Day 6

Crocs are making a pandemic comeback, thanks to Gen Z and Justin Bieber

The brightly-coloured, hole-speckled rubber clogs of early- to mid-2000s fame have once again found popularity, thanks in no small part to generation Z and celebrities. Meanwhile, the company's stock price has shot up. But critics of the aesthetically-divisive shoe are at a loss for why.

'It is astonishing to me that Crocs have come around again,' says founder of blog I Hate Crocs

Musician Questlove dons a pair of shimmering gold Crocs on the red carpet at the 93rd Annual Academy Awards, April 25, 2021, in Los Angeles. (Chris Pizzello/Pool/Getty Images)

Crocs are back, and the pandemic may be to blame.

The brightly-coloured, hole-speckled rubber clogs of early- to mid-2000s fame have once again found popularity, thanks in no small part to generation Z and celebrities.

But critics of the aesthetically-divisive shoe are at a loss for why.

"It is astonishing to me that Crocs have come around again, that suddenly they're relevant," said writer and magician Vincenzo Ravina, founder of the blog I Hate Crocs. "It's very strange, but I suppose it shouldn't be because trends tend to be cyclical."

Crocs have long been a shoe worn for comfort. They're big among health-care workers, little kids and people who find traditional shoes uncomfortable.

But recently, the shoes have taken over TikTok, with Gen Z users showing off their collections and customizations — Crocs can be adorned with charms the company calls Jibbitz — on the social video app. 

They've also been spotted in more high-profile places. Musician Questlove strolled down the Oscars' red carpet wearing an eye-catching pair of metallic gold Crocs earlier this month.

Celebrities, including Justin Bieber and Post Malone, and big names like Disney, have signed deals with the company for their own styles. Sold out pairs of Bieber's collaboration are now selling online for well above their asking price, according to Bloomberg.

In a year where sweatpants and pullovers are considered fashionable while working from home, however, Ravina admits that their resurgence might not be all that surprising.

"If it's like a pandemic fashion, then that makes perfect sense because … obviously most of us haven't worn real pants in a year. So if you're not wearing real shoes, fair enough," he told Day 6.

Stock price soars

Even as Crocs show up on the red carpet and in video feeds, Ravina says his distaste for the spongy footwear — which goes back more than a decade — hasn't changed.

As a high-school student in 2006, inspired by the "zombie movie"-like invasion of Crocs at his school, Ravina started up his not-so-subtly named blog.

"Objectivity doesn't exist, but subjectively, I think they're objectively hideous," he said.

Vincenzo Ravina is a writer, magician and founder of the blog, I Hate Crocs. (Submitted by Vincenzo Ravina)

It's been more than a decade since the website was updated, but in its hey day, Ravina says he was bombarded with hate mail from Crocs fans.

"Mostly it was just: what are you doing with your life? Why would you spend this much time complaining about a shoe? This doesn't affect you," he recalled. 

Others sent more earnest messages explaining their love for the clog.

"I don't think that I would ever wear a pair of Crocs just because I feel like I can just wear a pair of sandals that are not necessarily fashionable, but they're not as blaring hideous as Crocs are," Ravina added.

Despite their divisive nature, it's unlikely that Crocs will be disappearing any time soon, however.

Crocs Inc.'s stock price has more than doubled since the beginning of 2020. CEO Andrew Rees says big name collaborations are driving growth — and there's more to come. 

"Some [of our collaborations] are designed to attract new customers and to be able to market to them in the future," he told analysts during an earnings call on Tuesday, according to CNN.

"Some of them are designed to be kind of interesting and buzzworthy. In 2021, we will do more international collaborations."


Written by Jason Vermes. Segment with Vincenzo Ravina produced by Laurie Allan.

Hear full episodes of Day 6 on CBC Listen, our free audio streaming service.

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