Can Crocs Make a Comeback?

Nothing exemplifies the unpredictability of public opinion more than the success of Crocs.

Crocs are the platypus of the shoe world. They look funny, but they’ve somehow managed to dominate a certain segment of the footwear market. Renowned for their vibrant color, orgasmic comfort and a fashion sense that combines the best attributes of a Nerf football and a kitchen strainer, Crocs have enjoyed an inexplicable level of popularity with the public–particularly the American public (we’re looking at you, Mario Batali).

While almost every other fashion line at least tries to combine both style and functionality, Crocs focuses on comfort above all else, and consequently revolutionized shoe design as a result. Most readers won’t be too surprised to learn that the original Crocs were designed as spa shoes. No one will ever win an Olympic competition in Crocs, but the line has made its way into mainstream life for many Americans.

Though the popularity of Crocs appeared to peak as their novelty factor faded, the company recently implemented a marketing strategy designed to re-brand its products as (wait for it) an upscale alternative to competitors—namely Skechers and Wolverine Worldwide—offering similar but less expensive shoes.

Can Crocs replicate that decade-old magic with its new efforts to reach American and European customers? The company hopes so, because its brand identity already resonated quite successfully with the public–so why not give it another try ten years later? And this approach doesn’t work, Crocs plans to offer fur-lined products and rain boots in addition to its retro line. Flashy!

Much of Croc’s public appeal concerns the attention garnered by its products’ bright colors and funky shapes. Few people can pull off a pair of Crocs without conveying the message, “Hey, everybody, I’m wearing a pair of Crocs!” What, exactly, does this say about the individual who decides to buy a pair of these hippie half-shoes?

That’s up to the public to decide…once again.