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Birkenstock Steps Into Skin Care

The iconic German footwear brand has created a natural cosmetic line based around the lifting effect of cork oak extract.

From footwear…to face care. Birkenstock is entering the skin-care business with a new line of sustainably minded, certified natural cosmetics.

The idea behind the 28-piece Birkenstock Natural Care line is one close to the company’s soul, or more accurately, its sole. Best known for its chunky cork footbed sandals, the company has been working with the natural material cork oak for more than 240 years, Birkenstock chief executive officer Oliver Reichert explained.

“While we were doing our research regarding a healthy product concept in the skin-care segment, we realized that scientists in the cosmetics industry had discovered the highly effective antiaging effect of suberin, a remarkable substance which is contained in cork oak extract,” Reichert told WWD.

“That’s how the whole project started. We then took our time in terms of developing the whole natural cosmetics range, with product quality coming first at all times with a team of experienced experts.”

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The Birkenstock Group created a special cosmetics division, Birkenstock Cosmetics, to develop and produce the products, which are all made in Germany.

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In addition to suberin, which is said to have a lifting effect, other active ingredients in Birkenstock Natural Care products — which run from lip balm to shower gel to antiaging night cream — include arctic moss, argan oil, baobab, moringa, elderberry and botanical hyaluronic acid.

Products are divided into five treatment directions. Naturally Fresh Cleanse offers body, skin and hair cleansers, as well as an enzymatic peel. Naturally Ageless Repair moisturizes faces, hands and bodies. Naturally Pure Prevent is hyaluron-infused face, lip and body care.

Three products are aimed at men (Natural Man Refresh), a sector in which, said the company, there is increasing international demand for natural cosmetics. Fittingly, a three-stockkeeping unit foot-care range rounds out the line.

Thirteen items in the assortment feature refill systems, and all have cork integrated into the packaging. The products are free of synthetics, parabens, paraffin, and silicone, and are certified by BDIH Cosmos Natural.

Birkenstock Natural Care products will retail for 16 to 60 euros ($17 to $74 at current exchange), positioned in the prestige segment. The line is expected to come to market this fall, with the sales focus on the USA and Asia. Distribution strategies are still being finalized, the company said; the products will also be sold at Birkenstock retail and online stores.

“We want to see our products in an environment where there is a high cosmetic competence expressed by a knowledgeable cosmetics sales staff in store,”  said Reichert.

It’s early days yet, but the outlook is optimistic; the company aims to exceed the 100 million euros ($106 million at current exchange) sales mark by the end of 2020, three years after the natural care line’s launch.

Birkenstock Natural Care was previewed in February at the Vivaness natural and organic care products trade fair in Nuremberg, Germany. Birkenstock will be exhibiting at Cosmoprof’s new initiative Cosmoprime in Bologna this month, and plans to attend Beautyworld Tokyo in May. The incursion into skin care is just one of the brand’s initiatives for 2017, which also include a marketing revamp and retail innovations.