27 August 2013 interview Rudy J. Haines, since spring 2013 head of design & product of Birkenstock, sets new accents. The model classics of the traditional shoe manufacturer cooperation joined in September 2013 with fashion designers Yohji Yamamoto and jewelry designer Patrik muffin with a special edition of 2999 euros. VOGUE was on a visit to the headquarters of the company Castle O’Sullivan
VOGUE: What is now so legendary a Birkenstock?
Rudy J. Haines: the special feature is the simplicity of the product. You can see what’s about a foot bed and a shaft. This simplicity is our unique selling proposition, and on this point, it’s also polarizing. Our Sandals unique is that some people love it, some hate it. If you ask “do you think that the shoe is a good product for your body?”, then those who do not like him, will reply with a clear yes.
How important is the label “Made in Germany”? The shoe is all the same world differently perceived and purchased.
The seal is extremely important. Less perhaps for the domestic market than international, here in particular for Asia, Japan. Thus, international buyers expect a certain quality. Birkenstock is a German brand, a German company and we produce here locally hand-crafted. At the time of purchase, there are then country-specific preferences: Germans like to wear the model “Florida”, a three Riemer, in Italy, France is “Giza”-Dianette is popular in fashionable colors. In the USA the double-breasted, with heel strap, as well as the “Arizona” and Asia all is what stained.There are also special models made of exotic materials or plastics.
On the international catwalks of the 2013 spring/summer collection, there was a tendency to comfort sandals. Shoes not few in Birkenstock remembered by Céline and Giambattista Valli.What do you think about the designs?
I thought, look down, how beautiful. They remind of Birkenstock, this is but a statement for bringing This silhouette with any other name on the market. It also shows an interpretation of the brand. I have no abdominal pain since.
Where from the new interest and blossoming of the brand?
I think it’s the return of the consumer on simple, original things. We speak not only from the top of the consumer pyramid, is driving around at the shows in New York and Paris, but also by our average consumers. You react differently. Some want a comfortable, always portable product. And for them, I’m doing 90 percent of my collection and it’s not boring, but a challenge. And of course, the new awareness of sustainability plays a role. Our products are sustainable. And you can work on your shoes from us again.
What consequences you draw from this? You seek your own collaborations with designers?
For me, it’s a topic to implement cooperation agreements with partners that have a meaningful global. To cooperate and if need be, then only for a small Edition of shoes with these. Such as with Yohji Yamamoto, one of my design heroes, which is always remained true to his concept, something that fits our brand, too.
How can one imagine your project with Designer Yamamoto?
Yamamoto had invited us to one of his shows in Paris and we agreed to follow up for the following day. We have brought pattern and suggestions black and white, the other team, bi-colour, also, and we have put it together. Female models are the result for his “Y’s” spring/summer collection 2014, very Japanese. Geisha, thinking that’s the direction we take in the. The packaging remains Birkenstock and the models will be available in its stores.
There are more designer with whom you already cooperate? You are barely four months in the company.
(laughs) Yes, with the Munich-based jewelry designer Patrik muffin. Here was the idea to make a statement in the premium segment. He is a gifted jeweler and silversmith, who is not mainstream and manufactures sustainable designs for me. The shoe is made of leather in Croc, as well as with silver clasps at the Lords or gold at the women and will cost between 999 and 2999 euro. Worldwide are ten times to have his and presented in September 2013 at the boot show in Düsseldorf, Germany.
Who should such exclusive models use? Celebrities? Also they like to attract Birkenstock.
Why not, I love it. One of my previous employer had a so-called Hollywood Office, which has supplied products to stars. Before I signed for Birkenstock, my current boss me to usher in Birkenstock was a thick folder with pictures of Brad Pitt with Angelina Jolie. All paparazzi pictures. My reaction was: “You must a huge Hollywood Office have!” No, there isn’t. You bought the shoes themselves. I’m happy, and I see not the need to change anything here. The stars are convinced of the product.
So continue to convince your products. From which you draw your ideas – from the archive or the own mood Board?
It is a combination of the two variants. I look in the archives, which include a rich and exciting history, and visit material measurement. We go directly to tanneries. I am working on a design that is gebatikt and waxed in the worn look, – even if it is only for a small customer base. The idea is developed by one of our Board members, who enthusiastically worked on the bike in the garage and had an oil stain on his Birkenstock. He said that could artificially it not. Vintage – used-look is a trend that comes and goes, but is but apt with view on the age of the brand.
What mean these looks for your choice of materials?
A challenge. I want to leave the comfort and orthopedic customers and gain at the same time fashion-oriented. Characteristic is the Cork-LaTeX mixture into the sole, to natural materials such as hemp, jute, silk, leather, linen and elastic bands fit. There will be coloured soles and when the leathers I want natural looks, I would like to create favorite pieces.
You wear Birkenstock to the jacket. A statement?
These shoes are a special model – a combination of three different shoes (laughs). You are my lab: can you wear, I can imagine that the market in the following season? Also the theme of personalization of the styles involved a here. Here I collect experiences. For example, at Frankfurt airport, at 7:30 am at the security check. With all the men’s tie and Briefcase, look on my feet, clear. I didn’t have on business shoes and tie. In Germany, they look, internationally, that is far less sensational. In Denver, which has interested nobody, which carry yourself much sandal. In men, it is the combination of homegrown, Grey Heather wool socks to the “Arizona”.
With the styling you’re not alone: recently, fashion-conscious influencers worldwide wear Birkenstock.
I think we are at a crossroads. Internally, Birkenstock is reorganized and we face the challenges of the brand world. We see enormous hype to the brand, which originated from this naturalness. Where to meet, without burning him and also too much to stir him up. There is no patent solution, it is much gut feeling. For example, the cooperation, we say better partnership, such as with jewelry designer Patrik muffin. I would like to work with people, which I love to do. The pleasure is the key to success.
What can we expect next?
I would like, that Birkenstock is referred to as a modern brand, and that this world’s great designers like to work with us, because we are a good partner and a good product. Personal preferred candidate this is Karl Lagerfeld. He is authentic, with success and it reached a large audience. We were two companies that operate on different levels, but solid. Author Paulo Coelho would be fantastic, because he is someone who stands also for sustainability. But not only people, and materials are an issue. I would like to work with Harris Tweed, less in cooperation as rather with him as a material.