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I’ve owned a pair of Birkenstock Boston clogs ever since I was in high school. The strict dress code at my private school required leather footwear and I’ve never been a fan of what most students chose to wear, Sperry Top-Siders. Subsequently, I’ve used them as professional shoes when I worked in an office, and in my day-to-day life as they match with most outfits. But despite how awesome Birkenstock clogs are, their price tag of $145 may steer some buyers towards imitation versions, some of which are available at retailers like Amazon and Walmart.
While I’m a Birkenstock loyalist and believe that they’re worth every penny, I was curious to see how a knockoff version of the clogs would compare to the real deal. I found a cheap pair that looked as close to the Bostons as possible, with many of the hallmarks of real Birkenstocks: suede fabric, a cork footbed, and an EVA outsole. I grabbed the $39.99 unisex-sized TF Star Boston knockoff clogs, which has a 4-star average rating based on1,467 reviews from Amazon. Are they a worthy competitor to the real-deal Birkenstock Boston clogs?
How I tested the Birkenstock knockoff clogs
To see if the knockoffs were on par with my beloved Boston clogs, I wore them every day while I was undergoing IVF treatments. Safe to say, my ankles and feet were super swollen, so it was a good time to test and assess shoes that purport to be comfortable. While wearing them, I took note of how quickly they molded to my foot, as Birkenstocks generally take two weeks to a month to break in with daily wear. I also noted how fast the materials became weathered, as suede can quickly lose its good looks. Most importantly, I noted how comfortable the clogs were as I slogged back and forth to early morning appointments, as well as while wearing them around the house.
Which clog looks and feels better?
The differences between traditional Birkenstock Boston clogs and the knockoff TF Star dupes are stark. First, the dupe just looks and feels cheap.
The knockoffs’ cork and suede started deteriorating from the first wear. In comparison, the cork on the Birkenstock clogs is coated with a thick sealant that ensures it’ll last a long time, and although the suede wears in, it continues to look great as it ages.
Another gripe is that you can usually wear Bostons without socks, but when I tried that with the knockoff version, it gave me a blister on the side of my foot. The suede lining on the footbed is clearly of lower quality and rubs your foot as you walk.
I noticed that the TF Star’s so-called ergonomic footbed does not mold to your feet in the same way as Birks. It’s not uncomfortable per se, but it is nowhere close to the classic Birkenstock soft footbed, which hugs your foot once it breaks in. This is likely because the Birkenstock footbed is lined with high-quality suede. The suede upper on these knockoffs weathered quickly and looked dingy after a short trip between the car and the clinic during a slight drizzle. The stiffer suede also crinkles at the instep after just a few wears. The buckle looks cheap and scratches easily, and the back of the heel wears down almost immediately. The TF Stars do run true to size, which is a small positive, but overall I’m not a fan of these dupes.
Which clog should you get?
Which clog you should get depends on how you intend to use them. If you’re just looking for something inexpensive to wear around the house, the TF Star version could work OK for you—provided you also wear socks. However, if you’re looking for something that is really going to last and you’ll get a ton of wear out of—and make your feet happy in the process—the authentic Birkenstock clogs are the way to go. These are shoes that will last you years and will only get more comfortable with regular wear.
It’s important to note that the original Birkenstock Boston clogs (especially the suede version) stretch out quite a bit as you wear them, so it’s best to size down a full two sizes. They’re sized as “unisex,” which really means “men’s,” and they run wide to begin with. The shoes come in a narrow width, too, which may be better if your foot runs narrow to keep them from flopping around too much and putting you in danger of tripping.
Should you try the knockoff Birkenstocks?
The one thing the knockoff version had going for it was that the sizing was far more accurate than the Birkenstock Boston clogs. For reference, I am usually a women’s size 7 and have to size down to a 5 (or EU 36) in the Birkenstock version. I bought a size 7 in the TF Star knockoffs and it fit perfectly.
I was not impressed with the TF Stars, but if you’re unsure you’ll like the style and don’t want to pay $145 to find out, they might be a decent shoe for a trial run—just don’t expect them to last very long!
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.