The CROCS Debate


By Irene Feeney Steele


Love them or hate them – Crocs – the Marmite of footwear (even dubbed as having a ‘contraceptive’ effect!), are everywhere right now. There is no escaping the divisive ‘fugly’ shoe whether or not you despise them or have given in and now an advocate of the coolest clog on the planet these days. Crocs get a bad rep a lot of the time. Everyone has seen the meme – “if Monday’s were shoes, they would be Crocs!” - but personally, I am a massive Crocs fan, they are THE most comfortable shoes I own and I will fight their corner at every given opportunity. Comfort any day, over squeezing my tootsie’s into heels wins most of the time and if they’re good enough for Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, Kendall Jenner, Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams, Post Malone and Drew Barrymore – then they are certainly good enough for me.


Once named amongst Time Magazine’s ’50 Worst Inventions’, Crocs are dare I say it…having the last laugh right now. The plastic clogs are currently in such high demand, they are actually giving trainers a run for their money with British Vogue recently declaring Crocs as the seasons ‘It-shoe.’ Sales skyrocketed during the pandemic (up more than 60%) with so many people working from home that saw comfort winning the style stakes. Whilst the pandemic forced the company to close all it’s stores – online sales soared and Crocs received worldwide attention for giving away more than 910,000 pairs of Crocs to front-line health care workers. They came up with the ambitious ‘Free Pair for Healthcare’ initiative giving away 10,000 pairs of shoes every day to people working on the front lines of the COVID pandemic in the U.S, Canada and Europe.


Being accessible to toddlers, trendy teens and even grandparents is genius in maintaining brand awareness and as a clever marketing tool. But one of the biggest factors in the resurgence of Crocs has been the impact it has had on Gen Z and in particular on TikTok and Instagram. When Nicki Minaj posted a picture of herself on Instagram wearing a pair of hot pink, bedazzled Crocs customised with Jibbitz (the bespoke charms made my Crocs which are inserted into the holes) – the post caused the Crocs website to crash and saw a 4,900% spike in a search for pink Crocs. Tiktok influencers including Kelli Erdmann have also added to the Crocs phenomenon regularly posting dance Tiktoks wearing her customised heeled clogs whilst a recent collaboration with Justin Bieber saw his lavender Crocs adorned with chipmunk and teddy bear Jibbitz charms – quickly sell out. Collaborating with Balenciaga on an $850 platform clog saw Crocs levelling up on the ‘coolness’ playing field catapulting them into a brand to be reckoned with.


Let’s give it up to Crocs though, for turning a shoe which made its debut over 20 years ago at a Florida Boat Show as a clunky shoe - easy to clean, quick-drying and antimicrobial - into one of the most sought after coolest shoes on the block right now! Even the harshest critics around are playing into the Crocs empire. The more people criticize the brand and declare they would “rather die” than wear them (I see you Victoria Beckham!) – the more it plays into their hands, creating attention and media which is all good news for the brand.


The most prized possession in the Crocs company’s hands right now is Gen Z and they have them firmly on their side. From adorned Jibbitz styles, crazy patterns, heeled styles and ‘crocs with socks’ – today’s teenagers and 20 something’s (plus me – the random 40-ish year old) are rocking their Crocs, championing comfort and bringing the brand from strength to strength. Crocs are the eight-most popular brand amongst U.S. teenagers right now (up from 38 in 2017) according to a Piper Sandler survey and tonnes of retailers across the globe have copycat versions in display online and in their stores.


So if you’re a fan or not – they are here to stay and not going anywhere anytime soon. Will you be converted?


Remember…’once you Croc, you can’t stop!’