Crocs, the ugly duckling of footwear, reported a record $1.4 billion in revenue sales in 2020, a significant increase from their standing in 2008 when they were close to bankruptcy. Consumers have a strong passion for Crocs. They either love them for easy-going comfort or dislike the no-frills design.

Crocs’ early decision to close stores and embrace e-commerce may very well have been its saving grace. According to NPD Group, Crocs were the only footwear brand among the top 30 tracked to record sales growth in March of last year, topping Amazon’s bestseller list. The company continues to see an upward trajectory, with a nearly 40% increase in direct-to-consumer sales reported in 2020.

Breaking from its previous laissez-faire reputation, the ergonomically designed shoemaker has taken steps to enter high street fashion. The turnaround included haute couture collaborations with London designer Christopher Kane and fashion house Balenciaga, to celebrity brand partnerships with music stars Post Malone and Justin Bieber. With increased visibility in mass media and a shift in growing consumer interest to blend high-low fashion, Crocs seemed to have found its niche.

Timing is everything

The footwear industry saw a 37% increase in sneakers sales as consumers, and women in particular, embraced the trend of slipping their feet into something more comfortable. The onset of the pandemic only fueled the desire for consumers to prioritize comfort over style.  Crocs recently stated, “sandal sales were up 17% in the first quarter, and they will one day outpace growth of its core clogs.”

Aside from its varied purposefulness, the foam clogs’ customizable Jibbitz charms allow fans of all ages to accessorize their Crocs with as much creativity as a Lite Bright set. In a recent post, singer Nicki Minaj adorned her pairs of pink and black Crocs with gem-encrusted Chanel design pins, which sold out in 24 hours, a novelty embraced by celebrities and Instagram influencers. Crocs are catching fire on sites like retail resale marketplace StockX, which has seen high demand from sneakerhead collectors who covet Crocs.

The brand donated over 80, 000 shoes to essential healthcare workers last year, a campaign they have since rebooted. The clog, is favored by nurses and doctors for its Croslite Technology – a proprietary closed-cell impact-absorbing resin material that is not plastic or rubber. All this goodwill has groomed a distinctly loyal fan base making Crocs the “it” shoe of the pandemic and beyond.

What side of the Crocs debate do you fall? Do you love or dislike them? Follow me on Twitter @anjeesolankiCRE and get in on the conversation.