I AM PRECISELY the type of person who gets excited about dumb shoes, which is why I felt confused and upset when I realised I’d scrolled right past the ‘metallic disco desert embroidery details’ on Crocs’ latest limited edition design. With removable spurs, special Western-themed Jibbitz and a ‘Crocskin’ texture, the boots in question were so outrageous, it was as if they were designed for the algorithm first and for walking in second—which, of course they were.
This approach to crafting footwear is nothing new, nor is it remotely out of character for Crocs, a shoe brand that’s been poking fun of itself for almost as long as customers have been poking fun of it. And it does appear the Classic Cowboy Boot has done its job—generating hype on the internet while being reported on by news outlets from The New York Times to The Cut (and, now, Esquire). But this time around, the tone of the hype and coverage seems different. Similar to the reaction to MSCHF’s Big Red Boots this time last year, this stunt feels less ‘OMG outrageous!’ and more ‘cute’, with a sigh on the end.
While The Cut asked, ‘Did we need this?’ Washington Post prefaced their coverage with: ‘No, it’s not a slow news day.’ Which can only really mean one thing: we’re creeping very close to silly shoe burnout.
It’s interesting to note the origin of Crocs’ Classic Cowboy Boots. They weren’t forged in the fires of a feverish sketching session; rather, they were inspired by memes that were made by fans and shared on social media. According to The New York Times’ interview with Crocs’ chief marketing officer Heidi Cooley, the decision of whether or not to put the boots into production took the design team all of 12 minutes. “We don’t overthink it,” she clarified.
Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for user-generated shoe design, and I like the idea that a major consumer brand like Crocs is listening to its customers and bringing their wildest dreams to life. But if they are designed by the internet for the internet, perhaps they should just exist on the internet? As someone who grew up on a farm, I, for one, can’t imagine trudging through a wet paddock with these perforated puppies on my feet. Perhaps they’d be cute for an indoor honky tonk… though at $120, the boots are about $100 more than I’d like to pay for an item of fancy dress.
Maybe I’ll change my mind. Not about viral footwear trends—I’ll be making a concerted effort to embrace mediocre footwear this season—but about these bedazzled Crocs. I have until October 23 to think about it. I kind of wish they came in pink.