Crocs: Because Form Follows Function

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.

Crocs are:

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.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • I'm with you, and this Mama even wears them. I have arthritis, and the cushion is wonderful. One thing I disagree on is that they are indestructible. Maybe we are just rough, but we have had broken straps (still wearable, but not good for running with no strap), and after heavy use the bottoms do wear down and get thinner, which decreases comfort, and can cause them to be slippery on certain surfaces. Other than that I agree with you 100%!

  • rightsaidred

    Ok, that was hilarious.But, Crocs do not cost $5. I guess you are referring to the imitation brand? Are they just as good? The real Crocs are much more expensive, and I find it hard to spend that much money on the most ridiculous looking shoes I've ever seen. I too have been trying to wait out the crocs trend…especially for my boys!!! but your post makes me think I should just be more practical and throw style out the window.

  • JurisMater

    Red, yes, we've always had imitation Crocs, never name brand, always $5, they work great. Actually here in England, the high demand has driven the price of imitation crocs down to $3. Perhaps the imitation ones are causing my children's developing footbones to atrophy so that they'll never make it into the NBA, but no truly waterproof shoes are excellent for their feet anyway. Would you ever really take Stride Rite “waterproof” shoes into the water?By the way, my toddler currently is coloring my son's imitation croc with markers. That's how I have time to comment at 10:30 in the morning. It will take me 3 seconds to clean off the ink. I love Crocs.

  • Mary Alice

    Mine found that they could not run safely in crocs, especially the younger ones, we had lots of tripping and falling. We also had lots of lost crocs. The easy on part was great, but the easy off meant that they were kicked all around. We have been very happy with our Keens, which are like Tevas with a closed front toe box, the kids wear them at all times and don't have to have sneakers. From a trend perspective, we don't see crocs here anymore, all the kids are wearing Keens or flip-flops. Land's End makes a nice knock-off of the keens that are kids water shoes with a sneaker sole, I have the adult version and I really like them when I have to tide my bike to the pool, etc.

  • Mary Alice

    Super cool about the fire, though. Are you homeschooling in Europe or will the kids go to school in the fall?

  • AWOL Mommy

    I want to throw down that I am the Builder with the most dire Croc addiction/love. We were on board in 2003, since we were living in Colorado and they were born in Boulder. Pre-kids we had some! Husband, wife, daughter, son, second-hand after being Oxi-cleaned, fur-lined in the winter. Straight up no shame. I would also like to explain the men-in-bright-crocs phenomenon. I support it. I looked for the loudest colors possible for my ARMY husband and mucho macho 2 year old son. Because, come on, they are plastic and have holes – what is the point of getting blue or black? These are not church shoes, these are not even really school shoes (unless you are us), so why even pretend? As you wrote, JM, Crocs connote fun, so why not show that you can laugh at yourself and wear orange or red or purple? I will tell you one aspect of the Croc phenomenon which I will never defend…. Jibbitz. Those people are capitalist robbers praying on our young children as far as I am concerned. Grandma is the only one permitted to buy Jibbitz, ever.

  • JurisMater

    Oh MA, you naysayer. And the homeschool fire thing was a joke, as well as the piranhas.

  • Erin G

    You guy are hilarious! I have always thought Crocs would be too clunky for our toddler to use…maybe we'll give them a try now though. So I had a pair of bright orange Crocs in 2005/6 at NDLS…. probably the source of a good chuckle for JM :). After reading this post I went and dug them out of the closet after a few years of non-use…surprisingly comfortable!

  • Mary Alice

    So I am coming out as a naysayer here, but I also want to add that I have never, ever seen a man in brightly colored crocs. Are there seriously American males out at the Army playgrounds on their off days wearing pink rubber shoes? Because if so, I think we are in big trouble.

  • Kate

    So I will add to the naysay group. It should be noted that MA and I live 15 minutes away from each other. But Crocs nearly took out my toddler. He fell a few times and then just wiped one day. I threw them out. I love Keens. They can get stinky but I can usually de-stinkify them. We wear them every single day and in and out of the creek at our hippy pre-school. I hose them down or rinse them in the sink. BUT they look nice enough to wear out and about without real embarrassment.However I will tell when Crocs rock. And that is when I got my first pair, delivered by a nautical friend in 2005…for labor. Crocs rock for labor. Comfy, fit swollen pregnancy feet, hose-downable (let's be honest it's messy business) AND you look silly anyway, you've lost all sense of dignity…embrace the Crocs. Otherwise, not on my feet or the kids 🙂

  • Mary Alice

    I do like the idea of crocs for hospital slippers. My kids also have the fuzzy lined ones for apres ski and they love them for that.

  • Kevin

    Kids love crocs. And the more garsih the colors the better it seems. It also as the benefit of easily finding them in a pile next to a bounce house. Our kids would wear them anywhere and everywhere. We draw the line at church however as much as they beg.Crocs on guys are another matter. I must have an ant-foot fetish where I believe all males over the age of twelve must have their feet covered in public except I guess in swimming pools. It must be the hairy toes. Using this gauge, however, crocs are better than men in flip flops (perish the thought). And I know Jesus wore sandals but hey we are not Jesus.