These shoes never seem to escape our wardrobesRupert Ganzer / Flickr

The real question that we should all be asking in a University that demonstrates daring yet effortless style, in a society and culture that values beauty and taste, is… how on earth did Crocs do it? Oddly shaped, rubber-ish plastic, and actually full of holes, these shoes are objectively ugly. And yet despite this, they have transcended: entering high fashion, commercial clothes lines, and becoming an everyday sighting that is (for some unknown reason) not ridiculed, and even might be celebrated. The scale of this comeback is enviable and largely inexplicable, and yet I must try to understand.

“Oddly shaped, rubber-ish plastic, and actually full of holes, these shoes are objectively ugly”

My earliest memory of Crocs is family camping holidays, and the specific feel of wet grass that accumulates underfoot and occasionally (*shudder*) between the toes. One notable summer, the parental assurance that these shoes were practical did little to ease the nagging feeling I had acquired that they were one of the worst things my nine-year-old self had ever seen. Granted most children probably aren’t quite as excited about their first one-inch-of-lift wedge sandals as I was (I’m not saying my taste was faultless OK?) but I think many of us connect to the childhood-antics-related practicality of Crocs.

It’s safe to say that most of us no longer have quite the same need for a shoe that promises nothing but practicality, and yet at least a decade later they have wiggled back into our hearts and wardrobes. In the case of most relics of our childhoods and adolescence, we leave them in the past to fondly recall and occasionally cringe about. Very rarely does an item such as the Croc manage such a resounding reboot. Dungarees perhaps came close, but pale in comparison to this outrageously perplexing footwear. Does nostalgia offer an explanation then? It is certainly not down to a return to practicality in fashion – a single glance at Sidgwick style quickly dismisses this – but perhaps a yearning for a childhood long since passed? While I embrace the return of many aspects of nineties and Y2K fashion - low-waisted trousers, long skirts and dresses, oversized shirts - Crocs are something I truly struggle to reconcile with. What will be next? Jellies? Layering skirts and leggings?

“Are Crocs a ‘so wrong it’s right’ situation, like pineapple on pizza for the feet?”

There must be some innate appeal to these mysterious creations that is not accounted for by aesthetic pleasure. However, to reduce style to purely what looks the best is reductive. Fashion and the concept of the ‘Ugly’ have been interwoven for decades, whether it be ugly in a camp sense, such as the work of designer Jeremy Scott, creative director for Moschino, or ugly in a utilitarian or dystopian sense, as can be seen in the recent work of Balenciaga. Haute Couture is all about pushing the boundaries of art forms, defying expectations and popular narratives. However, up until recently these anti-fashion, ugly-yet-chic trends didn’t successfully trickle into the mainstream consumer level of fashion. But one must only attend a formal to realise the grip that Crocs have on the student population. Are they fundamentally subversive in their anti-fashionableness? Is this the great appeal of Crocs? A “so wrong it’s right” situation, like pineapple on pizza for the feet?


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Perhaps I should be embracing the wrongness of Crocs. Even the most diehard Croc owners must recognise their controversy, being as they are, not objectively nice. And yet they have gained immense popularity and have become a very lucrative business. There seems to be a fondness between Croc and owner, a bond that maybe can only be generated with a shoe that allows you to add the whimsical personalisation that I must admit I have only ever seen achieved by jibbitz. Perhaps this inherent perplexity is the true power of the Croc, and whatever you think of them, we all must admit that what they have achieved is no mean feet.