Crocs, the rubber clogs worn most notably by disgraced Italian food impresario Mario Batali, and beloved by children and gardeners alike, are a shoe that have been embraced as of late by the fashion-forward. While I respect the choices made by others and have no issue with what they choose to put on their bodies, I feel it would be remiss to acknowledge the true purpose of Crocs. They are a perfect shoe for your shortest errand and really nothing more.
My history with Crocs is complicated. At some point in the early 2000s, I purchased a pair after seeing a model whose name I do not recall wearing them in a way that felt chic, effortless, and practical—three things that I aspire to in my everyday life. They were orange, like Mr. Batali’s shoe of choice, and I recall wearing them with vigor over the course of a two-week-long road trip across the country after I graduated from college. For this purpose, they were perfect—a shoe that could slip on and off easily for nightly trips to the communal restroom at the various campgrounds where we stayed. Hooking the little back strap around my heel ensured that the shoe stayed on my foot while scaling a pile of slippery rocks on a beach in Oregon. A photo that I have not seen in over a decade depicts me and also my Crocs in their element. My friends and I are standing on a picnic table at a campground in the early dawn somewhere on the West Coast. I am wearing my Crocs, which are dirty, and a faded yellow t-shirt that proclaims a love for schnauzers that I don’t quite believe in.
For the purposes I described above the shoe was adequate; worn without socks, the foot sweat that collects creates a slime that is difficult to contend with. The ventilation holes, which can be clogged with Jibbitz—small charms that are designed to express the wearer’s personality—do not provide much in the way of actual ventilation, but will certainly get rain on your foot if one wears them in inclement weather. Worn with socks, the Croc loses its fugly appeal, which is the main draw for the Crocs’ resurgence in the first place.
Christopher Kane sent Croc-adjacent shoes down a runway in 2017. Balanciaga tooted up a Croc on a ridiculous platform, a move that got the shoe a spot in the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute’s Camp exhibit in 2019. Shia LaBeouf loves Crocs. On StockX, an online reseller and auction site for grailed sneakers and the like, a pair of Crocs done in collaboration with Takashi Murakami for Complexcon is currently on offer for a starting bid of $217. Among the squishy silhouettes of Kanye West’s sneakers sits a pair of rubber slides that are a queasy mash-up of the Classic Crocs Slide and an Adidas Adilette shower shoe, of the sort worn by athletes off the field. There’s a dirtbag, mushroom-dealer, Grateful Dead-aficionado appeal to the shoe that lends itself well to the more outré offerings that the current streetwear market is selling. Crocs are soft, rubbery, amorphous blobs that somehow look good with an Online Ceramics long-sleeve tee and a cropped parka from Public School. Their persistence in the fashion world is distressing, but unlike most things that are, it somehow makes sense.
I have considered a pair of lilac Crocs for summer, but have never been able to pull the trigger. I am an adult, for starters, and not a fourth grader. Also, I don’t know if I like them enough to wear anywhere other than the roof of my apartment. Recently, I was given a pair of lined Crocs that have a very specific purpose. They are the winter flip-flop, a perfect errand shoe, and the best thing to wear for anything that will take you out of your home for three blocks and nothing more. The lining makes all the difference, eliminating the need for socks, which is all one needs in an errand shoe. Dansko clogs, of the sort favored by kindergarten teachers, Rachel Comey acolytes, and professional chefs, would seem like an appropriate workaround for this very specific task, but those, unfortunately require socks. Learn from my mistake, for the Danskos I purchased roughly six years ago now smell so bad that I am embarrassed to wear them anywhere. Flip flops are the ideal shoe for the errand, but winter on the East Coast means that they are impractical for slush-covered sidewalks strewn with empty Starbucks cups and JUUL pods. Crocs—lined, please—and nothing else.