The real reason Crocs are back in style

Love 'em or hate 'em, you can't deny that Crocs are comfy. While not everyone finds them aesthetically appealing, they've still surged in and out of popularity since they were first sold in 2002. Originally designed as a boating shoe, Crocs quickly began to gain footing with restaurant and hospital workers for their comfort.

Co-founder Lyndon "Duke" Hanson told Parents that the founders of the company all thought that Crocs were ugly when they first began selling them, but still loved the product because it "was comfortable, slip-resistant, could float, and didn't stink like most boating shoes do."

In spite of their perceived ugliness, Crocs caught on, with some even embracing their unique appearance. Although they experienced a dip in popularity in recent years, right now Crocs are more popular than ever, in part driven by the fact that so many people are quarantined at home during the COVID-19 pandemic and are buying surprising items. "People are starting to think they're cool," Karina Saucedo — who once swore she'd never wear Crocs — told the The Wall Street Journal. Saucedo recently became the proud owner of a pair of light purple Crocs and even bought a charm in she shape of a lemon — known as a Jibbitz — to go with them. "I consider them so ugly and such an ironic thing to wear but in the middle of the pandemic it's something weird and nice to hold on to," she said.

Crocs were on the upswing before the pandemic

Sales of Crocs have been on the rise recently, with some like Saucedo no doubt looking for something cozy to wear as they practice social distancing. "Fashion is more focused around personality now, and you can do whatever you like," said Darryl Hargrove, who recently bought two pairs of Crocs along with 26 Jibbitz in shapes that reflect his interests. Hargrove observed that Crocs "were the middle between being fashionable and being practical."

Yet The Wall Street Journal noted that sales were up even before the pandemic, thanks to recent collaborations with celebs like Post Malone, KISS, Zooey Deschanel, and Natalie Dormer. In February, Crocs announced a clog inspired by KFC — the video racking up millions of views on YouTube. The brand has also been taking over social media, with mentions of Crocs surging on Twitter. The company has worked hard to attract a younger clientele and pivoted to boosting online sales while shuttering dozens of physical stores, all contributing to their recent revival.

"This has really been a turnaround story," said Crocs CEO Andrew Rees.