How did Crocs ever become cool and how long will it stay that way?
The musician Questlove showed up on the red carpet at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards in a pair of shimmering gold Crocs, drawing praise across social media as well as wonderment over how the clunky foam clogs have become a fashion statement.
Crocs, which launched as a boat shoe in 2002, became a ubiquitous summer shoe by the time it went public in 2006. The popularity of Crocs was driven by praise from fans for the extreme comfort of the shoes even as they were widely derided over their looks.
The brand’s sales began flattening YoY in the latter part of that decade as the novelty of Crocs wore off. Crocs even landed on Time magazine’s “50 Worst Inventions” list in 2010.
The company closed hundreds of locations, significantly eliminated SKUs to focus on its core clog and slowly began ramping up marketing efforts under CEO Andrew Rees.
Credit for Crocs’ newfound fashion respect is attributed by many to successful collaborations with star musicians including Justin Bieber, Bad Bunny and Post Malone; fashion houses such as Balenciaga; and streetwear labels such as Chinatown Market. Many limited-edition collaborations have quickly sold out.
Crocs’ innovative prints including glitter, camo and Disney/Pixar characters as well extensive range of Jibbitz add-on charms are also said to be ideal for social media sharing. #Crocs has more than 1.5 billion views on TikTok.
Collaborations and social media exposure helped Crocs move to the eighth spot on Piper Sandler’s “Spring 2021 Taking Stock With Teens” survey, up from 12 on last year’s list.
Crocs’ recent strong growth — including a 64 percent gain in the first quarter — is due, in large part, to the trend toward comfort footwear seen during the pandemic. It’s unknown whether comfort will be prioritized to the same degree post-pandemic. Several social media commentators nonetheless praised Questlove’s look for epitomizing pandemic life.
“Questlove’s choice to pair a suit with Crocs is wild, to say the least,” wrote Fabian Gorsler for the fashion website, HighNobility. “It definitely wouldn’t have worked before the pandemic and — if we’re being totally honest with ourselves — it still doesn’t really work now. But we’re at a crossroads in fashion, where the importance of comfort can’t be understated.”
- Crocs, Inc. Reports Record First Quarter Revenue and Raises 2021 Guidance – Crocs, Inc.
- Justin Bieber Solidifies Crocs and Socks as Must-Have Fashion Pairing with Second Collaboration – Crocs, Inc.
- Crocs are not just a house shoe, now they’re a fashion statement – METRO
- We Can’t Believe It, Either: Crocs Are Cool Now – GQ
- How Clogs Clomped Back Into Style (Seriously) – The Wall Street Journal
- Crocs’ billion dollar strategy: Stay ugly – The Washington Post
- Ugly no more: Crocs sales surge – CNN
- Piper Sandler Completes 41st Semi-Annual Generation Z Survey of 7,000 U.S. Teens – Piper Sandler/Business Wire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: How do you explain Crocs’ recent success and its ability to resonate with younger consumers? Is the brand’s momentum being driven by factors that go beyond the pandemic-driven comfort trend?