(NEW YORK) — Birkenstock took a big step forward on Wall Street this week, taking the nearly 250-year-old German shoe and sandal maker public.
The footwear, often seen as a counter culture shoe for hippies, and in more recent years influencers, has become must-have footwear for many people, but Birkenstock’s Initial Public Offering, or IPO, which was originally priced at $46 per share, didn’t attract the dress shoe-wearing stock brokers on Wednesday.
Shares opened at $41, near the lower end of its expected range of $44 to $49 set a week prior, as Birkenstock CEO Oliver Reichert rang the opening bell in a room surrounded by traders sporting the opened-toed footwear and others waving the sandals in the air.
Birkenstock Holding Ltd. sold nearly 10.8 million shares in the offering, which raised about $495 million on the day. Its shareholders sold an additional 21.5 million shares, according to the Associated Press.
“Through the strong reputation and universal appeal of our brand — enabling extensive word-of-mouth exposure and outsized earned media value — we have efficiently built a growing global fanbase of millions of consumers that uniquely transcends geography, gender, age and income,” Birkenstock said in a recent regulatory filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to the AP.
What started out in 1774 as a somewhat frumpy, but functional arch support sandal has transformed into a cult fashion item and billion dollar business, bolstered with support from the recent blockbuster hit “Barbie” when Margot Robbie’s character is forced to choose between high heels or the strappy suede footwear.
In tandem with the opening on Wall Street, Birkenstock hosted three consumer activations in public parks throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn.
To highlight New York as “the city that never stops walking,” the brand created what it dubbed “Birkenfields” for a public sensory experience that explored the brand’s nearly 250-year heritage and expertise in foot health.
The global brand is deeply rooted in foot health maintenance as well as a family tradition of shoemaking: Its inventor sought to provide function, quality and tradition as Birkenstock’s core values.
Over 95% of Birkenstock products are assembled in Germany with more than 90% of their materials and components sourced from Europe, ensuring the brand meets “the highest environmental and social standards in the industry by operating state-of-the-art scientific laboratories for materials testing,” according to a company press release.
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