The other day I witnessed the most unexpectedly cool outfit: a white tank top, white basketball shorts, and matching white crocs. I paused for a second on the footwear. I’d never seen Crocs, something I begrudgingly wore as a child, look so cool. As my strappy sandals dug into my ankles, I envied how comfortable the wearer must have been in the ugly, but cushy, shoes.
Crocs have, somehow, against all odds, become the footwear of the season. “The summer of Crocs is here, whether you're ready or not and regardless of if the ugly shoe trend offends your tastes,” Teen Vogue fashion and beauty editor Michelle Li wrote last month about the Barneys New York x Crocs collab. The punk rock version was only the latest in a long line of Croc collaborations. There have been Crocs with pre-attached socks, Balenciaga high heeled Crocs, which are essentially fashionable stilts, and Crocs made for gem collectors. This weekend, the streetwear brand Chinatown Market has once again thrown their hat into the ring and created a version that puts its signature smiley face front and center.
How did we get to this place of maximum Crocs saturation? Earlier this summer, a viral trend showed people on TikTok filling their Crocs with shaving cream and putting their feet in them, the shaving cream shooting out the shoes’ signature perforations. The meme was oddly satisfying, the footwear version of ASMR. While the meme might have furthered the frenzy around Crocs, it doesn’t explain how the shoe became so ubiquitous, since most people in the video seemed to already own a pair.
Another explanation could be that it’s simply a shoe most people have kicking around the house; Crocs are ubiquitous in their ability to be worn while getting ready, at the pool, or running errands. They’re essentially summertime slippers. But high-end fashion and streetwear Crocs collabs have given us permission to not only wear Crocs casually, but wear them as a piece of art: a dressed-up version that’s the perfect addendum to your next streetwear fit.
Last month the internet was a frenzy with Chinatown Market’s astro-turf Croc creation (or, as some would say, abomination). The latest Chinatown Market iteration is red and features blue tie-dye and a smiley face in the middle. Very psychedelic. The shoes, which are adorned with oversized Jibbitz (essentially charm bracelet additions for Crocs), will be available this weekend at ComplexCon in Chicago. The Crocs x Chinatown Market booth at the convention will also have a DIY tie-dye experience and select pieces from the streetwear brand (we have serious FOMO). Later this summer, they’ll be available at Urban Outfitters and, like most Croc collabs, will probably sell out quick.
“Like Crocs, Chinatown Market doesn’t take themselves too seriously,” said Michelle Poole, the Senior Vice-President at Crocs, in a statement. Not taking yourself seriously is definitely a part of the Crocs appeal. They’re comfy, a little ugly, and a surprising choice for a high-fashion fit. The unexpected aspect of a high-end Croc collab, the irony involved, could be one of the reasons they’re so popular in the first place.
Streetwear thrives off of taking something low-brow and elevating it to high fashion status. Hoodies, bucket hats, and basic footwear, (i.e items that are typically closet staples and relatively affordable) are co-opted by streetwear brands. A single logo has the potential to take a basic fashion staple to new heights (and new prices) as an enviable, limited-time, product. There’s something ironic about wearing a basic, and perhaps previously seen as a little dorky, piece of clothing that costs 3x what it usually does. By wearing streetwear brands, like Chinatown Market, you’re signaling to people in the know that you’re in-the-know and up on the latest trends.
The best thing about the Croc trend? You can easily get the original version and be just as cool.
Originally Appeared on Teen Vogue