Thursday, July 16, 2009

At Last, Some Light in This Recession

Crocs are going under, not a moment too soon.
"The company's toast," said Damon Vickers, who manages an investment fund at Nine Points Capital Partners in Seattle. "They're zombie-ish. They're dead and they don't know it."
Normally, I am a fan of indestructible footgear, but you look at a pair of Crocs, and you think 'landfill.' Those are some ugly shoes. I have only ever seen one person wearing Crocs who was able to get away with it; she was a student at SVA, and I think her outfit involved some sort of fifties-style dress with cherries and an apron. The Crocs were red, and they looked properly satirical.

But you would think that any company which lives by fashion would understand that satire has a very short dateline. What on earth did they expect, that after selling 100 million pairs of hideous, non-bio-degradable shoes in seven years, that people wouldn't get sick of them? Already?


Spatula said...

You know, I hate those things, but I have problem feet and those are the only shoes in which I can walk and stand for a long time without curling up in pain and withering away.

Seriously. I am the first to preach the fact that lots of shoes on the market are both beautiful and comfortable, but for me it's not a choice between comfort and discomfort, but between no pain vs. lots of pain. I wear hot-pink crocs to a lot of my art classes. I am not proud, but my feet obviously have a mind of their own, and I know that the passing of the crocs will be mourned by a LOT of nurses.

Pretty Lady said...

Admittedly, I have never tried a pair on, although I am the queen of Problem Feet. They look like the kinds of shoes that have shredded my feet in the course of a three-block walk in the past, and they are so ugly that I haven't bothered to confirm their foot-shredding capabilities.

You might be able to snap up several extra pairs, cheaply; the WaPo article claims that piles of them are going unsold in stores.

Chris Rywalt said...

I know exactly who you mean at SVA. That was Cathleen Cueto. She's so adorable, she could probably pull off any outfit. There was a story going around about how people wearing Crocs were getting injured by escalators; when I forwarded it to her, she told me she'd gotten the same message from almost everyone she knew. She was the Croc Girl.

I find Crocs hideous but apparently they're extremely well-designed: They are, as you point out, indestructible, not to mention waterproof, and people who wear them tell me they're really, really comfortable. They look horrible and cheap but they do the job of footwear very well. A good tool, but not a pretty one, for the most practical of people.

Personally, I'm not vain, but I couldn't imagine wearing them. They'd be one more step towards the fat man muumuu.

Spatula said...

I dislike wearing them for aesthetic reasons, but for tired feet, they are the best thing that ever happened on God's green earth. And no one was more suprised and vexed than me when I tried them out of sheer desperation. I have some very nice shoes from Naot and Merrill's, and the $7 ugly-ass crocs beat them utterly for sheer happy foot state. Oh, and Lady, they don't shred feet at all. They are very soft and mold themselves to feet. I only got blisters after walking for 6 long LA blocks in 100 degree weather and sweating like a hog.

Stocking up? Reluctantly, but yes, I will be.

Spatula said...

...God, I can't believe I am pimping crocs. What is the world coming to.

Oriane said...

I know a ten-year-old boy who wears them and they look great on him. They do look like children's shoes (or cute-art-student-girl shoes), and I've never considered them for myself, but $7? I like the sound of that.

Pretty Lady said...

It pains me to say this, but this lame post actually made the front page on Open Salon this weekend. It seems that everybody on God's green earth has an opinion about Crocs. Feel free to go over there and join the debate. Or not.

Spatula, I too am a devoted patron of Naot and Merrill. My Naot Curly Boots are the best, but the sandals I got last year are hot and give me blisters. The Merrills used to be my studio shoes, back when I had a studio.

Pretty Lady said...

Chris, I am both exhilarated and devastated by that photo of Cathleen. She looks every bit as cute as I remember; however I obviously remembered the outfit entirely wrong--down to the color of the Crocs. I could have sworn they were red. I grow old.

Chris Rywalt said...

It's possible you saw her on a different night from that photo. The outfit you described sounds right -- cherries, red Crocs -- but obviously it's not the one in the photo. I think she had a red pair, too. Although maybe I'm getting old also.

Chris Rywalt said...

Incidentally, I did a whole bunch of net.research on whether or not Crocs are recyclable or biodegradable. Everyone assumes they're not biodegradable because they're "plastic," although most people don't realize "plastic" covers a lot of very different materials. And they didn't hear about the kid who isolated the bacteria that eats plastic shopping bags.

Anyway, Crocs are made of something called croslite™, a closed cell resin which is inhospitable to bacterial growth (so it doesn't start to smell like feet). It's apparently quite wonderful -- lightweight, strong, and moldable (it's being used in diabetic footwear now).

But I can't find anything about its recyclability or degradability at all. Only a lot of people assuming it's neither.

Carol Diehl said...

Crocs are totally ugly, the shoe equivalent of plastic stacking outdoor chairs. I don't even like them on that adorable SVA student. But they are no doubt better for your feet than flip-flops.

Oriane said...

I happened by a Crocs emporium yesterday on the upper west side of Manhattan and was non-plussed. They were ugly, not comfortable and not $7. (They were $30 a pair.)

Chris Rywalt said...

Carol, I know Crocs look ugly, but it's important to differentiate them from those stacking outdoor plastic chairs. Crocs are well-designed, well-engineered, workable footwear, which happen to be hideous and probably overpriced. They do not fall into the same category as what I call, lacking a suitable umbrella term, VSOs.

VSO stands for Violin-Shaped Object. That's what music store employees call any violin on sale for under about $200. If you pay less than $200 for a violin, you didn't buy an actual violin -- you bought a Violin-Shaped Object. Because it turns out making a violin is much more complex than simply making an object which looks like a violin.

Over the years I've found the same thing is true of virtually everything you can buy. Shoes might appear to be simple objects, easily made. But I've owned things which looked, to the untrained eye, exactly like shoes, and yet failed in every way to function like shoes. Never pay $5 for a pair of watershoes, for example, because they will rapidly show themselves to be VSOs by falling apart, failing to stay on, and not protecting your feet from rocks and glass.

Those plastic chairs you mention are a fantastic example of the VSO. I've blown through more of those chairs than you've sat in. If you're small enough, and treat them gently enough, and sit just right on them, those plastic chairs will hold you up for a few seasons, maybe. But attempt to treat them like actual chairs and you'll find yourself on your ass amidst a pile of plastic kindling. They're chair-shaped objects: VSOs.

Crocs, whatever else might be wrong with them, are not VSOs. They're actual shoes.

Nancy said...

they make dandy gardening shoes, water proof, but not airtight.. and that's important where it can rain and be 98 degrees with 100% the shade.

My podiatrist swears by them, but I won't by a 50 dollar pair of crocs to wear as dress shoes.

Oriane said...

Hi Chris!

I have two of those stacking plastic chairs that I bought (2 for $5) about 5 years ago and they're doing just fine. I sit on one of them almost every day. Not that I'm contradicting you or anything.

I also think the plastic chairs brought me good chair karma, because last year I found 2 nice west elm chairs on the street. They are now in my kitchen.

Bye Chris! Anytime you feel like (re)acknowledging my existence, feel free!

Spatula said...

I love the VSO concept! Oh, and to folks that think Crocs are overpriced: they cost SEVEN of the American dollars.