When I first saw a pair of Crocs back in 2005, I was certain I had never, ever, ever seen a more hilariously and hopelessly ugly pair of shoes than these gaudy Swiss-cheese clown-shoes. My New Years resolutions for 2006 were to lose my first-time pregnancy weight and to wait out the Crocs trend come hell or high water.
Our generation has seen a memorable progression of waterproof footwear. Before I was born, if I’m not mistaken, summertime footwear options were either flip flops or old tennis shoes.
Enter AquaSocks. Good concept, since they stayed on your feet well even underwater. Very difficult to put on when wet. Uncanny way of retaining sand. Waterproofness weak: would mildew if not sun-dried immediately after use. Durability OK: could stop crabs from pinching you but not broken glass in the parking lot. Big plus: no need to ruin a pair of tennis shoes when you go canoeing. Suitability for adult wear: low. Colors available: mostly bold colors and neons. Style points: negative 10.
Moving on a few years to Tevas. Good combination of rugged hipness and waterproofability. Understated color scheme (especially compared to Aquasocks). Resembled the normalness of flip flops but stayed on feet much better than flip flops. Durability OK: could not stop crabs but more likely than Aquasocks to protect from broken glass and rusty nails. Very practical for use out of water as well as underwater. Major style drawback: Teva suntan lines didn’t mix and match well with other shoe styles.
And then weren’t Crocs the next waterproof shoe to enter the scene? I have something to say now, 5 years later. Crocs ROCK. I initially caved out of charity in 2008, when we visited my family in Alabama (on the Bay) and my mom had picked up Walmart-brand crocs for each of the kids. $5 per pair. “Well, they’ll just be our Alabama shoes.” Oh, not so.
Highly durable. Perhaps indestructible. 100% waterproof, drying almost immediately. They’re too thick to cut with scissors (ask my toddler) or with a small serrated knife (ask her again). Plastic/rubbery, probably non-biodegradable, so it would even take great Mother Nature thousands of years to erode them. Recently, when my kids and I threw them into a controlled indoor fire that we lit as part of our science curriculum, we were shocked to discover them 20 minutes later as unscathed as Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the fiery furnace.
Closed-toe, protecting my children’s delicate feet from whatever rural or urban landscape in which we may find ourselves. Thorns on berry bushes and sandspurs at the beach can’t touch my kids; we wade through lakes in the Amazon rainforest and laugh as the piranhas circle our feet.
Easy to put on. Even my toddler can put her own shoes on. And then take them off and put them on again 4 or 5 times, all by herself, as I try to get us all out of the door. She can even do it that one last time, as I’m screaming at the top of my lungs, before I reach the count of three. That is AWESOME.
Fit great. Once they are on my kids feet, they stay on. They can climb stairs or playground equipment, run around without tripping, jump off of furniture.
All-purpose. Is there any warm-weather activity that Crocs can’t participate in? We can go from a museum to a subway ride to a playground for kicking balls to the swimming pool. Excellent traction, slip-proof. My daughters can even wear the white ones with silver bling to be flower girls in an upcoming summer wedding, right?
Waterproof. Amen. I delude myself if I ever think there’s one single day in the spring or summer that my kids will not manage to get their feet wet. From rain puddles (I’m a total softy for puddle-jumping) to wet playground equipment to beaches and pools and sweaty feet, it’s a daily certainty, and Crocs are there for us.
Easy to clean. Wash them with soap and water then place them right back in the shoe basket.
Ventilated: fresh air coming through the Swiss cheese holes at all times to cut down on heat and odor and bacteria proliferation.
Replaceable. They’re darn ugly, so nobody’s going to cry if they’re lost, and they can be replaced for $5.
I am a believer. Crocs are the perfect design and material and weight and price for young children’s summertime footwear. I still don’t wear them myself, for style reasons. If I was an adult man, I would never, ever wear a bright red or bold pink pair (have you noticed this adult-male-wearing-pink-or-red-crocs phenomenon?) But I’ll be oh so sad to say goodbye to this Crocs era, for my children, when it’s time to move on to the next trend in water shoes. Because many summertime shoes do noble things, but Crocs surpass them all.