The list of Crocs collaborators is long and diverse. Over the course of this summer alone, the brand has launched new products alongside Salehe Bembury, Palace and MCM. Looking further back, Crocs has also worked with everyone from Justin Bieber and Post Malone, to Nicole McLaughlin and Awake NY. Perhaps the most striking of all its collaborations, though, is its long-running work with Balenciaga, which has seen the Classic Clog twisted beyond recognition.
This collaboration strategy has helped Crocs change its reputation remarkably in recent years. Whereas once it was known for its comfort alone, the brand has gone on to become a genuine player in the fashion industry, aiming to capitalize on this by hiring former Nike executive Emma Minto in 2021 with a brief to continue Crocs’ upward trajectory.
“Awareness was never a problem,” Heidi Cooley, Chief Marketing Officer at Crocs, tells Hypebeast. “Whether or not you wore Crocs, you knew them. That created an incredible opportunity, so we set out to reignite our icon, the Classic Clog.” This silhouette has been at the center of Crocs’ new strategy, frequently offered up to collaborators or customized through special-edition Jibbitz packs.
“We’re not overly precious, we like to have fun and take chances,” Cooley says. “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 mold it into something completely one-of-a-kind, tailored to new and diverse audiences.” Through its collaborations with artists and brands in different worlds, be it music, fashion or even food, Crocs has been able to move the dial – so much so that it is now considered a design choice, rather than a comfort choice.
With this elevated status in place, the next focus is on where the brand can go from here. “Taking risks and embracing innovation got us to where we are today and will help carry us into the future,” Cooley explains. “Looking ahead, we’ll continue exploring opportunities through a digital-first socially-led approach to give our consumers new experiences and touchpoints to interact with our brand.”
The plan for Crocs as it moves forward is to mix its successful collaborations with a renewed focus on its mainline products, showing what exists beyond the Classic Clog. “Our collaboration strategy will continue to amplify what we stand for as a brand, while creating unexpected moments that feel purposeful,” says Lucy Thornley, the brand’s Global Vice President of Trend, Consumer, Design and Product. “While our partners respect what we stand for and authenticate the brand through their own unique lens, we also have an incredibly talented design team which allows us to bring to life out-of-the-box ideas, and our aspiration is to close the gap between collaborations and mainline product. This will allow us to remain disruptive, celebrate our brand polarization, and continue existing within that tension of love and hate.”
The focus on mainline releases has already begun to bear fruit, with a string of new releases including the “Spray Dye” collection, new categories such as the hiking-focused “All Terrain” range and new silhouettes like the chunky Crush sandal. “We’re focused on introducing new design languages that marry innovation with our comfort DNA,” Thornley continues. “For us, it’s about creating product through the lens of consumer connectivity, introducing a broader range of new silhouettes to extend our reach as a brand. For the remainder of this year, we’ll be releasing several new silhouettes, allowing us to break into new categories beyond clogs including rainboots, slides, sandals, and more.” Thornley highlights the upcoming Echo Clog as a particular favorite, describing “a distinctive exoskeletal design that emphasizes sculpting, bold form and premium comfort.”
Whether it's through collaborations or changes to its mainline collection, Crocs isn’t letting its newfound status slip away. “We’re focused on driving longevity through new product innovations that embrace what we stand for while also deepening consumer connectivity and staying relevant to the cultural zeitgeist of the moment,” Thornley concludes. “We’ll continue to listen to our consumers and see what they respond to, leading molded innovation by disruptively breaking into new product categories and wearing occasions.”