How Crocs Went From Zero To Hero

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Often referred to as the ‘most loved and most hated shoe of all time’, Crocs were a cringey yet practical staple to an Aussie childhood. But in the last few years, they started cropping up everywhere again. And it feels like Crocs are kind of cool now.

But how the hell did that happen? And is it possible to pinpoint the exact moment when Crocs became a thing again?

How The Story Of Crocs Began

It all started with boats. Three guys named Scott, Lyndon, and George, who met through friends of friends in high school and uni, went sailing in the Caribbean in the early 2000s. 

They reportedly came across a boating shoe while on the sail boats that was made of a material called Croslite, a kind of sturdy foam. When they were back in the US, they got straight to business and acquired the rights to the manufacturing process.

Crocs made their debut in 2002 at an international boat show, where they were sold as a comfortable foam boating shoe. And boy, did they sell out fast. By 2004, the company sealed the deal, with exclusive rights to the material and production ramped up.

Crocs Stayed True To Their Brand

As a boating shoe, Crocs were designed to be comfortable and easy to keep clean. This meant they also appealed to anyone who was on their feet a lot and needed to clean their shoes often — like restaurant and healthcare workers. And to anyone who wanted a super comfy shoe, really.

The only catch was that a lot of people thought they were ugly.

Like anything that gets really popular a little too quickly, Crocs attracted many haters. This blog that started in 2007 was “dedicated to the elimination of Crocs and those who think that their excuses for wearing them are viable”. They were even in TIME magazine’s list of 50 worst inventions in 2010.

But in the last 6 years or so, Crocs have been inching their way over from eyesores on feet to kind of cool.

You’re Only As Good As The Company You Keep

It was in 2016 when Crocs had their first high-fashion moment with designer Chrisopher Kane at London Fashion Week. 


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A post shared by Christopher Kane (@christopherkane)

Balenciaga took it to the next level with these platform Crocs at Paris Fashion Week — the collab sold out immediately.


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A post shared by Crocs Shoes (@crocs)

Next was streetwear, through a collab with Alife in 2018 and three new models: the Art, Sport, and Classic clog.

Crocs Alife

Crocs X Alife Collaboration

Then the iconic collaboration with Post Malone brought Crocs to the forefront of pop culture, especially Gen Z.


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A post shared by @postmalone

According to Jesse Einhorn at StockX, an online marketplace especially for streetwear, the collab was the first time Crocs were featured on their bestseller list. Crocs continued to be worn by huge names in pop culture, like Justin Bieber, Nicki Minaj, and Flex Mami here in Australia.

The pandemic also really worked for CrocsComfort reigned over aesthetics while everyone was stuck at home, and you could still wear them to the shops or out on walks. And you could get crafty too, customising your Crocs with custom Jibbitz to really express yourself.

Lessons We Can Learn From Crocs

Some might say that there are some interesting lessons that come from the success of the supposed ‘ugliest shoe ever’.

Designed with a specific purpose in mind, Crocs catered to their intended audience. By staying true to their brand and audience, they eventually served a wider and unexpected audience. They showed us that the ugly duckling doesn’t need to transform into a beautiful swan at all.

And now, they’re the shoe we love to hate or hate to love.