Why are Crocs cool?
That’s an article The Harvard Crimson wrote just over a year ago, discussing the ugly but loved shoe that sits alongside its cousin, the Birkenstock. Despite its unattractive aesthetic, it’s a shoe that has been dubbed as one of the fastest-growing brands, seeing an increase of 430% in sales.
It’s now a shoe that has collaborated with high-end fashion brand Balenciaga and musicians such as Post Malone, Justin Bieber and Bad Bunny. And after a successful partnership, Crocs is now extending its tie-up with renowned designer Salehe Bembury.
As part of the deal, Bembury will serve as the creative director for the Crocs x Pollex Pod collection and will work with Crocs’ design team to enhance his successful Pollex design as well as introduce fresh silhouettes and styles to the collection in the coming years.
“We exist in a landscape of ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ collaborations, so the value lies in long-term relationships and that’s what we’ve established. Good design exercises restraint and balances utility with beauty and the Pollex Pod represents that by successfully merging Crocs’ brand identity with my own brand identity,” Bembury said about the partnership.
Bembury gained popularity in the fashion industry in recent years through his innovative designs that not only aim to push boundaries but also take a consumer-focused approach. Bembury’s partnership with Crocs originally began in 2021, with the launch of the Crocs Pollex Clogs.
Although Crocs is known for its frequent collaborations, the partnership with Salehe Bembury is unique in that it is a response to consumer demand. The Pollex collection has been dubbed as one of the brand’s most successful in recent years. The popularity of the collection even caused some controversy as resale bots caused prices to significantly increase.
Confirming the success, Crocs President Michelle Poole revealed that collaborations and product partnerships have played a critical role in the brand’s strategy for many years and noted that Bembury’s innovative design approach has brought a new dimension to the molded form and allowed the shoes to reach a wider audience.
Both Bembury and Crocs seemingly share the same values, which prioritize innovation and utility to create modern designs that resonate with new audiences. The collaboration between Bembury and Crocs reportedly started in a similar manner to many of the successful partnerships the brand has had in the past: through an organic conversation on Instagram. Crocs initially offered to send Bembury shoes, but he responded by proposing a collaboration. Crocs was intrigued by Bembury’s desire to transform the Classic Clog’s shape.
Collaborations allow the brand to introduce new styles and designs that may not have been possible on its own. By partnering with high-end fashion brands like Balenciaga and designers like Salehe Bembury, Crocs can create unique and unexpected products that appeal to a broader audience.
Another factor that may contribute to Crocs’ success with collaborations is its ability to connect with younger consumers. One way is through social media, which Crocs clearly leverages (connecting with Bembury) to build a strong online presence and engage with its customers in a meaningful way.
Additionally, the brand’s popularity among younger audiences can also be credited to its collaborations with musicians, facilitated through social media.
Adidas, on the other hand, has been able to create initial hype around collaborations such as its partnership with Kanye West, now known as Ye and Beyoncé, but they all manage to flop.
Despite being regarded by Adidas as “one of the most successful” partnerships in its history, The company ended the collaboration due to the rapper’s antisemitic outbursts on social media. The split has resulted in an estimated loss of $1.3 billion in revenue for Adidas.
Adidas’s IVY PARK collaboration with Beyoncé saw disagreements between the footwear company and the singer’s team regarding product labeling and marketing, according to reports. That resulted in Beyoncé appearing less frequently in promotional campaigns for the IVY PARK collaboration.
In February, Crocs reported a year-over-year revenue increase of 53.7% in 2022, surpassing its earlier forecast of 49% to 52% growth. In addition, the company expected a revenue growth of 10% to 13% in 2023.
At the time, specialty athletic retailer Foot Locker also observed a similar trend with consumers gravitating toward casual apparel. According to Foot Locker, sales of sneakers increased due to the products’ fun and casual nature.
“We’re at the intersection of sports, fitness, fashion and the casualization of society, and the tailwinds for sneakers, I believe ,will be persistent for many years to come,” Foot Locker President and CEO Mary Dillon said in November.
According to an investor presentation released at the ICR Conference in January, Crocs has experienced an estimated 34% growth in international revenues, with international markets now representing 38% of the brand’s revenue and 29% of the company’s total revenue. Furthermore, the company reported that 37% of its sales now come from its digital channels, which include its own websites and eTailers.
At the time of the presentation, Crocs reported that looking ahead, in order to achieve growth in all markets, especially internationally, the company plans to launch significant new products for both its brands. The company also aims to vigorously promote its sandals and extend the assortment of Heydude products sold through major U.S. wholesale accounts.
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