Has there been a shoe more hated than Crocs? The shoe's been on the receiving end of fashion criticism and countless stink pieces for its, let's say, unique design. It's a clog. It's a slipper. It's made of some kind of plastic.
Started in 2002 by Lyndon Hanson and George Boedecker, Jr., Crocs began after the two had learned of an antimicrobial resin foam developed by a company called Foam Creations. They used this newly-developed injection-moulded foam to make their first shoe, a waterproof boat shoe design called the Beach. They introduced the shoe at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show (because, of course) and sold through 200 units they'd produced at the time.
The shoes were a huge success and have since sold hundreds of millions around the world.
Despite several precarious economic climates, the brand seems to be recession-proof. In 2008, just as the last recession began, Crocs lost a reported $185M, cut approximately 2,000 jobs and closed dozens of stores around the world. This left the company with hundreds of thousands of surplus stock and many thought that this spelled the end of the brand. But, Crocs eventually bounced back.
Time and time again, Crocs seems to buoy back to the surface, and not just financially. From the beginning, the shoes have had a loyal following thanks to their comfort and functionality. The year's since Crocs' introduction, the brand has withstood a gauntlet of ridicule and fashion hazing only to nab coveted collaborations with high-profile brands like Balenciaga, Pleasures, Beams and even KFC, to be regarded as a modern-day classic, a story not dissimilar to Birkenstock.
It's inspired imitations, homages and high-end reproductions. Today, the Merrell Hydro Moc is the subject of fashion circles, thanks in part to Kanye's Foam Runner, but bears much resemblance to the original. Crocs had to crawl so West could run.
Now, the maelstrom of derision toward Crocs has largely become placid. Maybe the Hydro Moc is just one step too far for you. Or maybe you prefer a close-toed summer shoe that works for the pool, not a pair of flip flops. Whatever your reasons, you can't seem to look away and are actually considering purchasing a pair (oh god). So, should you? Here are the pros and cons.
Crocs are featherlight, especially compared to the Goodyear-welted dumbbells we usually talk about. They use a proprietary material they call Croslite, a "foamable EVA (ethylene-vinyl acetate)" which is expands in a mould. The foaming process is what makes the shoes so light, which is ideal if you plan on being on your feet for a while. The innovative material also makes them...
There aren't many who'll fight back on how comfortable Crocs are. The EVA material isn't just lightweight, but it also moulds to your feet. They were at one point listed as an accepted shoe by the American Podiatric Medical Association and are seen on the feet of many people who work in demanding jobs which require all-day standing.
Waterproof and Breathable
The signature whack-a-mole surface of the Classic Clog is what gives Crocs its distinct look. They also allow your feet to breathe and water to drain easily, making them an ideal summer shoe.
Easy to Clean
Because they're waterproof, that also makes them easy to clean. Soap and water is all you need to maintain Crocs whereas other shoes require special cleaning agents, brushes and polishes to restore their pre-spill glory.
The Crocs Classic Clog costs just $45. That's about three times cheaper than a pair of Birkenstock Bostons, the opaque competitor and driving force behind the @muleboyz movement.
Despite its many twists and turns, Crocs as a company has managed to stay afloat, just like its shoes. Its a publicly-traded company, and, since the start of the pandemic, Crocs' stocks have risen by about 300 percent. So while you may or may not slide into a pair of its clogs, you could buy CROX stocks and get a return.
While Crocs won't cost you much financially, they could cost you your reputation. This archived article from the Washington Post compares them to 'chopped off garden shoes'. There's also this lovely Facebook group has over a million people united against Crocs. And of course, there's always those closest to you who can and will give you flack for wearing shoes who's cousin is Swiss cheese.
If you're looking for a shoe that you can take to your local cobbler to have resoled, you're probably not reading this article. Crocs are (surprise, surprise) not a Goodyear-welted shoe and will require you to buy more of them as they wear out.
While some call it an icon, others argue that it's staying power is what actually works against them. In other words, specifically the words of Chris Black, partner at brand consultancy Public Announcement, to the New York Times, "It's played out."
So, Should You Buy Crocs?
Yes. Yes, you should buy Crocs.
Like many so-called staple pieces and iconic garments, Crocs achieved its status because of its utility. The shoes are extremely practical, even if they're totally goofy. They've been praised by many non-fashion types for their comfort and waterproofness and proven themselves in the field, much like a pair of Goodyear welted boots.
Though it may not be what we normally think of as a classic look, the saying goes that "form follows function". And if you're looking for a pair of shoes that have put in the time and get the job done, Crocs are it.