The past 16 months have been full of surprises. One example: Crocs are not only tolerated, but they’re cool.
In early June, the original “ugly shoe” brand launched a collaboration with Diplo that quickly sold out. Highsnobiety’s headline on the collab was “Diplo’s Crocs propelled me into an existential crisis.” They were, it should be noted, decked out with Crocs’ trademark Jibbitz — the decorative accessories used to customize the brand’s styles. For Diplo’s iteration, they were psychedelic, glow-in-the-dark mushrooms. Prior Crocs collaborations with Justin Bieber and Post Malone have also sold out, and a collaboration with Bad Bunny sold out in 16 minutes.
The spate of high-profile partnerships has worked to create buzz. “Collaborations have allowed us to start a new dialogue,” said Heidi Cooley, svp and CMO of Crocs. “They enable us to make the most out of the tension and polarization that surrounds our brand. Each collaboration is unique and even unexpected.”
Now, on the heels of a successful co-branded giveaway with Crocs on Instagram last year, Benefit has become the first beauty brand to collaborate with Crocs. The giveaway exceeded expectations: Benefit gained 14,000 followers on Instagram and Crocs gained 10,000. “That’s when we realized that collaborating with Crocs, whose motto is ‘come as you are’ and that everyone should be comfortable in their own shoes, aligns with our core values and brand. The audience felt the same way,” said Jenn Whipple, Benefit Cosmetics’ vp of U.S. marketing.
“We’re two brands unafraid to take risks and make noise. We knew that we needed to be the first-ever beauty brand to have a partnership with the brand,” Whipple said. The resulting shoes are hot pink, to match Benefit’s branding, and feature iconic Benefit products — like its Gimme Brow brow gel and a Benefit handheld mirror — in Jibbitz form. There are two styles in the collaboration: Crocs’ Classic Clogs, for $69.99, and Classic Sandals, retailing for $49.99.
In tandem with the launch, the two brands are hosting a social challenge across TikTok and Instagram Reels using the hashtag #benefitofcrocschallenge. “[We’re] bringing that humor and that fun. Crocs and Benefit are inviting all customers to do a typical makeup routine when joining this challenge, but there’s a catch: You have to do your beauty routine wearing Crocs on your hands,” Whipple said. To kick off the challenge, the brands partnered with influencers like Mariale (6 million followers on Instagram) and MannyMUA (4 million followers on Instagram). Those partaking are entered to win a press package that includes the shoes from the collaboration, as well as Benefit products.
It would be unfair, however, to suggest the advent of Crocs began in 2020. Believers have always sworn by the foam clogs’ comfort level. They’ve also made runway appearances: In 2016, Christopher Kane presented a collaboration with the brand. In 2018, Balenciaga created a platform edition, which received ample criticism. That didn’t stop Balenciaga: It once again showed Crocs, in platform welly boot form, on its spring 2022 runway. In April, Questlove wore a gold pair to the Oscars. Even Ariana Grande wore them, back in 2019.
And now, they’re showing up in street-style pics from fashion weeks in Milan and Paris for the current spring 2022 menswear collections. On June 30, Vogue.com writer Emily Farra wrote, “You’ll notice very few heels…Instead, there were Birkenstocks and, gasp, Crocs.” At this point, however, the “gasp” is more tongue-in-cheek. In the recent street style pics, classic white styles have been most prevalent. On July 3, Vogue UK asked, “Are you ready for a Croc girl summer?”
Crocs has been smart about its influencer strategy, using content creators who are excited about the brand. Take Bretman Rock (8.7 million followers on YouTube), who 10 months ago posted joyfully when he made it on Crocs’ PR list. He is now an official brand ambassador, working with the brand in a paid capacity.
Body acceptance advocate and influencer Katie Sturino is also an ambassador. Around April 2020, she often wore a white pair embellished with a strawberry pattern that became popular during the early months of the pandemic. She became an ambassador in January 2021.
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“We stay top-of-mind by having genuine, two-way conversations with our fans, especially on social media. By speaking with them, not at them, we can be there when they need us and continue to better understand what they want to see from Crocs,” said Cooley.
The company has seen massive growth: First-quarter revenue grew 64% year-over-year to $460 million. According to Tribe Dynamics, Crocs collected $46 million in EMV from March 2020 to May 2021. This is a 37% year-over-year increase. Crocs’ top five EMV drivers between March 2020 and March 2021 were Justin Bieber, Bretman Rock, Priyanka Chopra, Hypebeast and Post Malone.
The Benefit x Crocs collaboration will be available for purchase on July 13 at noon EST on Crocs’ website.
Of the latest unexpected collaboration, Whipple said, “We’re expecting a very, very quick sell-out. We’re not expecting this to last long.”