the free-spirited birkenstock x valentino campaign features ryan mcginley and is shot by roe ethridge

As one of last season’s best collaborations lands in store, we share an exclusive look in the new Roe Ethridge-shot campaign film with Ryan McGinley and Lili Sumner.

by i-D Staff
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02 July 2019, 12:04am

Following their appearance on Valentino’s autumn/winter 19 men’s catwalk, Pierpaolo Piccioli’s double take on Birkenstock’s iconic Arizona sandals quickly became the unexpected shoe of the season. Worn with tailored suit separates and styled with black socks, our feet craved their chic comfort in both black and red. Now, as the collaboration lands in store, the two exclusive interpretations of the familiar sandals come to life in a free-spirited campaign starring two i-D regulars, photographer Ryan McGinley and model Lili Sumner, shot by Roe Ethridge in New York. Its everyday distortions echo the BDE (big design energy) of this collaboration.

“I chose to make this collaboration with Birkenstock for the same reason people choose Birkenstock every day,” Pierpaolo Piccioli, Maison Valentino creative director, explained when his double take on the Görlitz-made Arizona sandals were revealed on the catwalk of his autumn/winter 19 men’s show. “No matter what you wear, who you are, no matter your gender or social background, no matter your age, your style, no matter if you care about fashion or if you do not, Birkenstock has its own universal language.” As fugly as they are practical, and as quality-rich as they are everyday easy, your favourite designers like nothing more than fusing their aesthetic with something that is so functional, inclusive and adaptable.” From Marc Jacobs’s iconic (and recently reissued) 1992 grunge collection for Perry Ellis to Phoebe Philo’s “Furkenstocks” for Céline spring/summer 13 to Rick Owens in recent seasons, fashion has flirted time and time again with Birkenstock, but as fugly as they are practical, the two-century-old sandal has never been more in demand.

Birkenstock x Valentino

In a recent interview with The Financial Times, Birkenstock co-CEO Oliver Reichert revealed that the brand had turned down both Supreme and Vetements for collaborations. Why? Because it was more about hype than product and, despite their popularity, Birkenstocks aren’t for hypebeasts, they’re for everyone. “I wanted the power of invisibility to blend into whatever I was working on, whether it be architectural photography, or beauty, or fashion, or personal things that get brought in,” Roe Ethridge told us when we spoke with the conceptual artist back in 2017. “I wanted this ‘everyman’ quality to blend into this idea of the atomised image,” he continued. Here, as Ryan stepped in front of the lens as opposed to behind it, and joined the New Zealand-born Hedi Slimane favourite Lili Sumner, this everyman quality blended with the everyman nature that makes Birkenstock so damn popular.

The Birkenstock x Valentino collaboration is available now in both black and red.

Birkenstock x Valentino campaign

This article originally appeared on i-D UK.