Crocs, the U.S. firm responsible for those shoes that look like what Ronald McDonald’s children might wear, has announced it’ll close 100 of its 600 stores around the world following a 44% drop in profits in the last three months. The company plans to lay off about 180 of its 5,000 employees, and will also slash its product range by 30% to 40%, offering fewer styles. The announcement smells like victory for the anti-Croc movement of sorts that spawned an “I Hate Crocs” blog and a Facebook page titled “I Don’t Care How Comfortable Crocs Are, You Look Like A Dumbass,” which has 1.5 million likes.
Crocs were born in 2002 as boating footwear. Unfortunately, they didn’t stay at sea for long. Lauded for being supremely comfortable, the shoes soon became a favorite of “crocophile” celebrities like Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, and chef Mario Batali, who has a Crocs line named after him. George W. Bush, too, wore the shoes in public (another reason he’ll forever be on the wrong side of history). By 2005, the company was producing a million shoes a month, and by 2007, had hit $850 million in annual sales.
But by 2008, Croc-love was waning as consumers slowly came to their senses, and the company suffered a major drop in sales. They tried hard to regain their former glory by expanding their design selections: they made high-heeled leather Crocs, wedges, sneakers, winter boots, and leather boating shoes. The strategy worked, for a while–in 2011, they made $150 million in profits–but ultimately proved to be overexpansion. They’re now cutting the leather boots and dress shoes, and downsizing the company to survive–layoffs include 70 jobs at their Colorado headquarters. “We have a clear, well-defined strategy for addressing these issues and improving performance,” company president Andrew Rees said in a statement. “Work is under way already to drive significant change throughout our company.”
Will fashion historians of the future see the Crocs phenomenon as a sign of a deeply sick society, the way we look back in horror at 18th-century corsets and bustles, or lead makeup, or mullets? Discuss.
[H/T The Guardian]