Catwalks and Crocs – the rise of the ugly shoe

Fashion Week – celebs, cutting edge fashion and Crocs. Yes you read that correctly. Crocs.

In a controversial move the designer Christopher Kane decked out his catwalk models in the world’s least sexy shoes. But was the use of Crocs in his show ‘fashion suicide’ or a careful acknowledgement of changing attitudes towards what we consider to be stylish footwear brands?

Over the last couple of decades the impractical high heels from designer labels like Christian Louboutin have dominated women’s fashion. If you’re anything like me and lack all ability to walk in any heel higher than two inches then this may have been a difficult trend to partake in. However in the age of social media we have seen an increased focus on every day street style and the practical ‘cool girl’. The cool girl is active, effortlessly stylish, has a large social media following, and is not afraid to dress ironically and think outside of the box. This new consumer has opened a new window of opportunity for comfort shoes and has already demonstrated her value by bringing Birkenstocks (the once uncool ‘Jesus’ sandals) back into mainstream fashion. ‘Birks’ are now donned by every other celebrity and even I will happily admit to being the proud owner of two pairs.

This is not the first time that Birkenstocks have been a must have item and it could be argued that such comfortable well-made shoes will always find their way back into fashion if they sit and wait long enough. However, the scale and pace of Birkenstocks’ recent success is a testament to the power of ‘cool’ in the digital era. The coolest stars of social media can reach and influence thousands of people directly– spreading trends like wild fire. This makes them incredibly valuable ambassadors that brands are increasingly learning to take advantage of.

But these cool girls are also restless, they need to stay ahead of the trend and are always looking for something else to pioneer and set them apart – something that Crocs and other famously ugly but comfy shoe brands, such as Uggs and Tevas,  are eager to provide. The appearance of Crocs at fashion week is evidence of this desperation to be recognised by the street style ambassadors of the social media generation.

So laugh all you want at Kane’s embellished Crocs – the cool girls that fill your Instagram feed are probably already considering their ‘edgy’ potential  and in a couple of years you might even be begging your dad to lend you his old pair.

Maddie Webb

07.10.16