“Authentic slow fashion”: Bstore MD Mike Edmiston on

Bstore, Australia’s largest official Birkenstock retailer, has committed to its first long-term partnership with not-for-profit Science for Wildlife, a wildlife conservation organisation, which is working to protect koalas and their habitats. The retailer has committed to donating a portion of each sale to Science for Wildlife in order to aid the organisation’s research and development in science-led conservation solutions. It follows a move by giant retailers – such as Nike and Puma – w

– which have ended the use of kangaroo leather following external pressure over wildlife protection, and a move by footwear company Clarks, which invested in a four-year partnership with Aussie Ark

Bstore managing director Mike Edmiston said that the partnership with Science for Wildlife was a move in the right direction, and continues the company’s commitment to environmental sustainability. This commitment includes the ongoing one-for-one tree project, whereby a tree is planted for every pair of shoes purchased.

Edmiston told Inside Retail that the partnership was an extension of the brand’s commitment to create a sustainable future through everyday practices. He added that koalas are one of Australia’s most iconic animals, representing the wonder of Australia’s wildlife, which is under threat from habitat loss and climate change.

“Bstore chose to partner with Science for Wildlife because their commitment to effective wildlife conservation directly complements [my] personal passion for tree planting and sustainability,” Edmiston said.

“[I] regularly plant native trees in [the] community and get Bstore involved in activities such as Planet Ark’s Bstore Tree Day which is taking place in June.”

While he hopes that customer loyalty is a positive byproduct of the partnership, he said it’s not the main objective.

“Every partnership we undertake or teambuilding activity that we do is a way of amplifying that passion and inspiring our team to live a more sustainable life,” he said.

“Reducing the catastrophic effects of climate change seems overwhelming, but by working together we can all make a difference.”

Global cult status

Birkenstock has undergone a revival in recent years. In 2021, L Catterton – a private equity firm part-owned by LVMH – acquired a majority stake in the German footwear company. The deal reportedly gave the brand a valuation of US$4.8, according to Reuters. 

Sales have continued to soar since the Covid-19 pandemic due in part to the casualisation of workwear and fashion, and an emphasis on quality shoes that endure. The Guardian reported that Birkenstock was one of the three most purchased fashion items in 2022, with its Boston clogs – a best seller – going viral on TikTok.

Without revealing specific figures, Edmiston said that Bstore has just come out of its largest summer ever, and that Birkenstock shoes are a customer favourite with global cult status.

He added that the brand is not forecasting a slowdown in sales as winter in Australia approaches.

“A new generation of celebrities and influencers have been flaunting their love for the brand in recent years and there’s no doubt that this has had an impact on consumer demand,” he said.

“Birkenstock has also focused on a series of high-profile partnerships from high fashion houses like Dior and Proenza Schouler to trend-setters Rick Owens and Valentino Garavani. These all showcase both the versatility and virality of the brand.”

Edmiston added that Birkenstock’s partnerships, its focus on sustainability and its pop-culture status have all contributed to the brand’s rejuvenation in recent years, with the latter two factors being particularly profound among a younger generation.

But he believes that the common thread among all Birkenstock lovers is that they have stayed with the brand for its comfort and quality.

“Birkenstock would be nothing without its original footbed and construction. [They] are also made to be repaired and re-soled when needed. It’s old school, authentic slow fashion,” he said.  

Cracking start

The Western Australian retailer expanded into New South Wales in 2022, after identifying strong e-commerce activity by Sydney-based shoppers. And according to Edmiston, Bstore will continue to expand its retail presence later this year, with new stores in the pipeline.

“We’ve had a cracking start to the year with the launch of the Bstore app, which already represents 15 per cent of online revenue and is growing every week,” he said.

“Birkenstock is a heritage brand and comes with the type of fan base others could only dream of. “