It might seem like a misprint, but the fashion house made waves Sunday when it debuted a collaboration with Crocs as part of its Spring 2018 collection at Paris Fashion Week.
Crocs, known as the ugliest of all ugly shoes, would appear to be an odd choice for the luxury Spanish designer. But Balenciaga designer Demna Gvasalia told Vogue that he chose to work with Crocs because “it’s a very innovative shoe. It’s light, it’s a one-piece foam mould and to me these kind of techniques and working with these kind of materials is very Balenciaga.”
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The designer produced a platform version of the slip-on sandal, complete with kitschy pins attached to the perforated upper. But Gvasalia is not the first designer to elevate the brand. Last year, designer Christopher Kane collaborated with Crocs for his 2017 Spring/Summer collection.
With Crocs hitting the runway two years in a row, it seems the ugly shoe trend is here to stay. Whether the staying power of the trend is enough to turn around Crocs is another question entirely.
The company, founded in 2002, saw steady growth after making its stock market debut in 2006. Sales peaked at $847 million in 2007, but then dipped the year following with the start of the recession. By 2012, Crocs seemed to be making a comeback—only to dramatically dip again. The teeter-tottering of the shoe company led the Washington Post to write a 2013 piece called “The rise and fall and rise and fall of Crocs.”
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Despite naming a new CEO, the company’s revenue has continued to decline and it plans to close 160 stores in the next two years. And in August, Crocs’ design patent was rejected by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office after a five year legal battle with rival USA Dawgs. The patent had been rejected twice before.
Crocs’ shares have nevertheless been recovering this year. They closed Friday at $9.70, their highest in over 14 months. Perhaps Balenciaga’s endorsement will be just the thing the company needs to rise again.