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“Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness,” Oscar Wilde once said. It’s not really fair to call the luxury house delivering some of the industry’s most exciting presentations “mediocre,” but Birkenstock is very well deserving of the “greatness” mantle, setting an all-time standard for sandals that has yet to be matched in the two-and-a-half centuries since it was founded. As such, its classic Arizona silhouette makes a great working base for luxury footwear designers, as evidenced by Balenciaga‘s verrrry familiar-looking “Mallorca” sandal.
In this era of us all wanting to dress like chefs, the fashion biz has been dishing out all manner of easy, slip-on shoes that recall a certain German brand’s signature strappy style: hence Louis Vuitton’s definitely-not-a-Birkenstock “Trainer Mule,” and Palm Angels’ original-design-yep-nothing-to-see-here “Logo Sandals”. Balenciaga is only the latest luxury label to toss its hat (or sandals) into the ring, but to be fair, the Kering-owned label has made a name for itself in flipping recognizable shapes, so this platform sandal is well within its oeuvre.
Especially given that Birkenstock has seen a monetary infusion from rival conglomerate LVMH, it only makes too much sense for Balenciaga to try its hand at an original summer shoe. This iteration of the shoe — the Mallorca isn’t a wholly new style for Balenciaga, but it received jelly plastic and platform reworks this season — is cut from a plush sheepskin (no cork footbeds here) in Italy, lifted by a tall, molded footbed and tightened with a pair of sturdy straps that feature sturdy metal buckles with Balenciaga branding. If you’re going to borrow from the best, might as well upgrade the rest of your sandal, eh?
The Mallorca platform sandals are available in plenty of sizes on Balenciaga’s site for a cool $750. If that’s too steep a price for you, remember that regular platform Arizonas clock in at about $100, though they’re more laid-back hippie than luxuriant slide.