Both leather and vegan Birkenstocks are the pride of the brand. It is hard to tell which Birkenstock material is better between leather and vegan. The answer relies on individual preference and personality.
The classic leather Birkenstocks appear to be creasy and wrinkly in the long run. Although testing to break in, they are highly durable and comfy when worn often. Vegan models, on the other hand, have a smoother and more refined texture. They are cruelty-free options as they are made of recycled and plant-based materials.
Choosing between leather and vegan Birkenstocks is not as easy as it is said. If you think you’re having a hard time selecting, continue reading, as I have included sections enumerating the advantages and disadvantages of the said materials.
Indeed, this article will help you reach a well-thought decision. Continue scrolling to learn more about the differences between leather and vegan Birkenstocks and which material is best suited for you.
What is the main difference between leather and vegan Birkenstocks?
The visually imperfect but leather Birkenstocks are famous for their patina and creases, which develop through time. The brand utilizes many types of leather, such as smooth, oiled, nubuck, Amalfi, and suede.
Leather has a grainy and non-uniformed texture. Leather is the primary material in almost every Birks model, from sandals to clogs. Birkenstocks made of leather are dyed naturally.
Common knowledge about leather is that they are incredibly durable. More so, they are heat and fire-resistant. Its downside, however, is that it requires high maintenance. A special and detailed cleaning process is needed to maintain that leather charm.
Unlike leather, vegan Birks tend to have a uniform and refined grainy pattern. More so, the brand ensures that no animal was harmed and used in producing its vegan lineup. Birkenstock makes the most out of microfibers and synthetic materials as a substitute.
You might wonder if vegan Birks still have that footbed blueprint, just like any other Birken classic. Yes! They still have that anatomically contoured footbed made of natural cork and jute, still cruelty-free!
Birkenstock Leather Materials
Leather Birkenstocks are the foundation of the brand. Without an inch of doubt, the types of leather used in creating Birks pairs are high-quality. More so, these are processed thoroughly, ensuring durability and toughness.
As mentioned, Birkenstock makes use of different types of leather. The most common are the natural, nubuck, oiled, suede, and Amalfi. Natural and oiled leather Birks stand out as their untreated surface screams elegance and sophistication.
Both require a lot of patience to be worn in as these materials are thick. However, what made them the go-to pairs is because of the comfort they bring when the break-in period is finally done.
Natural and oiled leathers shrink naturally and are stretchable. The more you wear them, the more they’ll feel comfy. The main difference between natural and oiled leather Birks is that the latter has a waxy or oily finish.
For a much smoother and attention-grabbing leather texture, opt for the shiny Amalfi leather Birkenstocks. Just like natural and oiled leather, Amalfi is flexible and will easily conform to the shape of your feet.
On the other hand, if you are searching for exotic-looking and fuzzy footwear, try checking out Birkenstock pairs made of nubuck or suede leather. Nubuck leather is more expensive than suede but thicker and more robust. Other than that, both materials are flexible and breathable.
They appear to have a velvety and smooth texture that no other type of leather can offer. However, it is worth noting that if you are a water baby looking for a travel companion, nubuck and suede are not for you as they are not water-resistant and are sensitive to moisture.
Birkenstock Vegan Materials
The materials used in Birkenstock Vegan are entirely non-animal based. Due to their production of the vegan collection, PETA Germany gave the brand the “Most Vegan-Friendly Shoe Company” award and the Madrid vegan pair received the “Vegan Fashion Award” in 2017.
Vegan materials are cruelty-free and eco-friendly. Thus, for a completely ethical and conscientious pair, you have a lot of options to choose from in the vegan Birkenstock lineup.
Of course, they would appear less leather-like than leather Birkenstocks. However, as mentioned earlier, you don’t need to worry because the traditional footbed design still exists in vegan models.
Vegan Birkenstocks are made with the following materials: ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), microfiber, synthetic leathers, cork, and jute. Although these materials can’t absolutely replicate the features leather Birks offer, they are unique on their own.
