You may have recently heard of ‘Birko Flor’, a new material that was developed by the Birkenstock shoe company.
Birko Flor appeals to many vegans and people that avoid purchasing products with animal byproducts. But, of course, there is a reason leather has been used steadily for so many years to craft shoes.
If you have a beloved pair of leather or suede Birkenstocks, you may wonder how any other material can compete.
What Is The Difference Between Birko Flor And Leather?
Over time, the differences between the two materials will become more apparent, so it’s best to know the ins and outs of both materials.
Birko Flor is a PVC material that feels similar to leather. The other side is cushioned with soft fleece to keep your foot comfortable and absorb shock as you walk.
Leather is, unsurprisingly, made of leather that comes from cowhides. Birkenstock sandals use nubuck leather. Nubuck leather is just sanded or buffed leather that offers a super smooth and velvety feel.
Birko Flor is super comfortable and doesn’t take any time to break in because they are softer than real leather. This is partly due to the fleece that pads the back of Birko Flor shoes. The fleece adds an extra layer of cushioning that will absorb shock as you walk and keep your feet comfy.
Leather, on the other hand, takes some time to form to the shape of your foot. This break-in period is an upside and downside of Birkenstocks because, in the end, you have a shoe that perfectly fits your foot, but there is a bit of pain involved in the process.
The texture of leather and Birko Flor are very similar, and almost impossible for the average person to tell the difference. Both have a soft but firm texture on the outside that is gentle on your foot.
When shopping in-store, it would be difficult to distinguish between the two materials without the help of a Birkenstock employee or expert.
One thing to consider is that synthetics can irritate people that have sensitive skin or allergies. Leather is less likely to cause rashes or skin irritations because it’s a natural material.
Both Birko Flor and the Birkenstock leather are durable materials that should last you years to come. However, their lifespan works a bit differently.
Because Birko Flor is a synthetic PVC material, it will disintegrate and wear over time, slowly falling apart. Don’t worry, this will take years and years before it’s time to get rid of them.
But genuine leather, on the other hand, only becomes more durable and resistant to wear as time goes on and you break them in.
The trade-off here is that Birko Flors are comfortable immediately but go downhill with use. But genuine leather takes some time to soften and break in and, then, only gets better for a few years before wear starts.
Neither Birko Flor nor Birkenstock leather is completely waterproof. If exposed to water for an extended time, it can permanently damage the shoe, making it unwearable.
However, Birko Flor is more likely to resist water for a longer time because it is a synthetic material that is not as absorbent as genuine leather.
Luckily, the style options for both materials are about the same. The difference between Birko Flor and leather comes down to durability and price, but you can rock almost any color or sandal silhouette in either material.
If you want to have a variety of colors, you may want to opt for the Briko Flor because they are cheaper and will not need to withstand daily wear.
However, most people feel that the Birko Flor styles look slightly more manufactured compared to the natural and cobbled look you get with genuine leather or suede. But when it comes to colors and strap styles, you will have practically identical options with Birko Flor vs leather.
When it comes to the cost, it is undeniable that Birko Flor shoes are much cheaper. Because Birko Flor is a synthetic material and is cheaper to produce, leather has always been an expensive material.
However, many people see genuine leather as a long-term investment because it will last much longer than the synthetic Birko Flor. When you consider the lifespan of each material, the price of Birko Flor compared to leather comes out to be about the same.
But if you move on quickly from shoes and don’t need your sandals to last two, three, or four years, you might want to opt for the inexpensive Birko Flor options.
Birko Flor vs Leather; So Which Material Is Better?
People will like leather for one reason and Birko Flor for another. The difference between Birko Flor and leather is most prominent in the shoe’s durability.
While Birko Flor can be an excellent stand-in for a genuine leather sandal, it will make its way to the garbage bin much faster. Most people that love Birkenstocks are so passionate because the same pair has served them for years and years.
In the end, neither is definitively better than the other, but most people will continue to opt for genuine leather because of its fantastic reputation.
Many vegans and environmentally-conscientious people want the same leather feel without harming the environment or any animals. This aspect is where Briko Flor becomes the perfect option.
What Is Birkibuc?
Birkibuc is another material made by Birkenstock. It is similar to Birko Flor in that it is a durable and synthetic material that feels and looks like leather. Birkibuc is used in the upper parts of Birkenstocks shoes and is extremely lightweight. The design features acrylic and polyamide felt fibers.
Birkibuc more closely resembles leather than Birko Flor but also comes with similar changes to leather. Birkibuc shoes need to be broken in just like leather, while Birko Flor does take some time to contour to your foot shape.
In the Birko Flor vs leather debate, Birkibuc falls right in the middle. It is a synthetic material but feels and behaves more similarly to genuine leather or suede.
Brief History of Birkenstock
Birkenstock is a popular shoe company known for its signature leather sandals that mold to the shape of your feet. The shoe brand is a German company, and its roots can be traced back to 18th Century Germany.
A German cobbler, Johann Adam Birkenstock, prioritized hand-craftsmanship and durability in his shoes. The company’s goal has always been to make stylish shoes that are also good for your feet. Their staple sandals didn’t come to fruition until 1964, created by Karl Birkenstock.
Today, Birkenstocks are on the feet of almost every American, and you can find them in over 90 countries across the globe.
As the company grows and evolves, they experiment with different materials and shoe styles. They aim to cater to contemporary trends as well as cultural shifts towards environmentally-conscientious products.
What Is Birko Flor? Final Thoughts
Birkenstock continues to develop new synthetic materials in an attempt to mimic leather. Birko Flor is a great material, but still misses the mark when it comes to durability. But as the world moves closer to sustainable practices and environmentally-conscientious habits, leather becomes less and less appealing to people.
For those that want to look fashionable while caring for the earth and all the animals, Birko Flor is an excellent replacement for genuine leather or suede.