The Birkenstock brand traces its roots to Johann Adam Birkenstock, registered in 1774 as a “vassal and shoemaker” in local church archives in the small Hessian village of Langen-Bergheim. In 1896, Johann’s great-great-grandson Konrad Birkenstock developed the first contoured insole for use by shoemakers in the production of custom footwear. Also in the year 1896 Konrad created the Fussbett (footbed) and opened two shoe stores in Frankfurt, Germany, where he continued to make and sell his insoles.
The Birkenstock company created many educational courses to help spread awareness of the benefits of its shoes; in 1947, Konrad’s son, Carl Birkenstock, wrote the book “Podiatry-The Carl Birkenstock System”—one of many books released by Birkenstock. The year 1902 saw the development of the first flexible arch-support for insertion into factory-made shoes; and in 1964, Karl Birkenstock developed these inserts into a shoe — thus producing the original prototype of the Birkenstock sandal.