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The Birkenstock brand traces its roots to Johann Adam Birkenstock, registered in 1774 as a "vassal and shoemaker" In 1896 two shoe stores opened in Frankfurt, Germany where he continued to make and sell his insoles

In 1902 saw the development of the first flexible arch-support for insertion into factory-made shoes; and in 1964, Karl Birkenstock developed these inserts into a shoe — thus producing the original prototype of the Birkenstock sandal

In 1966 Birkenstocks were introduced in the United States, as well as elsewhere. American, Margot Fraser "discovered" Birkenstock sandals while visiting a spa in Germany

In 2018, the company was given PETA's Libby Award for being the "Most Animal-Friendly Shoe Company.