I grew up loving my pair of Crocs. They were bright fuchsia and always plugged with an array of Jibbitz charms — little fruit motifs, fake gems, a black and white blurb that read, “What’s Up?,” which, I’ll have you know, was a crowd-pleasing conversation starter in the fifth grade. I spent many nights dreaming up ideas for Crocs outfits: One day I’d style them with rainbow-striped tights and a blush pink tutu, the next with my favorite pair of black jersey gauchos. But I came of age in an era where streamlined minimalism set the tone for the fashion trends, and it greatly affected how I viewed my wardrobe, starting with those hot pink Crocs I once adored. I began to view them as too ugly, too weird — too much everything. So as I grew up, I defected camps, going from a pro-Crocs fan to an adamant hater.
This stance of mine held steadfast for many years, but then, much later, fashion changed its tune. Maximalism eventually hit the mainstream, and with it came a slew of bold, in-your-face trends. This aesthetic turn-over was an awakening, of sorts, for me. I’ve always self-identified as a statement dresser, so I wondered: Who am I to turn my nose up at Crocs? I’m someone who’s always prided myself on seeking out items with a bit of ugliness (my favorite find is a garishly tie-dyed blouse made from an upcycled wedding dress), so why can’t I extend the same open-mindedness to those porous rubber shoes? Why can’t I view their eccentricity as something to appreciate instead of rebuff? Thus, I decided to re-visit the shoes I once loved — and what I found took me completely by surprise.
Over the last few years, Crocs have transitioned into the high-fashion luxury space, starting back in 2017 by teaming up with Scottish designer Christopher Kane for a collection that produced marbled clogs covered in geode-like adornments. You’ve likely also heard of the American shoe company’s ongoing collaboration with Balenciaga, a partnership that’s spawned hybrid creations like a heeled clog, a rain boot with filled-in holes, and platform creepers. And through these many of-the-moment collaborations, Crocs have gone from childish to ironically camp to, well, cool.
Moreover, this pivot into luxury fashion has been intentionally calculated to the nth degree. Some might even go so far as to call Crocs’ re-brand genius (me, it’s me — I am “some”) as the brand’s recent trajectory proves it can not only adapt to controversy but thrive on it. Lucy Thornley, Crocs’ vice president of global trend, design, and product management, told Vogue that the brand actually leans into its polarizing label. “We have existed on this tension point between love and hate, and we haven’t shied away from it,” she says.
“I remember asking Christopher [Kane,] ‘Why do you want to partner with us?’” Thornley said in her interview with the publication. “And he said, I want to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary.’” Kane’s sentiment pretty much sums up my 2022 view on Crocs now, too. These whacky rubber clogs with holes are ridiculous, probably the shoes your dad keeps by the door as just-in-case footwear for when he needs to run out and check the mailbox. But because they possess a certain baseline of basic-ness, putting them in a high-fashion context makes them all the more fun. And I’ve decided “fun” is my fashion perspective going into summer 2022.
Ahead, you’ll find a few of outfits that have thoroughly convinced me to switch back over to Team Crocs, as well as an edit to shop and some styling tips and tricks. Depending on how much I’m able to scrimp and save, you might even catch me strolling around the West Village this summer in a new fuchsia pair — but these ones will be high-heeled and Balenciaga-ified.
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An ultra-feminine dress teamed with a pair of outdoorsy rubber clogs? It’s certainly unexpected — and yet, to me, it works. Forever an English nerd obsessed with juxtaposition, I’ll always co-sign a contrasting clash of aesthetics, so Pernille Rosenkilde’s girly-meets-gorpcore combo certainly resonates. I’ll be recreating the look this summer with a pair of camo-print Crocs — which, believe it or not, boast Kendall Jenner’s stamp of approval — and a romantic dress with a bustier-style bodice.
Towering Heights & Textures
The Madame Mules from Balenciaga’s ongoing collaboration with the American shoe company are an elevated, high-fashion take on the much-debated shoe — quite literally. With fashion writer Kristen Bateman’s styling of the unconventional shoe, I’m drawn to the lofty heel, of course, but also how she played with textures. Notice how the fur trim on her jacket adds depth to her ensemble, contrasting with the smooth rubber of her Frankenstein-esque footwear. Snag a pair of Balenciaga x Croc’s Madame Mules (or not: The label’s classic clogs would work, too) and style them with leather, faux fur, feathers, or fringe.
A Double Croc Effect
Speaking of textures, consider piling on items done in croc embossing or featuring reptilian-like graphics when styling a pair of the clogs. The pairing is a bit tongue-in-cheek, and, if you’re anything like me, you can’t ever resist a sartorial pun. Consider reaching for either a croc-effect jacket, handbag, trousers, or a printed midi dress.
Not A Clog, But A Boot
Yet another quirky result of the partnership between Demna Gvasalia, Balenciaga’s creative director, and Crocs, is this hefty EVA Rain Boot. Oh, and don’t worry: Crocs’ signature front holes are completely filled in, so your toes won’t ever get wet. Here, Blackpink’s Jennie wears an ink-colored pair with a black, square-neck mini dress and a butterfly motif necklace.
I, for one, have been eyeing the summer goth trend so these über-hefty Studded Rubber Platform Slides from Crocs collaboration with — you guessed it — Balenciaga stood out to me when they came across my feed. The bad news is, though, that the exact pair of stompers are seemingly sold out on all retailers, which I guess is what happens when someone as celebrity-charged as Justin Bieber wears them to the 2022 Grammy Awards red carpet. Crocs offers a similar studded style, however, that would pair well with a very on-trend pair of cargo jeans.
Spotted In The Wild
As a native Cape Codder, I’m a sucker for an effortless beach outfit, so as soon as I saw Maxine Wylde’s Crocs and cover-up separates look, it went straight to my ‘saved’ folder on Insta. I can say that a pair of sea-colored clogs will be safely tucked inside my beach bag all summer.