GQ editors face off on the “ugliest” shoe known to man.
Crocs, the slip-on plastic clogs worn most notably by Mario Batali and people who subscribe to gardening magazines have—against the natural order of the universe—become a niche trend. Apparently, as demonstrated by a small-but-influential group of fashion insiders, artists, designers, celebrities, and L.A. guys with man buns who brunch, Crocs are cool now whether you like it or not. Back in September, and again in February, the shoes showed up at London Fashion Week—adorned first with chunky, rock-shaped charms (a.k.a. “jibbitz” to Croc-olytes), then later lined with fur. And this past May a pair of very Croc-like cream-colored garden clogs walked down the Gucci Cruise 2018 runway.
Style mavericks like Shia LaBeouf, Jared Leto (way back in 2006 even), and world’s most snuggly monarch Prince George have become unofficial brand ambassadors for Crocs. Concurrently, we’ve seen Dad Style trend—you’ve got your dad hats, light-wash dad jeans, dad-breakers. And just like that the world has become ripe for Crocs to cross the irony divide from shameful indulgence to “thing that might actually be cool.”
This is happening even though “cool” goes against everything Crocs stand for. The first pair of Crocs was unveiled in 2002 at a boat show in Fort Lauderdale, Florida (according to Wikipedia), and that fact alone should have made their fashion ascendance impossible. They also belong to that lowest phyla of footwear, waterproof shoes, which are mostly prized by cruise enthusiasts and Adam Sandler. Even the most fervent Croc lovers—some of whom you’ll meet below—will concede that the foam shoes are kinda ugly.
So how? How are Crocs becoming stylish? As GQ staff style writer Jake Woolf explains, “Everything ugly is cool these days, from oversized jeans to gaudy logos, and Crocs are maybe the purest form of this new wave.”
Not everyone at GQ HQ is as objectively rational as Woolf in their view of Crocs. Put us in a (Slack) room to discuss the future of Crocs in fashion and friendships started to crumble. Here’s what nineteen GQ staffers had to say about Crocs, and the debatable coolness thereof.
What do you think about Crocs?
Pro: “They’re good.” —Noah Johnson, GQ Style senior editor
Con: “They’re not good.” —Jon Wilde, executive digital editor of GQ.com
Pro: “Crocs are fine. They definitely look goofy, but they seem really comfy and it’s hard to hate on that in a world with some many hard edges.” —Shakeil Greeley, visual editor
Con: “They should probably be burned, but I can’t help thinking that it would be really bad for the environment.” —Andie Diemer, GQ.com photo editor
Pro: “2015 was the year of the the Stan Smith. 2016, the Gucci Horsebit Loafer. 2017, Crocs.” —Griffin Funk, designer
Con: “The only people I still see wearing Crocs are almost always wearing cargo shorts. I truly struggle to think of an outfit they make sense with. My buddy who is a firefighter wears Crocs and I would roast him mercilessly if he didn’t help save lives.” —Rohan Nadkarni, contributing writer and cast-iron pan ambassador
Con: “If a guy was wearing Crocs I’d probably be less likely to want to date or have sex with him. Unless he was a cool, rugged, camping guy or a chef (who I was not working with on a professional basis because I have boundaries!).” —Marian Bull, GQ.com food and travel editor
Gotta Hear Both Sides: “I understand why people hate them, but I also understand why they are now, ever so slightly, becoming cool. Also Shia wears them so I cannot in good conscience disparage a pair of Crocs.”—Jake Woolf, GQ.com style staff writer
Are Crocs actually having a moment in 2017?
Pro: “I think it’s cool.” —Griffin Funk
Pro: “Not sure I’d call it a moment. I think most people still hate them, but most people are basic and put their insecurities above their willingness to wear something that will make them feel good. Crocs are silly, but so are most basketball shoes. I think they look kinda cool. I wouldn’t wear them to work, but I’ll wear them out to parties or whatever in the summer. They are a million times better than flip-flops, that’s for sure.” —Noah Johnson
Con: “Plenty of things have moments. Ska had a moment. Surge had a moment. Crash won for Best Picture. Crocs are the Crash of footwear. The guys who wear them are probably fine, decent people, except, like the Motion Picture Academy of America in 2006, they’ve made a big mistake, and they should be reminded of it, repeatedly.” —Jon Wilde
Unclear: “The only man I know who wears them is [GQ.com editor] Chris Gayomali. I’ve only seen it as a transitional footwear after basketball.” —Alex Reside, GQ.com senior photo editor
Pro: “Crocs are cool. They were demonized for a long time (at times I think performatively, like patting yourself on the back for making a Nickelback joke) to the point a lot of cool people started wearing them to fuck with the perceived ruleset. Crocs are the insurgency. Being comfy and very affordable helps.” —Chris Gayomali, GQ.com culture editor
Have you ever worn or do you currently own a pair of Crocs?
Pro: “I own more than ‘a pair.'”—Noah Johnson
Meh: “Not like, ‘worn’ them. But I’ve put them on for about seven minutes in order to avoid splinters on a deck.” —Jessie Mooney, editorial assistant
Pro: “Yes, my dad used to have them for gardening, and I would wear them if I had to run out of the house. They had Croc “charms” in the holes that he brought home from Sweden—a Swedish rocking horse and flag. They felt very Euro, somehow.”—Samuel Hine, GQ Style editorial assistant
How did they feel to you?
Pro: “Cushiony, airy, supportive, special.” —Noah Johnson
Con: “I remember there being too much room around my feet. I felt like I was preparing to take a shower in a communal bathroom.” —Rohan Nadkarni
Unclear: “Comfortable, but in the way farting out loud at home is comfortable.” —Kevin Nguyen, GQ.com deputy editor
Do you have any good gossip about Crocs?
Yes: “I have been meaning to buy a pair. The orange Mario Batali ones would be great, but rumor has it they discontinued that color so Mario bought every single pair in existence. I don’t know if that’s true.” —Samuel Hine
Do you have any style rules or tips for wearing Crocs?
Do: “With gym shorts or sweatpants. Anything else is too dressy for Crocs.” —Jake Woolf
Do: “Respect yourself enough not to wear Crocs.” —Jon Wilde
Do: “Look to Shia for how to do it. I’d wear them with Patagonia 5” baggies or Dickies.” —Griffin Funk
Do: “Be over the age of, let’s say…55.” —Carly Holden, GQ communications director
Don’t: “Don’t try to tell me that they’re a “wave”— just own up to wearing comfortable orange plastic shoes.” —Shakeil Greeley
Do: “Wear them with loose ‘n’ short pants (either chopped or rolled up). If you only want to go halfway, get the rubber Birkenstocks (Birkencrocs).” —Samuel Hine
Don’t: “Don’t get Crocs with your favorite sport’s teams logo. (Note: I did this) :(” —Jay Willis, GQ.com writer
Know: “THERE ARE NO RULES!!!!” —Chris Gayomali