Despite there being a glut of gorgeous Birkenstock collaborations over the past year alone, I can't get enough. What can I say? I'm a Birk head. No one makes better-looking or comfier sandals at this scale and seeing the granola-y Birkenstock get a fashion-y makeover is a fun exploration of contrasts.
But even the plethora of special Birkenstocks dropping nearly every month can't scratch every itch, hence the hunger for custom sandals tailored to individual needs.
These studded Birkenstocks, created by Zip Stevenson's Hollywood Trading Company for Japanese retailer Standard California, epitomize that demand.
Hollywood Trading Company, or HTC for short, was founded in LA around the year 2000, a half-decade after Stevenson launched vintage and repair outlet Denim Doctors
HTC makes and upcycles a variety of rock n' roll-themed wearables but is perhaps best known for its handmade studded accessories, ranging from small leather goods to Stevenson's signature belts.
There's a cowboy couture feel here, a grittiness that distinguishes Stevenson's work from the similarly decorative designs of, say, Jeff Hamilton.
It's exactly this retro Californian feel that makes HTC a fit for STANDARD CALIFORNIA, a nearly 20-year-old store based in Shibuya's Ebisu neighborhood.
Inspired by "classic Southern California style & culture," STANDARD CALIFORNIA sells a lot of surf-y beachwear, lived-in workwear, and an exclusive selection of HTC accessories.
This brings us to the studded Birkenstocks.
Unlike the recent glam and patterned Birkenstock collabs that've been rolling out for a while now — which we all quite enjoy, BTW — HTC adds additional hardware to the upper of the humble Arizona and Boston, creating one-off statement sandals that're as wearable as any classic Birk.
Priced between ￥41,580-￥61,600 (about $300-$450) apiece on STANDARD CALIFORNIA's web store, HTC's bespoke Birkenstocks are far more expensive than the average Arizona or Boston — the inimitable leather and suede versions normally retail between $120 and $170 — but they're also that much more special.
Yes, each shoe is literally just a typical Birkenstock with studs and gems hammered into into their straps but what else would you expect?
For me, the appeal is that you've got the same immensely wearable sandal, just with a 'lil bit of added flash. And that's satisfying enough.