If we were to find a starting point in the viral spread of Birkenstocks we could probably indicate the date of January 15, 2020, the day on which Kanye West he made himself immortalized with a couple of Boston at the feet. Well before his political sympathies turned him into a parody of self himself, West had that innate power to make anything he wore go viral, making it disappear from the inventories of online shops within hours. Raise your hand who remembers when, after a fleeting appearance at a Versace event, the Graduation rapper gave unexpected popularity to Gustavus sweatpants Of Brain Dead, sold out in a short time and still unavailable today except on resell sites. Black trousers and an oversized blazer, West’s outfit represents the ideal beginning of the incessant popularity of the Boston which has become, thanks to a long series of external factors, one of the objects of desire of a large part of the world’s population. But apart from the assist provided by Kanye West, the roots of Birkenstock’s success are to be found TikTokwhere Boston has become a real obsession for users of the platform: the hashtag #birkenstockboston count 102.3 million viewswhile as he wrote High snobiety some users said they had to buy the shoes on resell sites due to limited availability, often spending more than two hundred dollars.
Such a popularity as to make them the best-selling shoes on Yoox in 2022, the same year that searches reported by Lyst have grown by 593% only in the first six months. But if on the one hand Birkenstock’s success may seem like a godsend for the brand, the right consecration of a brand that has been on the market since 1774, on the other it is the product of a FOMO that with TikTok has found its definitive form in a whirlwind of emulative shopping that has found its maximum expression with the boom of the Chinese platform. It is no coincidence that in What’s Next Report published by TikTok to summarize the past year, it is reported that 58% of Italian users say they trust a brand after seeing it on TikTok, while 65% say they rely on online reviews and creators’ advice to decide what acquire. Halfway between a digital personal shopper and an infinite moodboard, the “Best of” of TikTok’s emulative purchases also includes New Balance 550as well as the now unobtainable ones Sambaas well as a very long list of trends whose names, if pronounced backwards in front of a mirror, could cause Satan to appear.
If, as predicted, 2023 could be the year of «nothingcore», the hope for the year that has just begun could be that of greater spontaneity behind purchases, unrelated to what we saw in our daily scrolling on TikTok’s For You Page and closer to our personal tastes. Surviving the era of hypeculture, in which wearing a certain sneaker meant wanting to claim one’s belonging to a certain group, we deluded ourselves that we had found greater freedom of expression by taking refuge in trends that were nothing more than derivatives of imposed desires. If the continuous sharing of any detail of our life via social media row in the opposite direction, leading us to be influenced by the actions of others, the first step towards the way out of this vicious circle is awareness. Because in a world where everyone has Birkenstock Bostons, no one really owns Birkenstock Bostons.