The worst day of my life was July 4th, 2008. Up until this point there had only been one brand of sandals, nay, footwear in general, to grace the tiny soles of my 8 year-old feet. What were these incredible shoes, you ask? The king of clogs, sultan of slippers, ruler of rubber, the umph in umphibious, the “see ya later alligator”, Guy Fieri’s favorite shoe: Crocs. Crocs were, and have been since their advent in 2002, the best thing you can put on your feet. So, when during the summer before 2nd grade, my mom completely outlawed the shoe from our household because they were “too ugly,” and “not an appropriate choice for my dad to let me wear to Mimi’s funeral,” I was devastated. From the comforting ridges that populate the insole section, to the never-ending variety of Jiblits to customize your pair, Crocs were my ideé fixe. In the decade since our mandated divorce, I’ve had little contact with my “ones who got away,” but as I’ve now escaped the tyrannical, sartorial policies of my mother, I’ve been able to reunite, and it seems to be at no better time.
The shoe more and more has been making moves towards the mainstream of fashion, and every indication suggests that this play might work. It started in October 2017 with the brand’s collaboration with Balenciaga to create the especially opulent, Platform Croc. Balenciaga, of course, is now known for their satirical, over the top interpretations of “fashion no-nos.” But this sardonic approach hasn’t stopped the brand from achieving commercial success, see their Triple S shoe, originally a comic take on the Dad Shoe that is now immensely popular. Following the runway, in 2018 Crocs released a closed-toe clog with flame designs around the front, a clear reference to both the iconography of Guy Fieri and the similarly ironic internet popularity of the flame design. Now, even celebrities are starting to catch on, especially those who tend to dress precociously close to the edge of oncoming trends. Since just mid-September, Justin Bieber has worn Crocs thrice. Thrice! Yes, the Croc is to some extent a joke, but is it? As the shoe’s visibility increases, its irony begins to matter less and less, and soon enough we may see a full-blown trend.
The public has widely made up their mind as to how it feels about Crocs, The sandals have become a sort of memetic symbol for what can best be described as “chaotic good.” And despite their being the butt of the joke, it seems the semi-sarcastic appreciation is what has kept them so iconic almost 20 years on. Crocs are on the verge of a serious comeback, and are nearly shedding their veil of ironic detachment to become a serious trend. While it may seem far-fetched, this is the exact trajectory that several other sandals specifically have followed in becoming mainstream successes today. The Birkenstock and Chaco were once often regarded as “Moses 1’s” and jokingly associated with a sort of lazy, terribly unfashionable, Germanic socks-with-sandals look. In the age of Postmodernity though, everything is subject to pastiche as it were, which, of course, when adopted widely enough leads to sincere affection.
In some ways, the Croc is the perfect shoe for this era. Beyond its material style and comfort-superiority that I have explained above, it serves as a symbol for the ideological movement towards new sincerity. It’s easy to point and laugh at the man wearing Crocs so as to say, “I’m well adjusted, I understand the status quo of footwear,” but never will we be truly free till we can admit to ourselves, Jiblits are fucking cool. Crocs aren’t trying to be something they aren’t. They’re comfortable, loud, and at the same time humble. As Crocs start to pop up more and more in the coming seasons, you will be presented with a choice: point and laugh at the man secure and comfortable in his cozy rubber clogs, or join in and commend his authenticity. Choose vulnerability, choose Crocs.