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Member News & Press: Past News


Tuesday, April 25, 2017  
Posted by: NSRA
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Birkenstock Mourns the Loss of Margot Fraser
Cheerful Footwear Industry Icon Brought Comfort to Millions

NOVATO, CA – April 24, 2017 – Birkenstock USA announced today the recent passing of Margot Fraser. Ms. Fraser is responsible for bringing Birkenstock products to the U.S. and for building the brand over its first 40 years in the market.

Ms. Fraser was a German-American dressmaker and designer when she first discovered Birkenstock sandals on a spa trip to Germany in 1966. These sandals had an anatomically designed, orthopedically-correct contoured cork footbed. She instantly experienced comfort and relief from the constrictive, poorly-made shoes that were common at that time. Her toes straightened. Her back felt better. She was so impressed that she contacted Karl Birkenstock to explore importing his family’s ‘odd-looking sandals’ into the U.S. She was granted the distribution rights and set about building Birkenstock from her home in Northern California.

Ms. Fraser was a humble trailblazer. She was a female entrepreneur during a time when this was quite rare. Without any traditional retail or footwear experience, she built a multimillion dollar business that brought comfort to millions of people. She did so, always, with a warm smile, a deep belief in the product and a sincere appreciation of the people she worked with throughout the industry.

Today, in the U.S., Birkenstock is found in the finest retail stores. Birkenstock is worn by celebrities and on the pages of fashion magazines. Most important to Margot though, Birkenstock is found on the feet of millions of passionate consumers that find comfort and satisfaction in those ‘odd-looking sandals.’

“It is not an overstatement to say that Margot’s pioneering efforts paved the way for European comfort brands here in the U.S.,” said David Kahan, CEO of Birkenstock Americas. “It is because of Margot and the foundation she built that the brand is enjoying the success that it is today. And, it is because of Margot that shoes that are good for you have a place in so many stores and closets across the country.” Ms. Fraser was inducted into the Footwear News (FN) Hall of Fame in 1997 and the National Shoe Retailers Association (NSRA) Hall of Fame in 2014.

About Birkenstock USA, LP
Birkenstock offers sandals, clogs, shoes and arch supports all based on their original contoured cork latex footbed. Classic silhouettes in warm and comfortable colors are available in women’s, men’s and children’s styles. Birkenstock products are made in Germany, since 1774, and reflect their key values of health and wellness, quality craftsmanship and environmental sensibility. Birkenstock is currently available at independent footwear retailers, better department stores, online retailers and select ready to wear boutiques throughout the U.S. Find more information at


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