PUBLISHED: 1:55 PM on Wednesday, November 29, 2006
What color are your Crocs?
These molded resin shoes known for their comfort took a different path than most fashion trends

Crocs broke the mold when it comes to how trends usually move across the country.

The cushiony, bright, holey, molded resin shoes had a long following even before "The Today Show" announced on July 24 that Crocs were the hottest, newest shoe of the summer.

"You wore them because they were comfortable. That's how they were marketed," said Stephanie Koon, spokesman for Crocs, headquartered in Niwot, Colo., near Boulder.

Sales are meteoric and Crocs have found their way to the feet of such famous people as actor Al Pacino and singer Faith Hill. Crocs reported in August that revenues for the first six months of 2006 increased 255.6 percent to $130.5 million, compared to $36.7 million for the first six months of 2005.

The shoes, in more than 20 styles and colors, are now in 10,000 stores in the United States and are sold in 45 other countries, according to information from the company.

Children and teenagers were the first Crocs wearers to start embellishing the shoes and doing things like swapping the back straps with friends, Koon said.

With or without embellishments Crocs remain popular.

Crocs remain hot because the company has come up with new styles and they appeal to all age levels. The story goes that Crocs were designed as a boat shoe and their popularity took off after they were taken to a boat show.

"We have seen the sales of items skyrocket after exposure on shows such as Oprah, placement in TV shows or when they are spotted on a celebrity," said Karen Giberson, president of the Accessories Council, a not-for-profit trade association headquartered in New York City.

She compared Crocs to Uggs. Uggs, described as "cute boots with white fluff sticking out of the top," became extremely popular in the spring of 2003. And although they look like winter boots, the Australian export fad started in California and then spread. Stars like Britney Spears, Kate Hudson and Madonna could be seen wearing them.

"Uggs have transitioned from trend item to a staple item in the wardrobe," Giberson said. "Uggs are a great product, they are practical and they aren't going away."

Uggs and Crocs shared at least one characteristic. People often times describe them as ugly.

"Some trends come and go," Giberson said. "You might see it for a season or two and then they disappear. Others seem to peak, but the item becomes a part of one's lifestyle and wardrobe. Crocs are fun, but they are also very practical, I think that makes them a candidate for sticking around. Hopefully they will continue to update and stay fresh, while not losing the roots that made them a hit in the first place."