I always had a feeling that Justin Bieber might have a pivotal role to play when the apocalypse came, and now look at what he’s done. In a year engulfed by the coronavirus pandemic, last week’s announcement of a Bieber x Crocs collab appears to be a point of no return.
While I never actually went to Sunday School, plague, pestilence, Crocs being cool … I’m fairly sure it’s all there filed under PANIC! So why is it that I’m now strangely drawn to the foamy clog?
You can’t argue that they provoke opinion. From novelty to confusion, derision to hatred and now ... love. Throw in a few Elvis Costello tracks and you’ve got a perfectly good Working Title movie. But as it turns out, there is a season for all brands. Crocs was just waiting for the one that included a virus that made us all stay home and demand comfort.
In truth, the rehabilitation of a shoe voted one of the worst 50 inventions of all-time by Time magazine has been motoring for some time, and the last few years have seen Samuel Thompson’s creation move stealthily (and astonishingly) into hypebeast territory.
Years ago, when writing fashion stories for Esquire I would laugh maniacally on receipt of a Crocs press release. “What am I meant to do with this?” I would think (and, on one occasion, wrote back to the PR). But now I found myself thinking, well ... could I? Should I? The thing is, I’m starting to think that I probably could.
Sensibly, Crocs has maintained its rightful place in the heart of chefs and hospital staff everywhere – they actually sent 10,000 free pairs to health workers during the height of the pandemic. But the hypebeast thing … well you have to just hold your hands up to the genius behind that marketing ploy. In a time of “ugly fashion,” why not play to your strengths.
When it happened, nobody really saw it coming. More than a few eyebrows were raised when Scottish fashion designer Christopher Kane flirted with the brand via a bejewelled Croc in 2016. But when Balenciaga creative director, Demna Gvasalia, sent a pair of pink, five-inch platform-heeled Crocs down the runway in Paris one year later, the true purpose of the mind-blown emoji was finally revealed.
Suddenly Crocs was in on the joke. After Balenciaga came streetwear brands Alife and Pleasures, fitting either side of the Post Malone collabs that sold out in record time and changed everything. Crocs were now intentionally fun, and the jibbitz you added to customise your shoe mattered, even if you weren't a 13-year-old girl. Seriously, I just looked at them and worked out which I’d have (pineapple, log cabin, shark, most likely). And even then I checked to see which were the rarest.
Perhaps Crocs are the shoe the world needs right now. Comfortable, durable, fun. The stock market certainly thinks so and its share price saw a 12 percent jump after Bieber posted his collab announcement on Instagram.
When it comes to my interest in them, well I think it probably says a lot more about my mindset than it does the fashion world. It’s fairly embarrassing, but tell me something is cool for long enough and chances are that I’ll eventually see things your way. Sometimes I wonder if it's a global conspiracy to see what rubbish I'll buy if you just hit the right buttons. It doesn’t matter, though. Drake’s just done a line of velvet catsuits with Domino’s Pizza and I’m next in line ahead of the online drop.
What can I say, it’s a sickness.
I haven’t relented just yet. In truth, it’s going to take a big push for me to work up the courage to actually slide into a pair of these things and leave the house. But it’s Croc Day next week, and as I write there’s a pair of the Crocs x KFC classic going for £67 on the streetwear bidding site Stock X, and I think I’ve just seen my window.
If I’m embracing this thing I’m going all-out. It’s fried chicken covered clogs or nothing.