The Blahniks' Birkenstocks

LONDON — They’re a family synonymous with elegant, slim line footwear and the most delicate of heels, but now the Blahniks are revealing a whole other side to themselves and appearing in the latest ads for Birkenstock.

WWD has learned that Manolo Blahnik and his niece Kristina Blahnik, chief executive officer of the family footwear company, are the latest faces of the German brand’s Personality Campaign.

The series, which focuses on genuine Birkenstock wearers, has featured personalities ranging from the Nobel Prize winner and Stanford professor Thomas Südhof to the artist photographer Ryan McGinley and Grace Coddington.

The most recent campaign featured the Korean actor Yoo Ah-In, and the Chinese artist Zhou Li in their studios.

All of the campaign images have been shot by Jack Davison, who captures his subjects in an environment of their choosing. There is no styling, and subjects are asked to wear their own Birkenstocks, no matter how old or battered, with clothes from their wardrobes.

Manolo and Kristina Blahnik in the latest campaign for Birkenstock.  Photo Courtesy Jack Davison

The spring 2020 campaign, which will appear in the March issues of international print titles, hits particularly close to home, with Birkenstock choosing to spotlight a fellow shoemaker.

Shot in Manolo Blahnik’s first store on Old Church Street in London, the photo shows the designer wearing his Black Bostons with a red suit from the London tailor Anderson & Sheppard. Kristina Blahnik, who’s wearing a white, belted shirtdress, shows off her Birkenstock Gizehs, which she bought in 2004.

“In my youth when I traveled often, Birkenstocks were my holiday shoe of choice,” Manolo said. “I vividly remember one particular trip to Sicily where I explored for hours and walked for miles wearing my Birkenstocks. They are intelligently designed and wonderfully comfortable, with a classical continuity.”

Nowadays, he added, “I wear Birkenstocks when tending to my beloved garden in Bath [England]. Pairing them with colorful Paul Smith socks is a must! I respect that as a brand they have never conformed to trends and have an ethos of creating designs built to last.”

Kristina added that she’s been wearing hers forever, and they are a wardrobe staple. “From a style perspective, I like the simplicity of their designs with a guarantee of comfort in each and every sandal. From a brand standpoint, Birkenstock upholds many of the values that we adhere to at Manolo Blahnik, a tradition-rich, family run business that believes in the creativity of artist and the craftsmanship of the artisan.”

Faye Toogood in her white Tokio Super Grip Birkenstocks.  Image Courtesy of Jack Davison

Oliver Reichert, ceo of Birkenstock, said he chose Manolo because “we truly respect the genuine and rare know-how a real shoe maker like Manolo Blahnik brings to us. Someone who, like us knows the craft and continues to redefine shoe making. Taking it to a whole new level.”

He added that the Blahniks are a family business and that “brings them even closer to us.”

The campaign also features the British artist and designer Faye Toogood, founder and ceo of Toogood. She’s been photographed in her London studio, wearing her white Tokio Super Grip Birkenstocks. “I love the immediate sensation of feeling comfortable and relaxed as soon as I slip them on,” Toogood said.