How Manolo Blahnik’s ‘Creative Genius’ Led to FN’s Collaboration of the Year Award With Birkenstock

Manolo Blahnik president of Americas and chief commercial officer Andrew Wright and Birkenstock CSO Klaus Baumann took the stage at Cipriani South Street Wednesday night to accept the Collaboration of the Year award at the 2022 FN Achievement Awards.

“This was a collaboration in the truest sense of the word,” Wright said as he accepted the award on behalf of Mr. Blahnik and his niece and CEO, Kristina Blahnik. “We didn’t know where this would take us, but it turned out to be a very special moment and was a work of passion.”

Wright added that some may have thought this collaboration was “a little unusual,” but the “creative genius” of Mr. Blahnik understood the partnership from the beginning. “It’s something which he felt was integral to him,” Wright said. “He is inspired by emotion, and I think what was very emotional for him was that Birkenstocks are a big part of his life.”

“This amazing project was a long journey, but I want to thank all of the teams that worked behind the scenes on this complex collaboration,” Baumann added. “Thank you very much.”

Andrew Wright, Klaus Baumann, Pritika Swarup, Charlotte Groeneveld, FNAA
David Kahan, Klaus Baumann, Pritika Swarup, Charlotte Groeneveld, and Andrew Wright attend the 2022 Footwear News Achievement Awards at Cipriani South Street on Nov. 30, 2022 in New York City.
CREDIT: Footwear News via Getty Images

It was a perfect marriage of two footwear icons. The Manolo Blahnik for Birkenstock two-part collaboration was a sell-out event for fans and merged the comfort brand’s classics with the essence of the design master.

The hallmarks of the partnership were luxurious velvet uppers and crystal buckles, as well as playful polka-dot patterns on the signature cork-bottom sandals and clogs.

According to the design legend, the first styles from the collection sold out in 12 hours. “It was extraordinary, I couldn’t believe it,” Mr. Blahnik told FN in an interview. “I was stunned but thrilled that the collaboration was so well received globally.”

For 36 years, the annual FN Achievement Awards — often called the “Shoe Oscars” — have celebrated the style stars, best brand stories, ardent philanthropists, emerging talents and industry veterans. The 2022 event is supported by presenting sponsor Nordstrom, as well as Caleres, FDRA, Merrell, Vibram and Volumental. 

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