Who knew that foam would become such a stylish fabric on the catwalk?
The one-piece foam mold crocs are more popular than ever, and they had quite an evolution. Initially designed as a boating shoe, now, crocs are on a different type of deck. They’ve completed the looks for the Christopher Kane Spring/Summer collection 2017 and for Balenciaga for the Spring/Summer 2018 collection.
This year Balenciaga succeeded in creating extravagant platform crocs, encrusted with different charms such as an avocado, a butterfly or Balenciaga branded charms. It was not long until they took over the internet and according to Dazed, they were sold out before they were officially available.
Even if we love them or hate them, crocs are part of the technological change. Just the fabric used for making them is an innovation. What we usually call foam; it is actually named Croslite, which is not rubber nor plastic. It is an anti-micro bacterial fabric, which eliminates odor and is absorbing the walking shock. Bringing ugly, comfortable and innovative shoes to the catwalk emphasizes how aesthetics and technology can work together, but also how responsive the public can be to what seemed like a strange combination in the beginning.
Balenciaga crocs are highlighting a shift in the technology used in fashion. Usually, when you think of a pair of expensive, exclusive brand shoes, you think they were made manually, from fine materials, each part of the shoe being made separately. With crocs, that process seems old-fashioned. This one-piece shoe is more than a catwalk trend; it shows how inventive people can be and how fast the world evolves. Moreover, with the 3D printing, already present in fashion industry and in people’s houses, crocs can be created at home. With one click, you can find 3D printable models of crocs, but they are not the perfect shape, nor Balenciaga, yet.
Demna Gvasalia, the creative director of Balenciaga stated, in a Vogue article, that crocs are innovative shoes, and that the techniques used to create them are what represents Balenciaga, also foreseeing that they will be 3D printed in the future. He saw that there is a technological revolution and he made the most of it.
Besides promoting technological innovation, Balenciaga crocs also showed the willingness of people to invest in less practical items. Considering the size of the platforms the crocs have, they are not going to be an every-day footwear, regardless how comfortable that foam is. Even so, people pre-ordered them for $850 and they were sold out.
The ones who are particularly into the trends that break all the rules of what fashion traditionally considers aesthetically pleasing are the millennials. Nowadays, the aesthetic of ugliness is a real trend and Balenciaga proved this with another well-known pair of shoes, the Triple S Trainers. The CEO of Balenciaga stated for the Financial Times that 65% of the brand customers are millennials. It seems that this generation is willing to pay any price in order not to be in accordance with the norms, which is socially kind of cool. Therefore, wearing extravagant foam shoes or trainers that resemble dad’s old shoes, is not just trying to look different, it is a fashion statement.
This shift in the fashion zeitgeist proves that ordinary, not visually pleasing items can be more than just ugly. They can promote technological evolution, reveal essential characteristics of a certain generation and expand our uderstanding about fashion aesthetics and how to build them.