Out of all the things former Apple CEO Steve Jobs was known for, his attire was unquestionably one of them. His 'uniform', which comprised a black turtleneck, jeans, and dad sneakers, is surely well-known today, but his constant companion in the early 1970s when he was building Apple, was a pair of Birkenstock sandals.
Last week, Julien's Auctions house sold a pair of these worn-out sandals for $218,750 (approximately Rs 1.77 crore). With this bid, it became the highest sum ever paid in an auction for a pair of sandals.
Iconic sandals: According to the auction house, the brown suede Birkenstock Arizonas was worn by Jobs during "many pivotal moments in Apple's history" in the 1970s and 1980s, NPR reports.
The shoes were initially valued at about $60,000, which is still a hefty amount considering that a new pair sells for $125 (Rs 10,000)!
Birkenstock sandals are notoriously regarded as 'ugly', but people are nonetheless willing to pay a high price for them. And by 'people', we mean influencers, wanna-be 'it girls', celebrities, and wealthy cool dudes.
German 'engineering': Birkenstock is a German brand of sandals and other shoes known for their contoured cork footbeds (soles) made of suede and jute layers that are engineered to fit the shape of the wearer's feet.
Your average Birkenstocks come with two types of footbeds, which you can choose based on your needs and the money you want to spend: the original hard footbed, and the soft footbed. The soft footbed provides additional comfort with a cushiony pillowy feeling for your feet, while burning a slightly deeper hole in your pocket.
A 250-year-old legacy: The Birkenstock brand can be traced back to Johann Adam Birkenstock, who was documented as a "vassal and shoemaker" in local church documents in the small Hessian village of Langen-Bergheim, Germany, in 1774.
Soon, they started training and educating people about the importance of wearing comfortable footwear.
Birkenstocks have now become the new Ugg boots, given that all Hollywood celebs are wearing them. However, the prices are still a little steep for you or me.
Birkenstock, unlike your other shoe brands, does not offer discounts, regardless of where you go (not even at stores in Germany, where they are made).
With just only 36 stores in the world, how did Birkenstock get so popular? Birkenstock is a well-known brand, but the high price you pay for these sandals is not solely due to their fame or comfort, which is the case with other luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton or Dior. What lies beneath the high pricing is a little more nuanced than meets the eye: