Slickbacking in Crocs

Jardín Kim

Lead Korean Writer

A shopping mall opened nearby that’s iffy in many ways. Neither big nor small in size with stores selling products with iffy positioning. Confusing for shoppers, and it was no wonder that business was underwhelming from the get-go. With one exception: the Crocs popup store with a colorful array of cute Crocs that kids swoon over.

The first time my eyes beheld a pair of Crocs was in Canada. I thought, hmm, people in this country wear strange shoes. Footwear à la bucket full of holes. Crocs soon made their way to Korea and became popular. And I bought a pair too, pushing aside the tinge of shame in trying out a new trend after making fun of it. The bucket-full-of-holes idea made sense to me, perfect for the monsoon season. In fact, I learned that Crocs were first designed with holes to be used for surfing, made for both wet and dry terrains.

There are groups of people especially in love with this reptilian shoe brand: children, teens and hospital workers. The reasons for their popularity at healthcare centers, according to a dental care blog, are that they’re comfortable, safe, and hygienic. Then why do children love Crocs so much? Because they’re cute? Because they can have fun expressing themselves with Jibbitz charms? But there are signs in front of escalators warning children with rubber or foam-based shoes or sandals (c’mon, we all know you’re talking about Crocs).

Despite some safety concerns, children still love their Crocs, so much so that they insist on wearing them in winter. Plenty of moms vent online about how they could get reported for child neglect by sending their kids off to kindergarten in Crocs in the dead of winter. As necessity is the mother of a new product line, fuzz-lined Crocs flooded into the market.

Crocs are super comfortable as if you’re floating on air, and that now seems literally true. A middle schooler who received over 200 million views with his Slickback dancing was wearing Crocs. Oh, that Croc-wearing boy glides on air! It is said that the shoe company gifted everyone from his entire school with a pair of their shoes as a token of their heartfelt appreciation.
@wm87.4 한국원탑#slipback ♬ original sound - HYMU
After watching the video, this midlifer dusted off her old pair of Crocs. I took a sidestep, on the off chance that an elegant gliding would result. No such luck. It’s not the shoe but the person that makes floating on air possible, of course. I guess some things are way beyond me now, no matter how much I want to be a part of a trend. I was wondering why kids these days wear the same brand of puffer coat, shoes, and bags. Then it dawned on me that we, too, grew up wearing Polo hats and carrying Eastpak bags. With the collar up on our polo shirts. It was a time when you couldn’t help but follow a major new trend. And that is one trend that will never go out of style: our human tendency to seek novelty and a sense of belonging. Like me, the Croc-wearing, Slingback-dancing youth of today may take a nostalgic air-walk down the memory lane decades later.

Translator: Culture Flipper English Team
Original Content in Korean: