David Kahan, CEO, Birkenstock Americas
David Kahan has a long history in the sporting goods, athletic apparel, and footwear industry, having started in a part-time sales position in Macy’s while in College. After graduating, David went through the Macy’s Executive Training Program and eventually became Macy’s first ever Athletic Footwear Buyer. He likes to say he “went from working 15 hours a week in the store to 15 hours a DAY.” He is credited with launching the Macy’s Athletic Club, which became the largest department store retailer of athletic footwear, apparel, and accessories in the US. The success of this concept was featured in numerous magazines including the New York Times.
He was hired by Nike and became one of the youngest managers in the company and was part of implementing a Strategic Accounts Management process, which became the industry standard. David eventually became Head of Reebok North America, managing a $1.6b business and was part of the leadership team when the Adidas Group acquired the company in 2006.
Following this acquisition, David was part of the integration team that helped combine the two organizations, and was given leadership responsibility for the Rockport brand, which introduced him to the “brown shoe” world.
David assumed responsibility in 2013 for the Birkenstock brand in the USA. As David says, “We are the stewards of a brand that is now over 240 years old and dates back to a small village in Germany. In a world where fast fashion has become so widely accepted, we are the polar opposite - we remain steadfast in our commitment to quality, handmade engineering, and the values that are consistent with a fine German-manufactured brand. We never compromise our brand values and we believe consumers are drawn to us because they share an emotional connection with our amazing brand and our products which give them healthy benefits.”
David now is the Chief Executive Officer of Birkenstock Americas and is largely credited with helping to engineer the unprecedented breakthrough Birkenstock has experienced over the past eight years.
David serves on the boards of the FDRA (Footwear Distributors and Retailers of America), the Two Ten Foundation (the charitable organization for the footwear industry), and FFANY (Fashion Footwear Association of New York).