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HAPPY FEET: It was the perfect day to be wearing Birkenstocks. With Paris in gridlock thanks to the conjoined influence of its 2024 bid to host the Summer Olympic Games and the Gay Pride parade, the fashion set spent much of their day on foot.

“I don’t know if we’re part of fashion, but we’re part of the fashion industry,” chief executive officer Oliver Reichert  said. “So here we are in Paris, having some drinks and having a nice time.”

The comfortable footwear brand invited one and all to step away from the hectic pace in a temporary Orangerie set-up in the Tuileries Garden, complete with soothing pebbled rivers, grassy stretches, the newly launched natural cosmetics and the comfortable beds it also produces, and, of course, the full footwear range Birkenstock has to offer.

On display was an array of styles, from the Red Dot Design Award-winning extruded EVA to the classic two-buckle designs to more unexpected ones, such as a knee-high hiking boot.

Top of the class were models that fused past and future with tech-looking materials dressing the traditional cork foot bed; colored outsoles, metallic leather uppers and new buckle shapes, and studded styles, particularly tricky to execute as the metal needed to be impervious to the elements as well as not be felt on the foot. One variation of this saw minute metal rounds shot into the 3-mm thick leather used by Birkenstock, resulting in a constellation of shiny dots.

“In the future, there will be tons of tech-driven materials,” said Reichert. “You could even grow leather from your own DNA. For people with contact allergies, that could be essential. I don’t know if it’s tomorrow, next week or in 10 years, but I promise you, we’re ready. If the materials are good.”

What of the clothes?

Move over see-now-buy-now, this collection was created to highlight the designs that could be complemented with the right footwear — Birkenstocks, naturally. With 115 styles in rotation on the feet of the 40 models who took their places in the Orangerie, there was little left to the imagination in terms of permutations. But frustrations remained.

“The online guys are going ‘yeah, give us the jumpsuits, we sell them online’,” he chuckled.

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