Footwear fancy: Chaco cult vs. Birkenstocks: Not merely foot-wear, but an Institution

By Simon Boes

Staff Writer

“People are more in love with Chacos than their significant other,” Professor Bran Potter exclaims as he comments on the campus footwear vibe. Chaco footwear reigns supreme at Sewanee – more popular than Shia LaBeouf, Dean Hagi (debatable), and most notably, Birkenstocks. Sewanee boasts about our outdoorsy, nature-loving swagger, and to aid us in our quest to fulfil our hiking and hammock fantasies, Chacos are our Excalibur. Before you dismiss Chaco footwear as a one-trick pony, think about the different times you’ve seen them. That boy is wearing a pair to class with his dress shirt and khakis – he looks great! That girl is wearing them on the nature hike with Haskell – fashionable! The great thing about Chacos are they are the Swiss Army knife of shoes. Pull them out in almost any situation and you’ll be fit and ready for action. Amelia Warnock (C’18) elaborates, “Chacos are practical because they have better arch support, are water resistant, and have ankle straps.” Amelia, a self-proclaimed outdoors enthusiast, endorses the Chaco community to no end. With the pros stacking up, it is hard to believe some people still continue to buy those blundering Birkenstocks.

Just as Billy Mays would say, there’s more! After discussing the tension between footwear with Amy Lee Parker (C’16) she needed to make something clear. She revealed, “Chacos are a regional identification, they create a sense of community.” You know when you see another person sporting these functional fantastic footguards, he or she is the type of person you can approach and have things in common with.       To wrap things up on a few personal notes, Chacos are the start to great new friendships. I initiated my friendship with Chris Woolverton (C’16) by complimenting his mutli-colored chaco straps. I also talked to Anna Jeffcoat, (C’19), about Chacos, and she smiled with a sparkle in her eye, “Nothing like a Chaco tan.” As you can see, there is never a bad time to strap on a pair of Chacos and venture forth.

By Tess Steele

Staff Writer

For the wandering soul meandering through the paths of virtues and values, she will eventually find herself at the intersection of tradition and innovation. It is here that she will happen upon precisely one thing: Birkenstocks.

Unlike many other brands of footwear appealing to the “granola” population, Birkenstocks are unique in their history. Originating over 230 years ago, it can hardly be argued that the shoe company has had ample time over the centuries to perfect the art of Birkenstock making. Being a family-owned business, the creation of the magnificent cork-latex footbed has evolved and transformed under the careful and nurturing eye of generations of the Birkenstock family. The family’s creative nature and genuine hard work have resulted in a shoe that has proven to be as trustworthy as the traditional roots of the company.

The very essence of the sandals must be examined in further detail to fully appreciate the glorious Birkenstock experience. With not one, not two, but an astonishing six layers, it is no wonder that the shoe, being a product of both labor and love, is a saving grace for anyone seeking the ultimate comfort in footwear.

“Birkenstocks have proven to be a positive influence on my life because they have been a literal foundation for me. They carry my feet throughout the day in style and comfort. Yes, they are sandals, but their suede material and coffee tone make them formal enough to match with more proper outfits as well,” expressed Eliana Perozo (C’18). “These shoes offer me a sense of comfort and most importantly a sense of ease. Get the stocks; you won’t regret it.”

Wearers of the shoe embody the hardworking values of the family while simultaneously giving a nod to the past. Forward thinking is evident in the bold and fresh styles of Birks that emerge with each new season, yet these innovative styles rest on the tried and true foundation of the beloved soles. “Birkenstocks are meant to be worn by all ages and sexes and will forever and always be in my heart,” said Maggie Bliss (C’16).

The loyalty of the brand is part of what makes the company not merely another type of sandal, but a footwear religion of sorts. Sister Madeline Mary from St. Mary’s Convent has been wearing the shoes for over 35 years and finds them splendid, even for her work in the divine realm. “I’m hard on shoes, and Birkenstocks wear well on the top and can easily be resoled. A polish and new sole, and they are as good as new, but don’t have to be broken in. They fit to your feet so they always feel comfortable, and they last longer for me than other shoes.”

Birkenstocks are not merely footwear, nor simply a lifestyle. The iconic shoe is a manifestation of the intrinsically beautiful workings of human tradition and perseverance, and anyone with the audacity to argue otherwise should be cursed with a Chaco-induced blister.