God save us from the Croc!
By AMANDA PLATELL - More by this author » Last updated at 09:39am on 30th August 2007
Arriving Down Under for my annual family get together last Christmas I was greeted by the usual line-up of my beaming brother, his wife and their three children.
Only this time it was different. Instead of spotting their friendly faces in the crowd, all I could see was a row of ten of the ugliest, daftest, least flattering items of footwear I have ever seen in my life.
And they were stuck to my darling family's feet, as if they were auditioning for the part of Krusty the Clown's less fashionable relatives. Scroll down for more...
Amanda Platell can't stand Crocs
And don't start making assumptions. Bad taste is not genetic in Australians. Hitherto I had seen no hint of Dame Edna's dress sense in my own gene pool.
My brother is a professor of surgery, his wife a respected GP, his teenage children are style conscious without being fashion victims.
But here they were, all victims of the greatest fashion heist in modern history - the curse of the Crocs.
I can't bring myself to even call them shoes, as you cannot call a pair of luridly coloured plastic colanders with reptile snouts and orthopaedic straps 'shoes'.
Back then, I dismissed them as an Aussie eccentricity, this is, after all, the same nation that is still partial to mullet haircuts (especially the women). But then, like some form of malign foot fungus, the Croc disease started to spread across the globe.
Soon Crocs were everywhere. On the beach. In gardens. Even at the supermarket.
Surely a one-season fad, I thought. Before long, they'll be consigned to that same, special corner of fashion hell where lurks those Global Hypercolor T-shirts that changed colour according to your body heat and were a big hit back in the Eighties. (What were we thinking? A fabric that lights up when you sweat? Madness.)
I was wrong. This week comes the news that the firm behind Crocs is about to branch out internationally into men's and boy's clothing made, wait for it, from the same hideous trademark Croslite soft, spongy foam resin. Scroll down for more...
Hollywood legends Jack Nicholson and Al Pacino are Crocs fans
And why this global expansion? Because Crocs are fast becoming one of the most successful fashion brands of all time. Sales in John Lewis stores alone have gone up 270 per cent in a week.
Twenty million pairs have been sold in 12 months. And now the Wall Street analyst Piper Jaffray is predicting sales will more than double from £178 million in 2006 to £408 million this year.
Has the world gone utterly insane? Crocs' Inc boasts their footwear is 'non-marking, odour-resistant, soft and lightweight'. But so is David Cameron and no one's buying him in droves.
I don't care that they've become a favourite of celebrities, or that style icons such as Nicole Kidman and Teri Hatcher wear them. We all make fashion mistakes. Crikey, I wore a puffball mini-skirt back in the early Nineties when I weighed 11st.
No one's perfect. BUT this isn't even a fashion mistake. Because Crocs are not, and never were, anything to do with fashion.
Indeed, the whole concept seems to be to make them appear as hideous as possible. They look like they're moulded from a stale lump of Swiss cheese and feel like they're made from sun-dried liver.
Slipping on a Croc is like putting your foot into a cadaver.
They scream to the world 'I don't care'. Which, on seeing anyone wearing them, can only be loosely translated as 'I don't care if no one ever wants to have sex with me again'.
The fact that Al Pacino, Jack Nicholson and George Bush all wear them rather proves my point. Here are three men who are all past caring what anyone thinks of them.
If you think I'm being a bit harsh, I ask you to provide just one human specimen who does not look as bowlegged and flat-footed as Charlie Chaplin the moment they slip on a pair of Crocs.
I cannot think of another item of clothing that is so utterly unflattering to men and women alike. They are so clunky and clumsy they make event the most muscular calf look as appealing as a Bernard Matthew turkey leg, fattened up for Christmas.
Crocophiles think they're the footwear equivalent of a hybrid 4x4, stylish yet environmentally friendly.
(Oh dear, it can't be long before the Tories makes then de rigueur for all candidates.) But I've got news for you: it's all a myth, a fantastic marketing stunt.
They're not environmentally friendly as far as I can see. They're made from a propietary closed-cell resin, a by-product of oil, and as they're now making three million pairs a month, that's a heck of a lot of the black stuff to be pumped out of the ground.
Perhaps that explains why President Bush is so keen on them. They give him another reason to invade Iran. The global Croc supply must be kept safe. Worse still, Crocs are nonbiodegradable.
So presumably in centuries to come new civilisations will discover landfill sites the size of Manchester filled with nasty plastic reptilian slippers. What will future generations make of us.
In fairness, Crocs Inc claim their shoes are recyclable. But into what? Colanders? Halloween masks to frighten small children? Crocs other claim is that they're slip-resistant.
Try telling that to a Crocophile friend of mine who has worn them in many a hue since they first hit our shores and only last week had a nasty tumble on a slippery slope on a wild part of his local common, when his Crocs slipped out from beneath him. He had to be licked back to consciousness by his dog.
Now, I can completely understand someone being prepared to take a tumble for the sheer joy and vanity of wearing a pair of Jimmy Choos.
But a pair of Crocs? The footwear guaranteed to make you look like one of Snow White's stumpier dwarves? Never.
So let's get down to the reason people give most often for wearing them - sheer comfort. If shuffling around in a pair of ill-fitting, flatfooted Jiffy bags is your idea of comfort, then you are beyond reasoned help.
Without support and structure, they're about as comfy as an old tyre. And for anyone with bunions, wearing Crocs are about as gentle as strapping a couple of cheese graters to the sides of your feet.
No, the only comfort on offer is that I am clearly not alone in my hatred of the wretched things.
There is now a wonderful website set up by like minded folk called ihatecrocs.com in which we non-believers can vent our spleen, and watch hilarious footage of Crocs being ceremonially burned and cut into tiny pieces.
Why such hatred? As one Crocs hater explains: 'They are exceedingly ugly, they are chunky, luridly coloured, perforated and, overall, an eyesore. They are to your eyes what second-hand smoke is to your lungs.' I couldn't have put it better myself.
As for the notion that Crocs will expand into global fashion domination, the mind boggles at what the new clothing range will feature.
Orthopaedic rubber vests? Foam comfy-pants? You think I'm joking? Surely the men behind Crocs always were.
They sat down with the original clumpy clog originally developed for wearing in spas, no doubt to avoid getting verrucas, made of waterproof, light-weight resin material and thought, we'll put a pair of crocodile eyes on them, make them in colour like Celery, Sienna, Cotton Candy, Sea Foam and Pearl, wait for a few fading celebrities to wear them, then Hey Presto, Houston we have lift-off.
According to Crocs Inc, its footwear 'saves lives and marriages'. (It even has a special colour for brides to wear down the aisle.) Enough of this lunacy! On its own website, Crocs Inc boasts: 'We're not just on your feet, we're on your minds.' No, chaps. You're off your heads and on my nerves.
God save us from the Croc! | the Daily Mail=