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Croc and Roll
Daily Cardinal, Sep 14, 2005
What the Croc?
So, what are these things anyway? They’re not clogs, not quite sandals and definitely not your typical shoes, either. Crocs are a class all their own.
Crocs are some of the newest kind of foot apparel to take the shoe industry by storm. The shoes, that come in eight different models, ranging from the “Beach” model to the boot-like “Georgie” to the “Athens” sandal, all maintain similar characteristics that are uniquely “Croc.” Each style is extremely lightweight, adding only six ounces to each step. They offer full support while also fitting loosely and comfortably. And perhaps the most distinct aspect of Crocs is the ample ventilation provided by the shoe’s many holes and open heel.
Crocs come in a rainbow assortment of colors, making them appropriate for a variety of situations. They are available in a toned-down navy blue suitable for sailors, a bright yellow for beach-goers, a flashy pink for those hoping to make a statement, as well as several other varieties.
It all began in 2002 when George Boedecker Jr. and Lyndon Hanson out of Boulder, Colo., wanted to create a shoe that was safe and convenient for boaters. Through the company Foam Creations, Inc., the duo developed the slip-resistant, lightweight masterpiece that is the Croc. After its showcase at a Florida boating show, the shoe quickly gained popularity and the market swiftly expanded across the nation.
In just over three years since the invention, Crocs are now available in over 5,000 retail locations in the U.S. with a growing number of stores opening in countries around the globe.
Quite different from the shoe’s humble beginnings, Crocs no longer seem to have one definite purpose. One website claims Crocs to be great for gardening. Another one displays them as perfect for water sports. An article from The Daily Camera, Boulder’s local paper, was a testament to the shoe’s role as a fashion statement. Across all borders, this versatile shoe is heralded for its comfort. It seems anyone standing on their feet for long periods of time will find relief and satisfaction in Crocs, no matter the activity.
Crocs on campus
Crocs can be found in several stores on State Street, including the University Bookstore, which started carrying them in March of 2004.
“They are the type of shoe that you either love or hate,” said Angie Maniaci, the collegiate merchandise buyer for the University Bookstore. “You either love them because of the way they look or love them because of the way they feel. The people that hate them hate them for the same two reasons.”
Maniaci originally gave them a chance, seeing their potential use as dorm shower shoes. Besides, she was one of those who thought they were cute. She never anticipated the sales would take off the way they did. They became a fashion statement in Madison for women of all ages. Calls have been coming in constantly inquiring about them, but she’s still waiting for the next shipment to arrive and has been for a couple of months.
Summit Hut, a national shoe retailer, began selling them a year ago. Richard, a customer service representative for Summit Hut in Tucson, Ariz., said that “pretty much everyone buys them,” and the sales have not been limited to the female population.
Summit Hut decided to carry them after an ever-increasing public demand for the shoe. They’ve kept the shoe on board simply for market value and steady sales.
Does Maniaci love them just because the business is a thriving success? Doubtful.
“I wear them all the time,” said Maniaci, “I have four pairs. They are great! I challenge anyone who thinks they’re ugly to try a pair on and see how incredibly comfortable they are. I’m sure that just by putting your foot in them it will change your mind.”
Beach-style Crocs sell for $29.95 at the University Bookstore and come in khaki, black, navy, red, sage, yellow, orange and light blue. Lime green and brown are on the way.
I thought I’d see for myself what the fuss is about. Would wearing Crocs live up to my expectations?
Wearing Crocs was like wearing flip-flops. My feet weren’t suffocating as with normal shoes. Crocs fit snugly, but my feet were able to breathe. The first steps were magnificent. (Magnificent? You’re probably wondering how a shoe can be magnificent, but just trust me on this one.
There was so little weight to carry, it felt wrong. It was as easy and liberating as walking barefoot, without the worry of potential pain that comes from walking without proper support.
I thought wearing my bright red Crocs to my first class would grab people’s attention. I anticipated stares and twisted facial expressions at what I viewed as clown-like shoes. And that’s exactly what I got-from some people at least. But no one cared for long.
I think Madisonians are used to interesting trends so much so that nothing comes as a shock anymore. If people can walk around in spandex pants tucked into Ugg boots like last fall, it’s safe to say that anything goes.
“They are easy to get on and off, very comfortable and surprisingly cool for being made of rubber. Our family kayaks a lot and the Crocs are great to wear in the boat, especially if there is a need to get in and out to portage. I think they are very practical and considering the abuse they get from me, very durable,” said John Bogdanske, a member of UW-Madison’s running club.
Although Crocs did make an annoying “squish” sound occasionally (nothing obnoxious that anyone else could hear), their comfort surpassed any faults.
As it turns out, I’m sold on them too. I wanted to laugh the first time I saw them, yet here I am falling in love with them. There’s something about these shoes that’s worth taking a chance on.