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Do We Still Hate Crocs Sandals?

From Fashion Faux Pas To Accepted Footwear Essential

Editorials

Josyula Sanshray
March 15, 2022

Despite being the target of many “ugly” jokes, Crocs have grown into a billion dollar company with staying power that has endured across two decades. Beginning in 2002 they have now sold more than 600 million pairs.

All images via Crocs, Hypebeast, and Highs Nobiety
All images via Crocs, Hypebeast, and Highs Nobiety

Remember the early 2000s when everyone hated Crocs sandals with a passion? The well-hated rubber foam clogs were once known as fashion faux pas likened to ugly “dad shoes”, and were the source of inspiration for many memes. Surprisingly, Crocs have stayed in the market for almost 20 years now, having started in 2002. They have sold more than 600 millions of pairs, even making record-breaking sales the recent quarter, and are one of the world’s top 10 non-athletic shoe brands. Could they be transitioning to become an accepted footwear essential for its comfort and customizable Jibbitz? Or even becoming hype with the interesting collaborations with celebrities like Justin Bieber and big brands like Balenciaga?

Crocs x Justin Bieber with  Drew House collaboration in 2020
Crocs x Justin Bieber with  Drew House collaboration in 2020

When Crocs debuted in 2002, there was nothing like the Danish clog silhouette meets boating shoes purpose meets rubber foam material - and people hated them. The Crocs were nothing like the mainstream fashion styles of the early 2000s like the canvas sneakers from Vans or Converse. The hate knew no bounds, there was even an entire blog aptly named “I Hate Crocs dot com” dedicated to the elimination of the shoes.

Designer Christopher Kane x Crocs
Designer Christopher Kane x Crocs
““Ugly” is relative. We think about it in terms of personal style and democratization of fashion, and no one makes more democratic shoes than Crocs. Whether you love us or hate us – that’s ok, because that means you’re paying attention to us.”
— Heidi Cooley, Crocs Head of Global Marketing

The Crocs company vision is “Everyone comfortable in their own shoes” and their promise is to “take an inherently simple approach to uniting style, modern comfort and value.” With the current pandemic and more people opting for comfortable outfits like sweatpants and loungewear to work from home and attend Zoom meetings in, we see a turn towards adopting a pair of Crocs into their daily outfits. There has also been a resurgence in utility wear such as trousers and jackets, making functional outfits more appealing than simply luxurious clothes that seem a bit gauche during this difficult time.  The shoes are not only made of comfortable Croslite® foam material that are wipe clean and non-slip, but also easy to put on and take off without any shoe laces or straps, making it everyone’s guilty pleasure.

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The ultimate utility wear?  The fully functional Nicole McLaughlin x Crocs

A notable collaboration that was probably the turning point for Croc’s recent rising popularity, was Balenciaga’s neon, high-heeled platform version of Crocs by Demna Gvasalia with branded Jibbitz for their Spring 2018 show. The platforms were a big hit and made it into fashion search platform Lyst’s 10th hottest brands and products lists for 2018 much to the disbelief of many. The embellished pairs were selling for $850 USD per pair, while non-embellished pairs were going for $495. The heels were initially available in pink and khaki ‘toast’, Balenciaga then launched it in black and yellow as well. Later that year, the brands worked together once more with a rubber style stiletto iteration loaded with charms that sold out quickly as well.

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For those who were unfamiliar with high fashion, other popular collaborations that drove the clogs back to the top of mainstream markets were with pop stars and famous artists. Sold out celebrity endorsements with singers include Post Malone, Justin Bieber, and Bad Bunny. Some weird quirky designs were also immensely popular such as the KFC Crocs with fried chicken Jibbitz, Chinatown Market designed Crocs with fake grass, and Nicole McLaughlin X Crocs Campsite Classic Clogs with functional gear.  

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Chinatown Market x Crocs
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KFC x Crocs (right)

Now that the once hated Crocs and Jibbitz that adorn it are starting to look cute, there has been an increase of people posting on social media like TikTok of their customized Jibbitz and them wearing their Crocs at home. Will they become the next “holey grail” in the pandemic closet?

Melanie is a contemporary art enthusiast, writer and cultural research strategist whose practice explores the areas inbetween art, design, commerce and the cult of collecting.