Foam clog pioneer Crocs has announced that it is shutting down its factories. So what does that mean for New Zealand’s first and only Crocs store in Auckland? Jihee Junn paid a (much belated) visit to find out.
The Crocs store in Newmarket has just a single review on Yelp: “Could there possibly be a worse invention in the world than crocs? I don’t think so.” Two stars.
Since taking over the footwear scene in the mid-2000s, Crocs have been to the fashion police what Pablo Escobar was to the cops – criminal, destructive, and wanted for all the wrong reasons. So when the company opened its first (and only) dedicated concept store in New Zealand almost a decade ago, all sorts of horror and derision was directed its way. But as various stores have come and gone in Newmarket’s retail district over the years, Crocs on Broadway’s niche and divisive offering has miraculously persisted beyond the odds.
But with the recent news that Crocs was planning to close all its manufacturing facilities in the next few months, where to now for this once-pioneering shoemaker? Announcing last week that it would bring its facilities in Mexico and Italy to a halt, the internet erupted in a flurry obituaries laced with a melting pot of emotions (sadness, joy, horror, disbelief etc). In many ways, the demise can be seen as a sign of the times – ugly sneakers are in, ugly foam-clog-boat-shoe-thingies are out.
When I visited the Crocs store days after the news broke, I didn’t quite know what to expect. The company said it would be shutting some of its retail stores – would little old New Zealand’s be one of them? In fact, would it even be open? Would I be allowed in? And if so, would there be a clearance sale with 70% off all marked prices?
The reality, however, was quite the opposite, with the store offering up to 30% off in its ‘We’re Not Going Out Of Business’ sale instead.
“We’re not going anywhere,” the shop assistant tells me. “Crocs is a multimillion dollar business and we’re simply changing our supply by using third-party manufacturers. There’s been a lot of stuff in the media about how we’re going out of business, but the media in New Zealand doesn’t understand how business works.”
In fact, not only were they not going out of business, but it also seemed like they were doing good business. There were two customers there when I entered the shop, which is two more than what I was expecting at 10am on a weekday. One man even bought a pair of jandals in the brief time that I was there, who seems to have been won over by the shop assistant’s sales pitch shitting on Havaianas (“If you buy Crocs jandals, you’ll never buy anything else again!”).
It was my first time in the Crocs store – I never really cared to visit it before, for obvious reasons – and to my surprise, there was a whole lot more than just garish plastic slippers (although if garish plastic slippers are your thing, there’s plenty of that too). Sandals, jandals, flats, loafers, wedges, trainers and canvas slippers; it was clear Crocs was so much more than just its most famous design.
So did I buy anything? No. Absolutely not. But if my ankles ever gave out from wearing platform boots (or if I could get my hands these bad boys from Balenciaga), maybe one day I will.