Diplo's summer sandals and Balenciaga's Spring 2022 collaborations cap another peak week for Crocs, which is enjoying a truly remarkable year thus far. Record revenue and co-signs from celebs and tastemakers alike have all but guaranteed Crocs' continued relevance. Still, their enduring divisiveness begs the question: how long can Crocs keep riding the anti-fashion wave?
Crocs both overcame and leaned into its divisiveness to become an enduring semi-ironic staple, thanks in no small part to that initial Balenciaga co-sign. The luxury label's latest clog remix takes Crocs in truly avant directions with exquisitely insane, treaded pumps and comparatively reasonable Croslite boots. Offered in hues of green, pink, gray, and black, this footwear lineup is a testament to Crocs' everlasting (and self-aware) weirdness, the innate "ugliness" baked into every pair.
High-heeled Crocs are obviously deranged, but that's exactly the point. The juxtaposition of a seemingly elegant silhouette with clunky clogs epitomizes an anti-luxury luxury ethos that neatly dovetails with the brand identities of both Balenciaga and Crocs. But can Crocs keep “getting away with it,” drawing headlines for sheer WTF-factor alone?
On one hand, yes. The parade of fashionable collaborations exemplifies the simple truth that Crocs are no longer the ugly duckling they once were, as mainstream tastes shift and what was once verboten is now very normal. Consider the Bae silhouette, which couldn't have existed a decade ago. A fashion-forward Croc targeting young women? Puh-leeze. But this is a post-normcore, post-irony industry. One where Crocs are as cool as Birkenstocks, UGGs, and Von Dutch.
It helps that Crocs are some of the comfiest shoes around. Their cushioned footbeds and easy-on styling made them a natural fit for the pandemic-wrought WFH era, all but wedging Pandora's ugly shoebox open for good.
Despite their semi-normalization, however, the funnily freakish nature of the collaborative Crocs always draws eyeballs. Crocs have gone from the butt of the joke to the coolest clogs in town and still lack a genuine "cool" factor. Sure, Crocs owns its tongue-in-cheek popularity, but even its nuttiest new looks retain that love-it-or-hate-it shape.
Crocs can stay the course from here, continuing to cook up oddball offerings and in-line styles with the comfort of knowing that it has an existing customer base with or without the approval of influential partners. Problems may arise if a competitor is ever able to out-Croc Crocs, however. Without the heritage of Birkenstock or authentic cool of, say, Nike, Crocs may find it challenging to re-position its oeuvre, should prevailing tastes shift — after all, there are plenty of potential usurpers and would-be challengers out there.
Crocs’ indestructible resin shell runs the risk of outlasting the ugly-cool appeal of its high-fashion and celebrity collabs, but as long as there are shoppers seeking easy shoes or service professionals desiring all-day comfort, Crocs will keep on clogging on.