Fashion has a habit of trolling us with outrageous garments. Crotchless trousers, see-through jeans, ridiculously expensive designer paper clips… All of the aforementioned are very real items sold in the not-too-distant past. But I'd wager no piece garners as much controversy as Crocs. They are, undeniably, a divisive topic of conversation and easily the most Marmite shoes of the modern world. I hate to break it to you, but they've made a real dent in 2021, and I know a lot of people aren't happy about this. When researching this piece, I decided to ask our readers over on the So… Should I Buy This? Facebook group if they love or loathe Crocs, and almost unanimously, over 60 people replied loathe. As one member so eloquently put it, "The little holes are where your dignity seeps out."
The thing is, I can't seem to get it out of my head that, when styled right, they actually look good. First, I saw U.S. editor Laurel Pantin wearing the white Crocs with strawberry print last summer, and I thought they looked cute worn with jeans and a T-shirt. These even became so popular they sold out. But then, there were others. Out came the über-cool influencers who wore bold yellow Crocs with bright-orange jackets or with purple dresses and beige blazers. Suddenly, Crocs became cool.
This surge in popularity isn't just anecdotal or some kind of delirium brought on by too much Instagram. According to global fashion search platform Lyst's 2020 report, these shoes were the eighth most-wanted item in the world last year, with average monthly searches for Crocs hitting a total of 135,000. True, our response to dressing during the pandemic has meant we've steered towards more comfortable pieces—it's no surprise that Birkenstock's Arizona sandals are number two on that list or that Nike's joggers are fourth. Then in April, it was revealed the Crocs has experienced growing online sales. According to the BBC, sales "rose by 75.3% in the first quarter and made of a third of total sales for the period." The Guardian reports it reached £331M in sales "just days after a gold pair of Crocs appeared on the Oscars red carpet, sported by musician Questlove, the awards' musical director." And now, it's being reported that sales of Crocs have gone crazy thanks to the cast of this year's Love Island choosing them as their footwear of choice.
Of course, this isn't the first time fashion has tried to make Crocs popular, but it's probably the most successful. Both Christopher Kane in 2017 and Balenciaga in 2018 created high-fashion versions of the shoes, with the former offering marbled and bejewelled Crocs and the latter offering a platform style in bright block colours. However, this time, influencers love them, as do the A-list. Ariana Grande, Pharrell Williams and Justin Bieber have been seen wearing the trustiest of squeaky flats. Not to mention those aforementioned gold versions. We already know the fashion industry loves Crocs, so now with the Instagram crowd and celebrities on board, we've reached the holy trinity and the tipping point for a trend to go mainstream, which clearly is the case.
While I realise that it's still going to take a bit to win some people over, I think this reader's comment sums it up: "I'll probably see them loads on Insta over springtime styled really well, and by summer, I'll have converted and be wearing them." And that, dear readers, is how fashion works. Keep scrolling to see Crocs in action. Then, go on to see the ones you can shop right now.