END. delves into the collaborative history of Crocs, showcasing a selection of the most coveted and innovative releases from the footwear label.
In recent years, the fashion world has witnessed a meteoric shift in the collective consciousness of footwear, with a greater focus on a relaxed, comfort-first, aesthetics-second type of shoe: the clog. One of the leading figures in propelling the status of the shoe into greater ubiquity is Crocs and the label’s good-old, much-loved Clog.
At the core of this rise in Clog mania is the collaborative approach taken by the footwear label, one that places a strong emphasis on doing things in its own unique and experimental way. On this approach to collaboration, Yann Le Bozec, Vice President of Marketing Crocs Europe, stated “collaborations allow us to test the market and reach new consumers in exciting and authentic ways. We’re not overly precious. We like to have fun and take chances, and they enable us to capitalise on the tension that surrounds our brand.”.
The Clog’s innovative, yet also simple, construction lends itself perfectly to modification: colours can be endlessly interchanged, ankle straps reworked and the Jibbitz™ charms made as out-there as imaginable. From Balenciaga and pushing the envelope of anti-fashion with a heeled Clog, to Nicole McLaughlin’s rugged, go-anywhere iteration, Crocs’ collaborations are all underpinned by the same thing: a desire to push boundaries.
On this relentless desire for innovation, Yann Le Bozec stated: “no two collaborations are alike, and every project adopts its own unique DNA. This allows us to push boundaries and find new ways to reimagine our footwear and mould it into something completely one-of-a-kind, tailored to new and diverse audiences.”.
With "Crocs Collaborations: Perpetual Experimentation", END. takes a look at a selection of the most experimental and innovative Crocs Clogs ever created.
This wasn’t the first time, or certainly the last, that the worlds of footwear and fast food collided, but it was the first time Crocs had partnered with one of the leading figures of that world: KFC. The shoe was as tongue-in-cheek as you’d expect, with an appearance that directly mirrored the fast-food chain’s famous buckets of fried chicken. The lower half featured KFC’s instantly recognisable striping found on cardboard packaging, while the upper half was printed with an all-over fried chicken pattern. Perhaps the most experimental element, however, was thanks to the Jibbitz™ charms: they were made to not only resemble a piece of fried chicken, but also smell the same.
Nicole McLaughlin is a designer who obsesses over the possibilities lying within pre-existing items, taking normal and often ubiquitous things and transforming them into something new, experimental and boundary pushing. In 2020, the New York-based creative partnered with Crocs to showcase her penchant for the unconventional and innovative, creating the ultimate utilitarian Croc: the Campsite Clog.
The Clog came equipped with a slew of additions aimed at making life spent on the campsite easier, with the shoe completely transformed in Nicole McLaughlin’s typical tongue-in-cheek manner. The first, and arguably the most noticeable, was the gaiter-like shroud covering the ankles, which also came with additional pockets for extra carrying space. The Jibbitz™ charms used were equally as utilitarian and forward thinking, with rope, a light and even a compass added.
In 2018, Crocs partnering with a high fashion brand would have seemed unlikely — contradictory, even. After all, the Crocs Clog is loved for its accessibility and affordability, rather than its status as a luxury item. But this was Balenciaga — the provocative, Demna Gvasalia-helmed Balenciaga. So, if you were to dig a little deeper, you’d realise that the two weren’t all that dissimilar; both are renowned for their status in the world of anti-fashion — a subversive tactic mastered by Demna Gvasalia — and both pursue collaborations from a perspective of thought provocation.
Following their initial encounter in 2018, where the two partnered to create the radical platformed Clog, Crocs and Balenciaga reunited in 2021 for another, arguably bolder creation: the Madame Mule. The result was part Clog, part high heel, with the slip-on shoe transformed using a 3.1” platform.
In 2021, Crocs and Salehe Bembury debuted their long-awaited Pollex Clog — a release that represents one of, if not the, most coveted Clog ever created. It was a direct reflection of Salehe Bembury’s cutting-edge design sensibility, created as a utilitarian exploration of form and function. The dramatic, concave ridges that appear throughout the Pollex are formed by three of Bembury’s fingerprints merged together, lending the shoe a bold, other-worldly appearance. It wasn’t solely for aesthetic purposes, either, with holes across the uppers designed to align with high-heat areas of the feet.
