, race, class, or country; our distinction seems to be as subtle but telling as the colour-blind gene. Walking down the road you can’t tell who will love them (here I’ll point out I’m talking about the non-dreadlocked fan base), and sometimes their supporters will surprise you.
I love them but I also used to be a vegan and own the aforementioned clogs. My first pair of Birks was actually in high school, they were my best friends cast offs and I was as moved by them then as I am now. But it’s also worth mentioning that I also rocked a very un-PAM bucket hat and Heston Blumenthal glasses. My dork pedigree means my love isn’t a surprise.
But my friends who share my secret passion are almost exclusively from the uber-cool crust. They’re the girls who wear track-pants with $800 jackets and looks like a tall glass of water. Once again my beloved Birks have brought together a disparate group of people—the beautiful, and the low arched.
So here is my decree: I will never convince you that they’re good if you don’t already believe me. I will never convince you they look great with both sock and cropped summer jeans. But I don’t care. Because fashion is about what you like and what makes you feel good. And I like Birkenstocks. I also like pedicures after seeing my feet in them.