Strange Bedfellows: On the heels of its most recent collaboration with Rick Owens as well as this year’s assorted Birkenstock Box cooperations with retailers the world over, the footwear maker has tapped a somewhat unlikely royal partner for the latest take on the brand’s iconic Arizona and Gizeh cork footbed sandals: KPM Berlin.
Founded in 1763 and thus 11 years older than Birkenstock, the highly respected Königliche Porzellan-Manufaktur provided its Kurland Royal Noir pattern as well as a signature porcelain inset for the limited-edition Birkenstock x KPM. There are four models in all, the Arizona and Gizeh in black-on-black embossed leather, and both models in a black and gold Royal Noir print. Limited to 300 pieces per style, the sandals are available exclusively at Berlin’s leading premium department store KaDeWe through June 9, as well as online at birkenstock.com for 280 euros a pop. For those who’d like to wear their Birkenstocks and have a matching cup of coffee, too, a large-sized KPM Kurland Royal Noir cup and saucer will set one back 1,190 euros.
The special edition was feted Thursday night with a cocktail reception at the third-floor Birkenstock X KPM pop-up shop at KaDeWe, which featured the Birkenstock sandals, items from the Kurland Royal Noir porcelain collection, and a KPM artisan painstakingly painting the neoclassical pattern on a selected porcelain piece. There were also designer looks from the KaDeWe fashion assortment, such as a long white cotton Jil Sander dress, pulled by Vogue Germany’s multitasking editor in chief Christiane Arp, who said she wanted to underscore that Birkenstocks can be worn with more than casual attire.
KPM then selected guests to attend a dinner at the KPM Manufactory nearby, turning one of the main workrooms into a private dining room surrounded by porcelain in all its stages of production. Though originally conceived as a one-off project, Birkenstock’s chief marketing officer Yvonne Piu is not ruling out a second chapter of the cork footbed meets porcelain story. Before the pop-up shops on KaDeWe’s main and third floors had been completely set up, 15 pairs of the sandals had been sold, and the department store’s phone kept ringing with customers calling to reserve a pair, an employee said. KPM managing director Bernd Lietke’s footwear may have been a sign of what could come next, his feet shod in black leather closed Birkenstock shoes embellished with the Kurland pattern in gold and white.