How the Once-Reviled Crocs Are Making a Fashion Comeback

Christopher Kane spring 2018
Christopher Kane spring '18.
Rex Shutterstock

A decade after they peaked in popularity, Crocs are once again hitting the runways — and the shelves.

The famous clog, which has been the subject of both praise and ridicule, reached its peak when it sold 50 million pairs and brought in $850 million in sales in 2007. But since then, the brand, which has made a name by playing up its functionality and perceived ugliness, has struggled with years of sinking sales, and plans to close more than 158 stores in the coming year.

Still, that could be changing. Crocs saw profits rise by more than 54 percent over the last quarter, The Washington Post reports. Brick-and-mortar Crocs stores have also seen a 12 percent increase in foot traffic in the lead-up to back-to-school season and the fall.

Earlier this week, British designer Christopher Kane sent rhinestone-encrusted Crocs down the runway at London Fashion Week in a collaboration with the brand. Vogue also recently named the Croc as one of its 2017 shoe trends.

christopher kane spring 2018 Christopher Kane spring ’18. Rex Shutterstock

“Crocs is starting to turn itself around, even in these very difficult times,” Steven Marotta, an analyst for CL King & Associates, told the Post. “This is a company that has successfully gone back to the basics.”

Analysts interviewed by the newspaper said that Croc resurgence comes from years of the company taking steps to reinvent its branding — moves including closing stores that have not brought in substantial sales, cutting certain sandal and boot styles, and focusing more on the classic foam clog with a single strap and round breathing holes at the front.

christopher kane spring 2018 Styles from Christopher Kane’s runway. Rex Shutterstock

Since its launch in 2002, the style has been eagerly taken up by artists and chefs (famed chef Mario Batali is known for his love of the shoe) for its practicality and ease of cleaning. Throughout Crocs’ lifespan, fashion has sometimes played up their inelegant practicality. Every once in a while, luxury fashion designers turn to the shoe’s exaggerated clunkiness as part of their style.

“Crocs are arguably the most comfortable shoe, I love that they are slightly awkward and might be perceived by some as ‘ugly,'” Kane said in a press statement about his collection. “They have a very naive and childlike shape, which I especially like when they look extra clunky on the foot.”

Christopher Kane spring 2018 Christopher Kane spring ’18. Rex Shutterstock

The original style, which sells for $35 and is also the one most frequently featured in magazines, brings in approximately half of the company’s sales.

“The classic clog has re-emerged as our hero,” Terence Reilly, chief marketing officer of Crocs, told the Post. “Certainly in 2017, there’s been a resurgence.”