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OUR AUTHORS

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Alice Janssens



Alice Janssens

Alice Janssens is a freelance business historian, fashion economist and project manager working between academia and industry. She is an associate lecturer at The British School of Fashion at Glasgow Caledonian University (UK) and a PhD candidate at Erasmus University Rotterdam (The Netherlands) undertaking research on the Berlin fashion industry during the 1920’s and 1930’s.

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Taylor Brydges



Taylor Brydges

Taylor Brydges is a Research Principal at the Institute for Sustainable Futures, University of Technology Sydney. Her focus is on sustainability and the transition to a circular economy in the fashion industry. Dr Brydges earned an Honours BA in Urban Studies, an MA in Human Geography from the University of Toronto and a PhD in Human Geography from Uppsala University, Sweden.

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Alexander von den Benken



Alexander von den Benken

Alexander von den Benken is a research assistant at the Institute for Historical Studies at the Rhenish Friedrich Wilhelm University in Bonn. His research and teaching focuses on consumer, mobility and business history. He is currently doing his doctorate on a family business in the automotive industry of the 1970s.

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Christian Kleinschmidt



Christian Kleinschmidt

Christian Kleinschmidt heads the Institute for Economic and Social History at Philipps University of Marburg since 2009. He has numerous publications to his name, including Konsum im 19. und 20. Jahrhundert (2021), Wirtschaftsgeschichte der Neuzeit: die Weltwirtschaft 1500-1850 (2017).

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Andrea Schneider-Braunberger



Andrea Schneider-Braunberger

Andrea Schneider-Braunberger received her doctorate from the Goethe University Frankfurt in 1996 and has been managing director of the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte since then. She was President of the European Business History Assocation (EBHA), is a member of the Board of Governors of the Long Run Initiative (LRI) and is on the boards of various journals. Her research focuses on family businesses and banks in the first half of the 20th century. Her most recent publication is Metzler im Nationalsozialismus (2022).

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Jörg Lesczenski



Jörg Lesczenski

Jörg Lesczenski studied history and sociology at the Ruhr University in Bochum and is a research assistant at the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte mbH. Numerous publications on economic history, including 100 percent Messer. The Return of the Family Business (2019) and Unternehmen Sport. Die Geschichte von adidas (2018).

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Roman Köster



Roman Köster

Roman Köster is a Researcher at the Bavarian Academy of Science in Munich. His main research areas are the history of economic crises and the history of waste management. Furthermore, he has a long experience in business history and authored books on Hugo Boss (2011) and Seidensticker (2019). He has recently published a book on the global history of waste.

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Mary A. Yeager



Mary A. Yeager

Mary A. Yeager is a Professor Emerita of Business and Economic History at University of California, Los Angeles. She is well known for her numerous publications on gender and feminism in the field of business history, which include the three volume edited collection Women in Business (1999).

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Liz Tregenza



Liz Tregenza

Liz Tregenza is a fashion and business historian. She works as a lecturer at London College of Fashion and also runs her own vintage business. She has previously worked as a curator and researcher for various museums including the Victoria and Albert Museum. Liz was awarded her PhD on the fashion designer Frederick Starke in 2018. She is the author of Wholesale Couture: London and Beyond, 1930-1970 (2023) and editor of Everyday Fashion: Interpreting British Clothing Since 1600 (2023).

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Kai Balazs-Bartesch



Kai Balazs-Bartesch

Kai Balazs-Bartesch studied History, Political Science and American Studies at the Goethe University Frankfurt until 2019 with a focus on 19th century history. During his studies, he worked as a student assistant on the project "The Hanseatic League and its Law" and in general administration. Since the end of 2019, he has been a research assistant and archive team leader at the Gesellschaft für Unternehmensgeschichte.

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Johanna Steinfeld



Johanna Steinfeld

Johanna Steinfeld researched and taught on issues of economic and business history at the Goethe University in Frankfurt and at the University of Konstanz. She wrote her dissertation on the corporate organisation of the foundation company Optische Werkstätte Zeiss Jena.

