It wasn’t enough for Balenciaga to simply take on the Birkenstock Boston sandal. No, although Balenciaga’s new closed-toe clogs are a remarkable facsimile bordering on IP theft (hey, I’m no lawyer), they distinguish themselves with utterly unnecessary, terrifyingly-defined “toes.” Of course.

Unlike the many other luxury Birkenstock imitators, Balenciaga’s clogs follow the Birkenstock formula remarkably closely, from their cork footbed to the suede uppers and single strap. And, note that Balenciaga’s sandals, called the “Sunday Mule” according to #1 Balenciaga fan @myfacewheno_o, are not an official Birkenstock collaboration.

Instead, I can mere offer that the toe dimples at the end of the Balenci-stock’s toebox are both an impressive feat (no pun intended!) of footwear manufacturing and an utterly unpleasant reminder of the feet housed within.

Revealed as part of Balenciaga’s Spring 2024 collection, Balenciaga’s Sunday Mule is like the freakish spawn of a Birkenstock Boston and Vibram’s toe shoes, except infinitely more expensive than both combined.

These Balenci-Stock shoes keep Balenciaga on the cutting edge of wholly unnecessary shoes that only serve to emphasize, not obscure, the human foot. Even for Balenciaga, that’s a pretty ignominious achievement.

It took years for the Birkenstock Boston clog to become the cultural phenomenon that it is, overcoming years of public indignity to eventually become one of 2022’s biggest footwear success stories.

Even then, I have a hard time believing that public perception around the Boston has shifted enough to make Balenciaga’s toe-slides palatable to even the most ardent Boston enjoyers.

I mean, the effect is almost like a giant wearing a slightly-too-small, slightly moist clog that’s dried around the shape of their feet. It, uh, ain’t for everyone.

Then again, if it’s still as difficult to procure a pair of Birkenstock Bostons as it was last summer, perhaps Balenciaga’s sandals actually present an attainable alternative (if would-be Boston wearers can stomach the sticker shock).

Given that Birkenstock has warmed to collaborating with luxury labels over the past few years — and vice versa — I have to wonder if Balenciaga initially reached out to Birkenstock to make the collaboration official.

I mean, Balenciaga got Lays’ blessing for its faux chip bags so I know it’s not above going straight to the source.

On the other hand, Birkenstock knows it has a good thing. It only ever changes its stock models so rarely that even a slight tweak is headline news (for me, at least), and perhaps Balenciaga’s freakish feet were one step (ha) over the line.

At least Balenciaga’s faux Birkenstocks are far cleverer than Sarah Jessica Parker’s bootleg Gucci Bostons.


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