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Divisive fashion: do you rock with crocs?

Written by Thea Suer

Crocs. Just like Marmite, you either love them or hate them. Personally, I’m a lover. Your dad probably has a pair, your dentist and in 2022, even Nicki Minaj! Objectively the rubber clogs are rather ugly and industrial but recently they have stormed the high-fashion world.

Crocs were originally launched in 2002 for the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show as waterproof grip boating shoes. Despite the shoe falling into the athleisure bracket, in order to broaden their horizons in 2006, Crocs shifted their brand ethos and USP to that of an eco-friendly and practical shoe for the masses. At this point, Crocs definitely ran down the vein of ‘function over form’, with healthcare providers, gardeners, dads and toddlers as their main consumer market.

In 2010 however, Crocs bore witness to an immense drop in sales. The company was on the brink of extinction and bankruptcy. This decline was further bruised by its feature in the TIME magazine list of 50 worst inventions in 2010, alongside the likes of “Hair in a Can” and “Electrical Facial Mask”. Luckily, Christopher Kane entered onto the scene as a knight in shining armour in 2016 with his partnership with Crocs in the London Fashion week SS17. From this point on, sales snowballed.

Collaborations with pop-culture celebrities and brands became the hallmark of Crocs. Balenciaga curated a Crocs boot, platform and heel which now sell for around £700-1000 compared to the humble “Classic Clog” at £39.99. The transition from the practical ‘dad’ shoe to high-fashion art piece seems absurd but points to avant-gardist fashion movements and transcends popular fast-fashion markets occupied by Boohoo and Misguided for example. Post Malone, like me, is an avid Crocs lover and rightly so. To quote one of his songs, he could definitely “Go flex” in his Crocs. In 2018, his crocs collaboration sold out in just two minutes and he quite profoundly tweeted “u can tell a lot about a man by the Jibbitz in his Crocs”. In this year, Crocs took the 13th spot of the most popular footwear brands globally for teens.

The brand has merited off its simplicity, making it a blank canvas for celebrities to advertise their image on. The plain shoe can also be embellished with jibbitz that certainly add to the playful element of the shoe and also serve as great birthday presents. The divisive shoe kickstarts ‘hot’ or ‘not’ conversations and attracts public attention making this company reach multi-billion revenues. Its current net worth sits at a stonking $5.97 billion in November 2022 which is 5 times greater than in 2012. It also has profited off the internet’s humouring of it- such as the ‘sports’ and ‘relax’ mode meme that marks whether the heel strap is up or down. I am in relaxation mode all day, every day. It is evident that Crocs can attribute its world-domination mainly to the internet. For example, Nicki Minaj posted a picture in her bright pink crocs which caused google searches to rise 4900% for the spectacular shoe.

It also spans contemporary philosophies. The footwear is non-gendered so links to gender neutral fashion that severs the womenswear and menswear binary categorisation. It seems everyone wants the ‘it shoe’ whether it’s for irony, practicality, or glamour. For me, they are far from a crime against fashion and the pizza slice jibbitz is at the top of my Christmas list!

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