Ask Janie: To Croc Or Not To Croc?
Esquire's Fashion Director goes on a rant of those large, chunky, foam shoes, punctured with holes that you see lumbering up and down the street every now and then.
Why are Crocs still so popular even though they look like…well… Crocs?
FROM: JANIE CAI
Fashion Director at Esquire Singapore
Just to make it clear, the pair in question is a basic Crocs model, similar to the one shown here. No doubt, the brand has since come out with a whole slew of more wearable lifestyle pieces, but the fact remains that this is the model that we think of whenever Crocs is mentioned. And style-wise, it’s a sartorial blackhole.
Any shoe that makes your foot like an oversized marshmallow will NOT make you look good. I once had a bet with my marketing director Nic who is a hardcore fashionista (and founder of the popular street style blog @garbagelapsap) that if I dyed my hair pink, he would wear crocs. I hadn’t put colour to my hair in a decade but the minute he uttered those words I went to get a double bleach and pink highlights, just to hold him to his word. The look of absolute horror on his face when he saw my fuchsia locks the next day was worth the 8 hours and $500 (I’m still getting my value’s worth by just reminding him of it every now and then and then Snapchatting his expression).
Sure, a pair of Crocs is exceedingly comfortable (for the sake of accuracy, I tried on a pair when they first came out and I tried again recently for this column, they actually did feel like marshmallows without the stickiness). And I can understand why guys working outdoors in occupations such as urban farming and fish-farming might stick to these comfortable, lightweight and waterproof shoes. When I spoke to the folks at Edible Gardens Singapore and asked them, “Why Crocs?” the response was simple—because they are comfortable and dry easily, and perhaps more importantly, if you get them dirty they clean up easily and it’s not as sayang as having your new sneakers dirtied up, plus they offer more protection than flip-flops. But woe betides the man who drops a flowerpot on his foot, even the cushiest of Crocs has its limitations.
You might as well wear cardboard boxes on your feet, at least those will disintegrate steadily, along with any fragile pride, whereas Crocs tend to stick around forever, a rainbow-coloured reminder of the day you completely decided to give up trying to look good. Not unlike a squishy momento mori for the sartorial soul.
Let me just set the record straight—wearing them outside of specific work-related requirements is unacceptable. You know what? Scratch that. Even those whose roles require them to be on their feet all day, like hospital staff (who we shall not judge because they are actually saving lives and are therefore allowed to wear whatever the hell they choose), should not be wearing them.
Just this week the Huffington Post announced in an article (that made me jump for joy!) that the podiatrist they interviewed considered wearing Crocs not all that good for your feet. In fact, Dr. Alex Kor, the president of the American Academy of Podiatric Sports Medicine, told HuffPost that “The only two types of patients that may benefit from wearing Crocs are patients that have a very high arch or those who suffer from excessive edema of their legs and ankle,” and followed up with, “But, under no circumstances can I suggest wearing Crocs 8 to 10 hours per day.” Basically, Crosc will kill you with their comfiness. Ok not actually kill you, but long-term wear will, according to Dr. Kor, negatively affect your mid-shank swag, which will ultimately hurt your feet for real.
So why are Crocs so popular still? Well, they are comfortable. And we Singaporeans love being comfortable. You still see whole families rocking out in their foam Croc shoes. Furthermore, you can get little plug-like adornments for your Crocs (which is what happens when you pay money to make something ugly, even uglier.) These are collectibles help you personalise your pair and the success of these little rubbery bits also boils down to how we love to collect things, since it gives us a reason to shop more.
After all, not everyone will have a pair of oversized red foam clogs with Jibbitz on them, ranging from Frozen’s Olaf the Snowman to the spherical, hairless one-eyed Minions. Also, in case you haven't heard, Crocs aren’t ugly anymore, they have cool new designs that you can actually meet the parents in. And celebrity endorsements help, even if it’s unintentional. For example, when little prince George was seen tottering around in a navy pair, sales of the same pair on Amazon skyrocketed 1,500%, according to this Fortune article. All of which contributes to the stalwart growth of the foam shoe.
Singaporeans are known more for our pragmatism, rather than our sense of style, which means that, sadly yes, Crocs are here to stay. Demand is still strong (i.e people are blind), even if, both Vincenzo of ihatecrocs and I agree that "They are large, chunky, lurid and punctured with holes. They are to your eyes what second-hand smoke is to your lungs". So see you later alligator.
On that note, I've begun putting together a list of stylish alternatives for those who want both comfort and style (yeah, I know right, greedy bastards).