Palace approaches its collaborations from an angle of experimentation and playfulness, throwing out the rulebook by working with unexpected brands and creating tongue-in-cheek marketing campaigns. Crocs shares a similar sensibility to the London-based label, collaborating in a way that avoids conformity and instead opts to colour outside of the lines.
In May 2021, the two came together to rework the Classic Clog, transforming it in an earthy desert camo and detailing it with psychedelic Jibbitz™. The collaborative theme continued later that year, too, with a Clog rendered in jungle camo and arriving with a slew of eccentric Jibbitz™.
When they partnered in 2021, Crocs and Coca-Cola represented two ubiquitous, widely-loved brands coming together. The iconic Clog was their canvas of choice, with a duo of reworks based on Coca-Cola’s fan-favourites: ordinary and diet coke. As you’d expect, both were reworked with inspiration taken from Coca-Cola’s famous cans, with one coloured in grey and the other in red. Each one featured their respective beverage's branding, too, to complete the playful homages.
In 2021, Crocs partnered with Disney to create a Clog in homage to the legendary animated car, Lightning McQueen. The Clog was reworked to match the signature livery of Lightning McQueen, with its Croslite construction coloured in bright red, a flame-engulfed “95” along the sidewalls and all of the protagonist’s trademark sponsorships. Even Lightning McQueen’s anthropomorphic features were present, too, to really drive home the tributes.
Earlier this year, Crocs and Jeff Staples partnered for the first time to create arguably one of the boldest Clogs of all time — at least in terms of Jibbitz™, anyway. The approach was a homage to Staples’ home city, New York, leaning in on his signature pigeon motif and the bird’s ubiquity in the Big Apple.
The Clog’s Croslite construction arrived in a grey, concrete-like hue to nod to New York’s famous sidewalks, but it was at the Jibbitz™ where things got really experimental. There was a large, pigeon-inspired talon — which was also the biggest Jibbitz™ ever made — a coffee cup and chewing gum, to name a few.
Since day one, utilitarian styling has represented a fundamental pillar of Beams, having remained a mainstay in the Japanese imprint’s collections and partnerships throughout the years. Beams’ ongoing partnership with Crocs is no exception, with their fourth encounter in 2021 being proof.
The collection represented four reworks of the all-terrain Clog, with each one cast through a rugged, military-inspired lens. The uppers were transformed with a textile material and detailed with a bevy of utilitarian details, like taped webbing, buckle adjustments and even additional pockets for storage space. Colourways remained subtle and earthy, like olive greens and tans, to drive home the utilitarian aesthetic.
The culinary world and footwear are two things which crossover quite frequently, especially as far as Crocs is involved. Earlier this year, the footwear label partnered with General Mills for a four-piece collection, dubbed “Rise N’ Style”, celebrating four of the food company’s favourite cereals with All-Terrain Clogs.
One of those was the Cinnamon Toast Crunch iteration, which featured a swirling, marbled pattern made up of brown hues throughout — a direct nod to the distinctive patterning found throughout the cereal. Furthering the playful references, cereal-like Jibbitz™ featured throughout the Clog’s uppers, which were scented like cinnamon as a direct reminder of the iconic cereal.
In 2020, Crocs and Carrots by Anwar Carrots came together for the first time, reworking the All-Terrain Clog through a shared love of bold styling. Unsurprisingly, the concept underpinning the shoe was centred around an Anwar Carrots mainstay: his namesake vegetable.
The result was a as bold as you’d expect from the L.A.-based creative, with the vibrant orange hue of his nickname-giving vegetable appearing throughout the Clog. Large branding appeared detailed across the midsole in contrasting white, too, while carrot-inspired Jibbitz™ were used across the shoe’s toebox.
In 2019, Market and Crocs partnered to create one of the most eccentric Clog ever created, dubbed the “Dmitri”. It reflected the playfulness at the core of Mike Cherman’s label, with a green, turf-like material detailed across the uppers and worked into the Clog’s footbed.