Since the first Pier Walk of the semester, I have noticed the vast number of Crocs around St Andrews, and this is one trend that shows no sign of stopping. Having spoken to Croc fans around town, I have come to wonder just how far this craze will go and if it is here to stay.
Originally designed for boating, ideal with its slip and odour resistant technology, it is easy to see why some harbour a deep hatred for them. A poll on Facebook saw 60 people almost unanimously replying “loathe” to the question love or loathe, with one encapsulating the opinion of most by claiming that “The little holes are where your dignity seeps out”. Regardless, in Lyst’s 2020 report, they were the eighth most-wanted item in the world, the average monthly search reaching 135,000 last year alone. Although, this could arguably be a direct result of the shoe featuring in high profile events such as the Academy Awards, its runway representation, and its collaborations with Balenciaga, Lightning McQueen, Takashi Murakami and, my personal favourite, Chinatown Market, to name but a few. All of these gained rave critical reviews, one of which encapsulates Crocs in a nutshell: “The polarizing foam clog brand has defied expectations by slowly but surely infiltrating the worlds of fashion and streetwear.”
Crocs has never wavered from its identity: optimistic, versatile, comfortable. Their ability to be personalised with charms, or ‘Jibbitz’, give consumers every opportunity to live by its slogan, ‘come as you are’. This is something I have noticed that St Andrews students do particularly well, having seen a vast display of Jibbitz from Shrek to a glow-in-the-dark Sriracha in Tesco’s alone. It is not just the Jibbitz that can poke holes in convention – the option to choose a colour and design allows you to wear your heart on your feet. My purchase of the Crocs X Beams collaboration has meant that I have a pocket on my shoes to always carry a Tunnock’s Caramel Wafer, or Strepsils to fight sore throats in tutorials. You could even say that Crocs have allowed us to practice our pun skills, with ‘Dwayne the Croc Johnson’ and ‘croc ‘n’ roll’ being thrown around the most. To many, the displeasing appearance is somewhat outweighed by their light-hearted nature.
If you ask me, it is the very love-hate debate that makes Crocs such a statement. Surely the defying of conventional fashion standards makes for a more interesting fit? I decided to take this question to the streets of St Andrews and, unlike Facebook, the responses were overwhelmingly positive, with answers including that of ‘they should be a staple in British attire’ and that ‘they do all the things that sliders do but to a much higher standard’, suggesting that there has been somewhat of a renaissance for Crocs here in St Andrews. This is celebrated by an emerging society, the St Andrews Croc Soc, which you can view on Instagram and wear Crocs around town with the possibility of featuring on ‘Crocs Spotted’.
In a time where imagination is needed more than ever, Crocs, despite their reputation as the Marmite of the fashion world, may just bring the element of fun that was lost during the pandemic, allowing for a fashion and social interchange.