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Emily Brayshaw



Emily Brayshaw

Emily Brayshaw is an Honorary Research Fellow in the Faculty of Design, Architecture and Building at the University of Technology Sydney who focuses on costume, fashion, and design history. Emily also works as a costume designer, speaks as fashion expert on Australian radio, and is a member of the Footwear Research Network.

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Emanuela Scarpellini



Emanuela Scarpellini

Emanuela Scarpellini is full professor of Modern history at the University of Milan. She has been a visiting professor at both Stanford and Georgetown universities and is the founder and director of the research center MIC on Fashion Image and Consumer Culture. Among her publications is Italian Fashion since 1945: A Cultural History (2019).

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Hayley Edwards-Dujardin



Hayley Edwards-Dujardin

Hayley Edwards-Dujardin is a freelance art and fashion historian and curator. She received her MA in Art History from L’École du Louvre, Paris, and her MA in Fashion Curation, from the London College of Fashion. She teaches Fashion History, Visual Culture and Fashion Sociology in Paris. Her research interests and publications cover the decolonization of fashion theory; the relationship between art and fashion; modern and contemporary fashion theory; fashion and the self; decorative arts; and fashion photography. 

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Pierre-Yves Donzé



Pierre-Yves Donzé

Pierre-Yves Donzé is a professor of business history at Osaka University, Japan, and a visiting professor at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and at EM Normandie Business School, France. His research focuses mainly on the dynamics of global competition in creative industries (fashion, luxury and watches).

 

A 250-year tradition as a shoemaker – a research project

BIRKENSTOCK is a global brand—i.e., a brand with universal relevance—serving an essential human need: walking as intended by nature (naturgewolltes Gehen). This also means that BIRKENSTOCK is what we might call a “purpose brand,” a brand that makes a contribution to society beyond the corporate sphere. For two and a half centuries, the family has dedicated itself to foot health and has thus made brand history. In recent decades, the public perception of the Original Birkenstock Footbed Sandals has changed dramatically. These sandals have been a coveted item for health fanatics, a subcultural style item, a symbol of an anti-mainstream mentality, and, most recently, a “category killer”—owning an entire product category. Today a universal global audience gravitates around the values of this brand—uniting generations of wearers and people from all walks of life.

 

Although it was not until the 1970s that the brand began to attract international attention, the German history of BIRKENSTOCK’s shoemaking tradition is much older, dating back to 1774. For the first time, this remarkable company history has been comprehensively documented in a corporate history book. Beginning with the establishment of a shoemaking dynasty and telling the story through to modern times, it’s a tale of groundbreaking innovations and one family’s dedication to foot health. The title documents the work of key family members, such as Konrad and Carl Birkenstock, whose efforts permanently changed society’s understanding of footwear. It also explains the story behind the iconic Madrid model, brought to market by Karl Birkenstock in 1963, which was the company’s first step toward becoming a global brand—the shoe strikes a balance between health and fashion, allowing its wearers to walk as nature intended.

 

Crafted by 15 leading international historians and based on a research and writing process that was over seven years in the making, this book chronicles the family, brand, and corporate history of BIRKENSTOCK. It also examines the unusual combination of foot health and entrepreneurial passion from a wide variety of perspectives. The scientific research corrects a brand image that was previously characterized by clichés and gives the brand history, which was predominantly based on oral accounts, a solid foundation, while placing it in a broader historical and industrial context.

 

BIRKENSTOCK: The Evolution of a Universal Purpose and Zeitgeist Brand

Dr. Andrea Schneider-Braunberger (Ed.)

Published by: Prestel

Hardcover, linen, 464 pages, 15,0 x 22,7 cm, 5.9 x 8.9 in, 70 b/w illustrations

ISBN: 978-3-7913-9332-2

Published: US June: 11, 2024 | UK: April 11, 2024

 

You can find a reading sample with a detailed table of contents here.