Chacos and Birks bring people together from all walks of life. Photo by Behang

Walking a mile in someone else’s shoes is philosophically lovely, but what do your own shoes say about you? For people devoted to Chacos and Birkenstocks, footwear speaks volumes about going places in amazingly versatile and comfortable sandals. Though the footwear can’t speak on its own, Chacos and Birkenstocks are a great talking point for their wearers.


Few passions run deeper than the love of Chacos. These sandals feature a webbing of straps that go through the sole, allowing you to adjust the fit just the way you like it.

Lauren Noorda of Las Vegas, Nevada, fell so in love with Chacos that she wore them every day for an entire year—facing all kinds of weather.

During that year she encountered a lot more than snow and rain with her sandals. She’s worn her Chacos in Egypt, Jerusalem,

Jordan, Utah, Scotland, England, France, South Africa, Botswana, and Zimbabwe. Despite one broken toe and a few scrapes, Noorda says wearing Chacos every day was worth it. “The fact that my Chacos were there for every moment of it just kind of enhances the shoes,” she says. “Everywhere I went, they went with me; everything I did, they did it too.”

Noorda finds that people love to talk to her about her Chacos, which she says can be annoying. Still, she’s grateful for the interest because her first conversation with her now-best friend began with an observation about her Chaco-wearing habit.


Bryce Johnson of Gilbert, Arizona, got his first pair of Birkenstocks seven years ago. As he says, the rest is history. He wears them six days a week—weather permitting—and is willing to confess that he loves wearing them with socks. These classic sandals, which feature a special insole that conforms to your feet, last for years of everyday wear.
Such durability creates great memories. Johnson had one pair that lasted through three years of travel. His Birkenstocks accompanied him on a research study abroad to India, among many other places. He blogged about his experiences under the title “Culture Shock and Birkenstocks” to represent the clash between the life back home and the culture of India.
Birkenstocks are about more than memories and comfort: they’re about a sense of community. Most people won’t naturally start a conversation with someone just because that person is wearing Nike shoes, but Birkenstocks are conversation starters. This creates a certain bond among Birkenstock wearers. Johnson remarks, “I feel like it helps me to find my people—people who see the world in a similar way and people that I can relate to.”

Katie Pitts