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What the Croc?

Crocs are often considered to be one of the ugliest shoes in existence. I do not believe they have ever been in fashion, but perhaps times are changing. Marketed towards the consumer for being both comfortable and lightweight, and being released in a variety of colours, the classic clog is instantly recognisable. But the company behind them has branched out to produce a wide range of shoes, sandals, runners and even heels. Traditional croc clogs are made from a rubber-like material, hence the need for holes to allow for airflow. The material is described on the brand’s website as a closed-cell resin that is trademarked as Croslite technology. For full disclosure, I have never tried on a pair of crocs and cannot attest to their comfort, and this seems to be their main selling point. They are synonymous with travel, frequently seen at the beach or on tourists wandering around on city breaks.

The fashion world seem to be attempting to change our opinion on crocs. Crocs are labelled as ugly but practical, whereas “fashionable” shoes are often pretty and impractical. It is not high street fashion where we are seeing this change in perspective with regards to crocs, but instead with the luxury brands. Arguably luxury brands and high end couture is depicted by some to be “ugly” or crazy, and not to be seen in ones everyday life. Here a paradox occurs: something that is both unusual to the fashion world, as a practical comfortable item, yet it remains described as repulsive to the fashionable.

Spring/Summer 2018 is fast approaching, with key trends being forecasted, one of whom is Crocs. In October 2017 designer Demna Gvasalia, from Balenciaga, collaborated with Crocs for their Spring 2018 collection. They produced colourful platform crocs adorned with simple raised embellishments, such as a flags, roses and the designers’ name. Balenciaga has labelled the crocs the ‘Foam Shoes’ with a 10cm platform. When the runway show was originally seen back in October, many laughed at the so-called “ridiculousness” of the shoes. But the crocs have sold out, going in mere hours online Stateside. They were available to pre-order on Barney’s website, and have yet to arrive in stores. Keep in mind these designer crocs will set you back $850!  On their European website Balenciaga’s crocs range in price from €350-695.  This is not the first time Balenciaga has taken an everyday item and turned it into ‘fashion’; controversy arose early in 2017 when people noticed how similar one of their handbags looked to the blue Ikea Frakta bag. While Ikea’s bag cost $0.90, Balenciaga’s costed $1125. Furthermore, Balenciaga launched scrunchies as part of their Resort 2018 collection for €140 each.

Balenciaga is not the only designer to work with the footwear brand. Christopher Kane also worked with Crocs for his Spring/Summer 2017 show, with the runway taking place in September 2016. Kane’s crocs featured stone crystals with a marbled background. Others included crocs lined with fur, with some costing up to €325 on the luxury brand website Farfetch. Then in 2017, Christopher Kane worked with crocs again to create a more affordable option. This collection, entitled ‘Christopher Kane x Crocs’, featured four tiger print clogs. The shades included avocado, white, honey and ochre. These versions were far cheaper, at a more accessible price of €69.99. With two major fashion brands backing them, will we soon see crocs in our favourite Penneys or River Island?   

Perhaps they are a new part of the ‘anti-fashion’. Vetements, one of the leading anti-fashion brands, takes a similar role in attempting to turn fashion on its head. Balenciaga and Vetements share the designer that brought us the new platform crocs, Demna Gvasalia, after all. Arguing that fashion does not equate to glamour and beauty anymore, and that it shouldn’t have to. Vetements’ clothing style is predominantly streetwear but with an edge. The edge can take the position of alternative versions of fashion. Vetements faced a little controversy, as they advertised a lighter for $290. Another example of taking an everyday item and making it elusive and unattainable…

The classic clog costs €34.99 on their european website, while Balenciaga’s cost more than 18 times that. Plus, with the news that the infamous shoes have sold out on Barney’s website, they may be more in demand than ever before. The fashion world is enthralled by their emergence, which will thus further their popularity. It begs the question; if society places a high price tag on an item, does it become vastly more desirable? It’s interesting how fashion can turn something easily accessible, cheap and generally unpopular into something unattainable and coveted.