When I worked in a professional kitchen, the footwear requirements were the bane of my existence. The shoe of choice for chefs has long been the clog, but not just any clog—a sensible clog. Your shoes need to be supportive, providing comfort and preventing injuries during long hours spent standing and running around on potentially slick surfaces. But over my dead body would someone outside the kitchen catch a glimpse of my Danskos or, worse, the unapologetically orthopedic plastic Super Birkis I switched to after rolling my ankle one too many times on the platform of said Danskos.
Imagine my surprise when, seven years later, I saw my most fashionable friend (objectively speaking—she worked in fashion) donning a pair of the same Super Birkis, in public, in broad daylight, with a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt. I was pissed. Why? Because she managed to make Birkenstock’s ugliest item look cool. I instantly regretted having thrown mine away.
And she’s not the only one reaching for kitchen clogs—I’ve been getting served ads for Dansko and Calzuro, catching TikTok influencers show off their Birkis in OOTDs and seeing people on the street wear Danskos like stilettos. Since when did the practical footwear become fashionable?
One could argue, as we did for Crocs in 2020, that the rise of the clog stems from the pandemic-driven need for comfort, or the popularity of normcore and athleisure in fashion, or the return of the ’70s aesthetic. But ask anyone who’s spent time in a professional kitchen, and they’ll tell you clogs have always been around. Call it the Bear effect—when chefs became cool, so did their sartorial choices.