Crocs is moving toward its primetime summer months. The shoe company, which has proven to be one of the most successful rebranding strategies in the last decade, is pushing sandals as its next big growth item and aims to quadruple sales in the category by 2026.
The comfort shoe firm — which produces a mix of viral collaborations and comfortable styles that suit the times — is now looking to do for sandals what it has and continues to do with its classic perforated clog. The timing seems ripe: Take a glance at any pool deck across the U.S. and it’s likely you’d spot a lifeguard wearing Crocs clogs.
Crocs launched its two-strap Classic Sandal style in 2021, which helped the company grow its sandals sales by nearly 30 percent within the fiscal year, the brand said.
The Classic Sandal adds to Crocs’ broader sandal family which also includes its slide and flip-flop designs — all of which it hopes will see a boosted profile this year. More generally, sandals are part of Crocs’ aggressive plan to reach $5 billion in annual sales by 2026.
In a bid toward hitting that target, last month Crocs launched a new “Cozzzy” iteration of its Classic Sandal with a fuzzy foot bed. The company sees this style as its big push for 2022, and is planning a consistent schedule of new color way releases.
“I think it’s one of the most important styles this year. It’s something we wanted to get after and believe it will make a ton of impact with the consumer,” Lucy Thornley, Crocs’ vice president of global trend, design and product management, said of the Cozzzy Sandal.
“I think if we pull back for a second, for us it’s really important to continue to be disruptive and engage with consumers by giving them fresh product. When I think about long-term growth strategy, I think about iconic extensions. We do really great stuff with the classic clog and we continue to innovate in the space. Now getting after sandals I think about the evolution of other silhouettes to bring into the brand as well.”
Crocs’ Classic Sandals have, as Thornley said, “a nice heel cup that feels enveloping,” but also has portholes at the top to affix the brand’s famous Jibbitz accessories, adding “a sense of self-expression.”
“The classic slide and classic sandal feel highly derivative of the original clog — people respond really well to them. They are best-selling — so almost one plus one equals three. It’s about how we take the cozy story that worked so well and combine it with what’s working in sandals to make a strong proposition from a strategic perspective,” said Thornley.
Crocs now appears to be internally gearing up for its next steps of expansion. The company has made significant investments in new hires — like appointing Reebok’s global product manager of collaborations and fashion Ryan Forsyth as its new senior global product manager for collaborations and former Maria Tash PR director Nadine Korioth as its new manager for global consumer public relations.
Thornley, who holds Crocs’ highest creative design position, said of these investments: “We have definitely been able to attract some incredible talent to the brand and be really purposeful. We want people that are a strong cultural fit for the team and we now have people we incredible expertise; we are very fortunate to attract a lot of talent right now.”
Looking back at Crocs’ wider rebrand, which she helped spearhead, Thornley said that early collaborations with brands like Balenciaga and Christopher Kane were game changers. “They were so important because they truly shifted perception for the consumer. They were able to take something ordinary and make it extraordinary. We continue to think disruptively and from a super high fashion perspective,” she said.
But the company is equally steadfast in appealing to a non-fashion consumer. “For us it’s important to continue to engage with a variety of consumers. We look at different consumer types and want to design for them, both fashion, more sport-driven, for the beach. The clogs speak to a variety of consumers and that’s why they are disruptive,” said Thornley.
Regardless of pandemic reopenings, however, one thing remains consistent: Consumers want comfortable shoes. “Over the pandemic people really responded to comfort and cozy, but I will say at Crocs we don’t believe that only became relevant during the pandemic. Comfort doesn’t mean boring — we really believe shoes can be comfortable and super bold and expressive. Now you can make a statement back in the world without wearing something that’s not comfortable. You can be comfortable and stylish,” Thornley said.