Birkenstock Birko Flor vs Leather (Which Should You Choose?)

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Last Updated on April 21, 2022

Leather is a durable material that has been used for shoes for centuries. Birkenstock traditionally uses nubuck leather for their classic sandals, but what if you want a vegan alternative?

Well, you can now purchase many of the brand’s shoes in a synthetic material called Birko Flor. Unlike leather, this is cruelty-free and perfect for vegetarians.

But, what are the main differences between traditional leather and Birko Flor? Keep on reading to find out how these materials differ and which you should purchase.

Key Differences Between Leather And Birko Flor

When it comes to the uppers of a pair of Birkenstocks, you want it to be durable yet comfortable. But, when you’re checking out some new sandals, which material should you choose?

Here are the key differences to look for:

  • Oiled leather is soft, yet not as shiny. If you don’t care so much about flashy shoes this is a great option.
  • Birko Flor is a tear-resistant material, allowing it to last for years.
  • Some leathers will need to be broken in, this doesn’t happen with Birko Flor.
  • Suede can wear out very fast if it’s not protected (even when used on the footbed).
  • Birko Flor is easier to clean, however, it won’t last as long as genuine leather.

Leather v.s. Birko Flor Shoe Comparisons

Unsure which shoe is best for you? Here’s a complete guide to whether you should buy leather or Birko Flor Birkenstock sandals.



When it comes to style, genuine leather offers a certain look that can’t be replicated. If you want a traditional style that will always be in fashion, try genuine leather.

– Birko Flor

With any synthetic leathers, you will usually be able to see that they’re not genuine. This isn’t a bad thing, just note that the material often appears more smooth than its counterparts.

– Winner of this category: Leather

At the end of the day, it’s hard to beat the genuine leather.

Try the Soley Ring-Buckle Natural Leather for a stylish heeled sandal.

The Fit


Since shoemakers have been experimenting with leather for centuries, the formula to get a good fit with this material is known well. Though you do have to break the leather in, once this period is over you can trust your shoes will fit like a glove.

Birko Flor

Birko Flor is a new material, so the recipe for a good fit isn’t as solid as genuine leather yet. While this material works well for some, I found that genuine leather still feels better when worn.

Winner of this category: Leather

When the fit is concerned, you should always go for a tried and trusted style. The fit of leather sandals has been perfected for years. Especially once your sandal is worn in, you can trust this shoe will be perfect for your foot size and width.

Try the Kumba Oiled Leather for a good fit and ankle support with three straps.

Comfort and Arch Support

– Leather

A key perk of leather is its ability to be strong yet smooth at the same time. This strength supports your foot arch and prevents any damage to your feet or posture. Leather can also be finished in a soft fashion, ensuring comfort too.

– Birko Flor

Birko Flor is designed to imitate leather, but without the durable hides used in leather production, this material will always seem slightly flimsy. This isn’t a bad thing, it’s just important to note if you plan to wear these sandals often.

– Winner of this category: Leather

Arch support and general comfort are two of the most important aspects of shoe design. Once again, leather is the best material for these categories as the material is strong enough to hold your arch, yet soft enough to feel comfortable during use.

Try the Arizona Platform Microfiber with suede leather for a comfortable option.


– Leather

As a material, leather is durable and aesthetically pleasing. The only downside is that you have to take more care of it than a synthetic alternative.

– Birko Flor

Birko Flor is another impressive material, especially because it doesn’t use any animal products. This material can be created in many colors and it can also offer different finishes too.

– Winner of this category: A Tie

Both shoe materials offer a range of unique benefits and drawbacks. However, in this case, they tie! The true best material depends on each wearer’s preference.

For a Birko Flor classic opt for the Arizona Birko Flor or try the Arizona Soft Footbed in suede leather.


– Leather

If leather is known for one quality, it’s how durable it is. This material can take a lot of strain over the years but it’ll still be standing.

– Birko Flor

Unlike leather, Birko Flor does disintegrate over time. As this is a synthetic material, it will slowly get weaker with use.

– Winner of this category: Leather

Leather has been the go-to material for shoes, bags, and furniture for years. This is simply because of the durability of this material. If you want a product to last, buy it in leather.

Try the Kairo Oiled Leather sandal for a durable shoe with back strap support.


– Leather

Have you ever picked up a leather bag or a pair of leather shoes? This material is robust and heavy. This is great for shoes that you wear every now and then, but if you want a light daily shoe it might be uncomfortable.

– Birko Flor

One key quality of Birko Flor is its lightweight feel. Though it’s made to mimic leather, it’s also designed to be light and comfortable to wear.

– Winner of this category: Birko Flor

If a pair of sandals are light and comfortable, they’re more enjoyable to walk in. Out of these two materials, Birko Flor is the best for weight by a mile.

Try the Madrid Birko Flor for a lightweight summer shoe.

Size and Color Range

– Leather

Though you can buy leather in a range of colors and sizes, this material comes from organic matter and has limitations. You can find leather in different hues, but the brighter the color the more you’ll have to pay.

– Birko Flor

Birko Flor is a man-made material. This means it’s easier to dye, print, or adapt. When you shop for synthetic products you’ll be met with a wider range of colors and sizes.

– Winner of this category: Birko Flor

When you’re shoe shopping, it’s always good to have lots of choices. Though there is an abundance of leather styles, you have more options when you opt for synthetic materials.

Try the Gizeh Birko Flor for a summer print sandal and read my review of the Gizeh sandal.

Leather v.s Birko Flor: The Winner

After wearing both shoes, leather is the obvious winner. As companies are still developing leather alternatives, leather still reigns supreme as the most reliable shoe material. However, if you’re a vegan or want to avoid animal skins, Birko Flor is still a trusted shoe material that’s available in a range of styles too.

Check Out: Birkenstock vs Viking Sandals: Fashion Or Functionality, We Decide

What do you think about Birkenstock leather? Would you try Birko Flor shoes? Let us know!