An Open Letter to the Boy Band of Clogs, Crocs, and Sandals. Sincerely, Hater.
Hoof shoe, elephant dung shoe, hamburger Nike sneakers, Vibram five fingers- if these just sound like random words strung together to you then, by all means, Google for giggles. For these bear testimony to the case of the weirds, the footwear industry gets down with time and again until the hype around it flickers and dies. But I think, the founders of the ugly club are the crocs and dad sandals which unlike the aforementioned let’s say, questionable shoes are not a phase for the better or the worse (let's be frank, mostly for the worse).
I remember as a kid while putting together my ‘OOTD’, I despised putting my freshly-bathed feet into the impure, unholy silhouette of velcro strap dad sandals that were forced onto most of us (except if you're a Kardashian).
So, unlike other kids, the monsters under my bed were these sandals. Couple that with the ‘versatile’ and ‘comfortable’ crocs and voila! You have my picture-perfect nightmare, all painted out. Skip to a decade later, you’re telling me all the cool kids are wearing it?????? From Rihanna to the Biebers, suddenly crisp AF1s are not as comfy as these half-shoes that come with holes poked into it for cross-ventilation or whatever.
Starting with Crocs, my personal bias aside has received an immense of banter around it-whether it is the “What Are Those?” memes or ihatecrocs.com, a website that fuelled people’s collective, passionate dislike for the ugly ducklings. Since their birth, crocs have been parading thin lines of fickle-mindedness as their likeability dwindles with being name-called and spikes erratically with celebrity collaborations (Justin Bieber X Crocs sold out in minutes).
And hey, what’s up with them being called super comfortable because I’d like to argue that that argument definitely has a lot of holes in it. For starters, customers are told to buy a larger size to LeT tHe FeEt BrEaThE but wtf do you do with the strap that comes sliding down like your social life every time you wear crocs. Too low a blow? As low as the sartorial quotient of crocs supporters? My apologies, moving on.
All the comfort goes down the drain when you wear crocs out in peak summers because they’re made of plastic and rubber and the sweat dancing on your feet like it’s the Fourth of July will make them stick to your feet, giving you the zombie walk.
Moreover, I just can’t wrap my head around the holes and how people find them comfortable for activities like gardening when crocs are practically an open invitation to rocks and all other types of crap to have a dance party inside them. I really don’t see the point to them and further, my stance sides with the Buzzfeed article that said crocs look like a PVC cheese grater, but let’s not expand more on the looks or we might be sitting out here all night.
The second stop on the hate train is dad sandals aka the likes of Birkenstocks. Birkenstocks were seen for what they truly are when they were first imported from Germany to the US- oddities. The orthopedic-inspired footwear does not just hurt your overall chances of succeeding socially in life but as per the rumor mill, also hurts your feet enormously before they become comfortable.
*Cue Barney Stinson saying true story* One fine day, a regular Birkenstock wear-er put them on and just a few steps in found herself in a bloodbath that she did not RSVP to, which apparently happens as you’re ‘breaking into’ them. So, looks like people are paying thousands to buy blisters for a week. Supposedly after this initial period, it's all rainbows and sunshines and you are floating in shoe heaven.
So, naturally, it gives me sleepless nights as I see celebrities frolicking around in these abominations, riding the ugly shoe trend wave with the confidence you only get after 6 vodka shots. And following are a band of religious followers in a hype quest, eating up the ugliness under the garb of comfort.
So as I lay thoughtless the idea that notoriously slips through the cracks is why in the world would anyone wear these without being under gunpoint? Because “ugly is relative” is really not a digestible argument for me to just give up on fashion. Not until they bring back Uggs at least.
Coming back to my question, I found my answer with Carolyn Mair, Ph.D., a cognitive psychologist who specializes in fashion. This wise lady said, “Ugly fashion attracts attention because it is different." So, what she meant was that “normal” or average objects are easy to digest but unusual objects (she said it, not me) grab more eyeballs. Okay, I thought Lady Gaga fashion caught attention but alright.
While I was getting over this explanation, sermons of another fashion psychologist Dawnn Karen fell into my lap. She said especially post the pandemic, ugly shoes are a cry for help from our social-interaction-starved generation.
Dawnn Karen, fashion psychologist, Refinery29
While my dislike for these silhouettes is as passionate as Kanye's love for Kanye, it falls short in front of the slurry of collaborations coming in from Crocs X Hidden Valley Ranch to Dr. Martens X Suicoke that have people cheering it on like when Leo finally won that Oscar. So, here’s me signing off as no matter how I feel-love them or hate them, apparently, the world can’t dismiss them.