Birkenstock has been rolling out unexpected, high-end collaborations through its 1774 sub-label for a few years now, partnering up with the likes of Rick Owens, Valentino and most recently Proenza Schouler. Its latest collaboration with menswear designer Stefano Pilati’s Random Identities is as niche — and destined for cult status — as all of the above.
Pilati showed the debut runway collection of his brand Thursday night at Pitti Uomo in Florence, a highly anticipated comeback from the former Yves Saint Laurent creative director after he stepped down from his latest mega-brand role at Ermenegildo Zegna in 2016.
The premise for Pilati’s Random Identities label (which he launched in 2017 but only now held its first runway show for fall ’20) is all about basics, like suits, shirting and trousers, priced accessibly and intended for any gender. So it made sense that the designer chose Birkenstock’s ubiquitous Arizona sandal. “It has to be one of the most iconic styles, how could I not choose it?” Pilati told FN in an email interview. He decked out the sandal (which seems to also be the fashion world’s particular choice of Birk) in three styles: a utilitarian black leather, black brocade and a custom olive leopard print done on fur.
Like his ready-to-wear, Pilati came up with the capsule based on what he would want to wear himself. “The prints and fabrications are all based off my personal style,” he said. He also added an elasticized band to the two buckles on the Arizona to give a new sensibility to the sandal. “I wanted to intervene on the original design, giving the sense of an update while keeping intact the functionality of Birkenstock’s orthopedic tradition.”
That’s good news for Pilati and Birkenstock devotees, both of which have a fiercely loyal following. The sandals felt right at home on the runway with the designer’s sophisticated interpretation of basics, highlights of which included a collection of suits that look truly wearable for just about anyone on the gender spectrum. Pilati’s suits and Birks feel like a winning formula for dressing in a new decade of fashion.
The collaboration is available at 1774.com today.