The death knell may have just sounded for the most divisive shoe since the Birkenstock. The Wall Street Journal reports that Crocs plans to lay off 180 of its 5,000 employees. It also plans to discontinue leases on 75 to 100 of its stand-alone stores, and eliminate up to 40% of its lower-selling styles (boots and dress shoes), focusing instead on casual Crocs.
Crocs is, of course, famous for its holey, clunky clogs that became a hit in 2002 — thanks in part to early adoption by Mario Batali, who famously owned 30 bright-orange pairs and purchased another 200 before that color was discontinued in 2013. So, clearly these things inspire loyalty.
Crocs' president, Andrew Rees, called his company's formal designs "too big a reach for the brand." WSJ also attributes Crocs' falling fortunes to "overexpansion." But, we think the renewed focus on clogs will be a great move. After all, Crocs still has a loyal following among gardeners and grade schoolers — and no one on the red carpet really wants to say "Oh, these patent leather lace-ups? They're Crocs, thanks."
Here's hoping this is the beginning of a turnaround, because to lose Crocs now — just as the urban hipsterati are turning to them instead of Birkenstocks for their normcore shoe needs — would be a tragedy. And, if nothing else, let this be a lesson to other currently-hip "ugly shoe" brands. If you start to see a Tevas store on every corner, the end may be nigh. (The WSJ)