Colorful Crocs attack the Midwest

Wednesday, March 30, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 9:51 a.m. CDT, Friday, July 11, 2008

Their bright colors and distinct look can be spotted a mile away. After gaining popularity in Colorado and then spreading to the coasts, Crocs shoes are showing up across the Midwest.

Crocs — ventilated waterproof clogs — have been around since 2002. The company has grown exponentially, according to Tia Williams, Crocs public relations executive. The shoes made their debut at the Miami Boat Show and were marketed as perfect for boating, water sports and beachwear.

Since then, the company has spread to retail stores and is looking to expand internationally for 2005.

Williams said she has found customers like the shoes most for their functionality and versatility.

Made of a patented Closed Cell Resin, the shoes are designed to warm and soften with body heat. The resin is also antimicrobial, which keeps them resistant to bacteria and fungus that can cause foot odor.

Designed for comfort and health, the shoes are slip-resistant and have orthotic heel support and built-in arch support. They are designed to fit loosely and comfortably.

Crocs cost $30 and come in 14 colors.

“No one can say, ‘Well, I don’t like the colors they come in,’ ” Williams said.

Katie Mellinger, an employee at Dryer’s Shoe Store, said the shoes have been popular since arriving in the store in October.

She said they were particularly popular during the holiday season when people bought several pairs in different colors to give as gifts.

According to Mellinger, the shoes transcend age and gender lines. She said they are being worn by kids and younger men and women as well as food service and health care professionals. Many women have also found they are a great gardening shoe because they can be hosed off when they get dirty.

“They’re really comfortable,” she said. “It feels like you are not even wearing anything.”

Mellinger also said the shoes have sold among soccer players, who are wearing the well-ventilated Crocs after taking off their cleats.

Dan Quinn, manager of American Shoe Store in Columbia, said Crocs should not be worn as an all-day shoe because it provides little support. He said he considers them more of a foot covering.

“They’re a little bit better than the jellies of the past,” Quinn said.

Williams said the shoes have also hit a nerve with the college segment as a fashion trend.

Regan Sanders, an MU student, bought a sage pair about a year ago. She said no one in St. Louis had them yet, and she thought they were unique.

Sanders said she wears them all the time and likes wearing them when walking to class as long as it’s not snowing or raining.

Although he thinks the shoes are a fad, Quinn said they are a fun fashion that will be around for a while.

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