The EVA material is a water-resistant component that is considered a copolymer. Two types of skin-friendly plastics are combined to create this lightweight, durable, and abrasion-resistant material: vinyl acetate and ethylene.
For the upper leather, Birkenstock makes use of microfiber and synthetic materials. Microfiber is an equally lightweight vegan material that is not only used as an upper leather replacement but also embedded in the footbed lining. It can also serve as a substitute for suede.
The Birko-Flor and Birkibuc, are the patented synthetic materials of the brand. They resemble smooth and nubuck leather but of course without the patina and crease. For more detailed information about these synthetic materials, check out this article.
For the legendary footbed design, natural cork and jute are still used in creating vegan Birkenstocks. Cork is the reason why Birks are flexible and shock-absorbent, while jute fabric ensures that the footbeds are breathable.
What are the best-selling leather Birks?
Birkenstock is known for its unisex and roomy leather sandals. Most Birkenstock wearers prefer wearing leather sandals as these look more original and regal. Some best-selling leather Birks are the Arizona, Gizeh, Madrid, Milano, and Boston Clogs.
When finding a very versatile and casual-looking slip-on, opt for the Arizona or Madrid Birks. This model is available in multiple leather types, such as smooth, suede, and oiled.
You can also check out the Milano Birks for a heel-supportive Arizona-like leather pair option. They come with a back-strap which offers excellent support and stability.
For a closed-toe option, the most sought-after model is the Boston Clogs. Lastly, try the Gizeh Birkenstocks if you want a more sophisticated and feminine sandal. Their leather lineups are available in many eye-catching colors.
What are the best-selling vegan Birks?
Due to the popularity of the above-mentioned leather models, many vegan consumers are looking for their vegan counterparts. Birkenstock has already introduced a list of vegan options with the same designs!
Arizona, Gizeh, Madrid, and Milano all have vegan pairs under their lineups. Boston Clogs, on the other hand, also has a vegan counterpart, the Boston Vegan Birko-Flor. Apart from these, Franca Vegan is also a front-runner.
Another in-demand vegan pair is the Super-Birki. Suppose you are looking for a closed-toe option that is perfect to wear in working stations such as hospitals or restaurants; the Super-Birki Vegan is the one for you.
How comfortable and durable are leather and vegan Birkenstocks?
When you try wearing them right out of the box, leather Birkenstocks may cause a little discomfort. Genuine leather, whatever type, requires a break-in period.
You have to break them in first before you get access to great comfort. This may be a bit challenging for some, especially for first-time Birks buyers. For some breaking-in tips, read this article.
Vegan Birks, on the other hand, are comfortable to wear even if they are just newly bought. However, they do not possess that hugging effect that only leather uppers can bring to their wearers.
Leather is more durable than vegan, and this is a no-brainer. Vegan Birkenstocks are fairly durable and can also last a long time but leather Birks have really established a high level of standard in terms of durability.
Between leather and vegan Birkenstocks, which is more expensive?
For as low as $60, you can already purchase a Super-Birki Vegan. The most expensive vegan model is Boston which is priced at $120. Gizeh and Mayari Vegans can be bought at $100, while Arizona Vegan at $83.
Most leather Birkenstocks are priced in a higher range. For instance, the oiled leather Arizona is priced at $130, while the suede leather is at $125. Leather Gizeh and Mayari’s price ranges from $130 to $160.
For a cheaper option, the vegan collection has many Birks models to offer. But if you have enough money to buy a leather style, then go for it. You can also find leather models that are priced lower than their original cost, so watch out for sales!
Leather vs. Vegan Birkenstocks, Final Thoughts…
Generally, Birkenstock uses premium-quality leather and vegan materials in producing its footwear. Both types are greatly reliable in terms of durability, style, and level of comfort.
Choosing between leather and vegan models may be challenging for some but not for those who remain loyal to their principles. If you heavily practice a vegan lifestyle and would like to enjoy the comfort and style of a Birkenstock pair, go check out their vegan collection.
If you think that leather will be more beneficial for you, then try them out. Birkenstock has created them under ethical conditions without violating labor and environmental laws.