Rubber shoes are experiencing a renaissance in 2022

Not so long ago, Crocs were seriously uncool. In fact, less than 12 months ago we officially declared it was time to pick up a pair (if you haven’t already).

And although the brand has since sold hundreds of millions of its classic clogs, the plastic slip-on comes from humble beginnings.

How did rubber shoes get here?

In 2002, Crocs founders Lyndon Hanson and George Boedecker, Jr. used newly developed injection-molded antimicrobial foam to make their first shoe – a waterproof design called Beach, which they showed at the Fort Lauderdale Boat Show. There they quickly sold the 200 units they had produced.

Since then, the Crocs have become ubiquitous, a comfortable slip-on shoe that’s also popular in locker rooms and showers – see: former NHL player and fellow Swede Peter Forsberg, who invested in Crocs in his early days – like on the beach or in classrooms. Needless to say, everyone agrees with the shoe’s funky design. So much so that it is high a lot spinoffs – including chunky boots and bulbous high heels from luxury brand Balenciaga.

The Crocs, once a shower shoe, are now mainstays of every fashion week.

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Climb, crocs, climb

But Crocs is also taking advantage of the trend. His ongoing collaboration with sneaker designer Salehe Bembury, the Crocs Pollex Clog, has transformed the brand into a true streetwear brand capable of attracting many thousands of customer queues and astronomical resale prices.

Sure, Crocs were nothing new to shoe fans — even those who don’t care about shoes at all — but they had never sparked such interest. Crocs were suddenly coveted as sneakers: something people were eager to own and suddenly taken for granted once supplies were limited.

It’s hard to give Bembury all the credit for Crocs’ resurgence, but he took the brand to a level it hadn’t before through collaborations with Justin Bieber, Anwar Carrots or Post Malone. They were offered license to play with the color of the hoof and who Jibbitz, the charms you can put in the circular perforations, but none were allowed to invent a new silhouette.

Originality wins

During a recent appearance on the Complex Sneakers podcast, Bembury admitted that his original designs received little pushback. In fact, the Crocs team offered him the opportunity to create his own unique Croc after seeing his first sketches, which played with a Crocs Kids shoe – not one they had ever sold in adult sizes. From there, he 3D printed a sample. Once he held the mockup he immediately knew, he explained in that same interview, that it would be an instant hit in whatever color they eventually came out (of which there are half a dozen now , but half a dozen others on the way ).

It’s not just because it’s a popular name in footwear, but because rubber shoes from other brands are seeing similar rises: Yeezy’s Foam Runners, Merrell’s Hydro Mocs, and even Vans Slip-On TRK, a rubberized version of its best-selling canvas sneaker. Whether any of them will reach Pollex-level heights is hard to say, though.

pollex clog in stockx
The Pollex Clog in a limited-edition color called Spackle Almost White recently went on sale for $3,000.

StockX

Rubber shoes reach resale ridiculousness

Right now, a handful of Crocs from Bembury are reselling in five figures: a pair of friends and family (i.e. donated, not sold) in a color called Spackle Almost White has recently sold for $2,500. Two others, Menemsha and Cucumber, fetch over $400 a pair. Those are insane numbers considering they only cost $85 if you bought them from Crocs.

But Bembury’s aren’t the only rubber shoes selling well above retail. Although a steady increase in supply has slowly reduced their resale value, you’ll still be selling Yeezy Foam Runners for over $500, a 455% increase from its original price of $90. The least popular of the three, but arguably the most sensible, is Merrell’s Hydro Moc. For now, it rarely resells for much more than retail price, which is only $55. Every now and then you’ll see a pair listed at $75 or $80, but they sit tight because people can still find them in stock on Merrell’s site.

If Hydro Mocs suddenly starts reselling for over $100, we will have officially reached advanced rubber shoe. However, one could say that we are already there. See people spending various thousand dollars on a pair of injection-molded rubber shoes is shocking to say the least, but, hey, the hype sells – it always has.

The holey trinity of rubber shoes:

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Crocs Pollex Clog by Salehe Bembury

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