Over the weekend, I did something completely out of character. I bought a pair of Crocs. Yes, really. I don’t care if you unfollow me or stop reading this blog. It’s best you know the truth: I spotted them in the shoe shop near my gym, and my mother has a pair and swears by them, and one thing led to another.
In my defence, they don’t actually look like Crocs. But as one of my Facebook friends pointed out, I’ll know that they are Crocs, and that’s what counts.
Ah yes, the comments. The tweets. The cries of Nooooooooo it can’t be true. I could have announced I was running off to join the Scientologists or having Julius Malema’s love child, or both, and I’d have got less of a reaction.
“I may have to reevaluate the friendship.”
“Shame on you. Tsk tsk.”
“Times like this need a thumbs down/ don’t like button.”
“C’mon Sarah! You are a role mode. Say it ain’t so.”
Only one was supportive: “thumbs up for you Sarah. It’s about time you Joburg jollers realized that life is not all about one-upmanship or about being fashionable.”
I should not have been surprised. Globally Crocs code for lack of taste or insight. According to this new movie, if you wear Crocs you’re a dopey hippie type, “because dopey hippie types wear Crocs”. (Just like Saabs used to code for well-heeled bohemians and Prius for vegan Obama-voters.)
A quick perusal of Croc-related fan pages and the number of fans each boasts is revealing:
Official Crocs fan page: 379,217
Crocs Indonesia: 146,091
Taking off your Crocs after a long day of looking like a fucking twat: 199,744
Crocs Malaysia: 50,567
Crocs Israel: 18,205
I don’t care how comfortable Crocs are, you look like a dumbass: 1,620,671
I’m fascinated by this. Why is it that Crocs should arouse such ridiculously over the top animosity? It’s almost tribal. If love of Apple is a powerful marker of identity, so is hatred of Crocs. It’s become a form of metahatred: you want to be seen to hate something, but it’s all posturing. Your hatred has no actual emotional content; it’s just an empty shell within which to package particular cultural signifiers. Roland Barthes would have loved it.
Crocs, as it turned out, were invented in Canada – and not just Canada, but French-speaking Canada. Perhaps that explains everything. In any event, three friends – Scott Seamans, Lyndon “Duke” Hanson, and George Boedecker – bought a design from a Quebec company called Foam Creations, sold it at the Fort Lauderdale boat show in 2002, and the rest is history. The holding company is now listed on the Nasdaq and is worth over $2,3 billion. Not bad for ugly shoes that everyone loves to hate.
I can’t wait to wear mine, although I do plan to take precautions, and have a T-shirt made. It’ll read: “I can wear Crocs if I wear them ironically.” I’ll wear it to the Loeries next month (oh yes, the Crocs are going to Cape Town with me), and the hipsters on Long Street will see it and run screaming, clutching their now pathetically mainstream but still inexplicably cool trilbies to their delicately coiffed heads.
I should have bought Crocs years ago.