Back in the summer of 2020 I wrote a piece for a design course I’m currently undertaking detailing why ‘Crocs’ (despite their commercial success with people who exclusively wear them to take the bins out) were a poorly designed product. Flash forward to summer 21’ and I am proudly strolling down my town centre with a pair of Crocs x thisisneverthat clogs slung around my toes.
Dieter Rams is the head of design at Bruan and has a career spanning sixty years. He is one of the most highly respected designers on earth and it isn’t only his innovative creations he is renowned for. He also created the design principles that have guided designers since the 50’s, these are summarised as the ten guiding principles of good design.
Good design is unobtrusive
Good design is honest
Good design makes a product useful
Good design helps us to understand a product
Good design is innovative
Good design is aesthetic
Good design is long lasting
Good design is concerned with the environment
Good design is consequent to the last detail
Goo design is as little design as possible
Crocs meet none of Rams criteria yet have been a mainstay on the foot of racist uncles and granny’s with swollen ankles for close to two decades. Love them or loathe them Crocs are reasonably inexpensive and easily accessible, coupled with the fact that they genuinely feel good on your foot is enough for any person to use these as the footwear of choice for unlaborious daily chores. This is all in spite of the fact that countless experts have spoken on the issues of wearing Crocs for sustained periods of time. Dr. Megan Leahy, a Chicago-based podiatrist told the Huffington Post “(Crocs) offer nice arch support,” ... but “these shoes do not adequately secure the heel. When the heel is unstable, toes tend to grip which can lead to tendonitis, worsening of toe deformities, nail problems, corns and calluses.” The same can be said for any shoe without heel support although you don’t see waitresses or care home workers wearing flip flops for 14 hours a day 6 days a week. In short don’t wear crocs for sustained periods of time they will fuck up your feet.
Despite the obvious fashion violations and the disregard for the health of the wearers foot the sales of crocs grew. In 2005 a mere 3 years since their inception, bolstered by the advertising campaign ‘Ugly Can Be Beautiful’ Crocs sold upward of 6 million pairs with sale costs of around $108 Million. This figures grew expediently year on year accumulating to an eye watering $1.38 Billion in 2020.
These figures are made all the more impressive considering the fact that Crocs have never tried to conform to latest trends and have backed themselves as the shit house of footwear for years while raking in serious bags. Their basically a fuck you to every other piece of footwear going, ‘Yeah we look like shit, yeah we will literally destroy your feet, what are you going to do about it? Give us your money!’ Which was pretty much their mantra until Christopher Kane came in.
In 2016 the renowned womenswear designer sent chills down every ‘pretentious better than you fashion snob’ when a pair of rubber boat shoes with holes in them rolled down the catwalk during London Fashion Week. This was met with a mixed reaction although mostly CK was applauded for the bold decision. Despite the trend still being a couple years from hitting the streets in the way we have seen it in recent times, this marked the turning point for crocs from picking up dog shit in your back garden to a major catwalk in a European fashion show. Who would have thought it. I can’t wait for Lonsdale slip on trainers to hit Met Gala or a fucking Amazon t-shirt sporting the slogan ‘Save Water, Drink Beer!’ donning a Chanel model at Paris Fashion Week.
The collaborations didn’t stop there with powerhouse brand Balenciaga’s Demna Gvasalia adding his trademark ironic take to Crocs. The platform sole and the birth of the Jibbitz (small buttons placed in the toe holes) took the clogs in a new direction and with this name involved people starting paying attention. The Balenciaga Crocs sold out instantly in the US despite the (fucking insane) $850 price tag. Throughout the last few years we have seen many more collaborations with high fashion and streetwear giants such as Pleasures, Chinatown Market, Alfie and Palace as well some of the more abstract collabs like fast food chain KFC, everyone’s favourite neck beard Post Malone, 80’s rock group KISS and creator of the music’s most catchy, least annoying anthem PSY.
The popularity of Crocs really hit the mainstream for the summer of 2021. This is reinforced through the UK’s most popular TV show amongst young fuck boys and girls, Love Island. The cast were found wearing the infamous clog as their footwear of choice in this year’s season, surely having a knock on effect on what our lads and lasses would have been wearing along the strip in Magaluf this summer should they be lucky enough to make the voyage. Some other popular figures in youth culture were seen sporting the shoe we love to hate including Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber. After musician Questlove wold a golden pair of Crocs on the red carpet of the Oscars, sales peaked at £331 million according to the Guardian.
In an interview with High Snobiety, Crocs senior VP of global product and marketing Michelle Poole said "Collaborations are important to our brand, but to work, they have to be meaningful," she says. "Our clog serves as a blank canvas that can fuel the latest trends or conversations. This is why we think we’re becoming more relevant in the streetwear space.”
As well as the many sick collabs we’ve seen and all your favourite celebrities lounging around in Crocs the last 18 months have seen a notable shift in sales towards loungewear. According to Lyst, the global fashion search platform, crocs were the 8th most wanted fashion item in the world last year with average monthly sales around 135,000, with Birky Arizona’s topping the list and Nike joggers sitting fourth.
Just as Crocs were hitting some commercial success through catwalk appearance and high profile collaborations a worldwide lockdown was enforced, creating the perfect storm for our friends at Croc. I mean who is surprised that the shoe we only wore around the house sky rocketed in popularity when we were bound to the confines of our houses. Yet lockdown is over and mind sets have changed towards the Croc. Either we have all been driven to insanity through 18 months of home schooling and Call of Duty or Crocs are legitimately the footwear of the year!
We truly are living in unprecedented times!