Island Stylin’

Crocs: Hot or Not?

By SANDRA WEYANT | Aug 22, 2017
Photo by: Jack Reynolds

Chances are, no matter your age, you’ve heard of Crocs. After 15 years on the market, Crocs are still the most hotly debated choice of footwear. The foam-rubber shoe with perforations on top has been the butt of many jokes for quite some time, but Sandy Brecher, owner of Tropics, a clothing boutique in Beach Haven, says that if people could get past the appearance of the shoes, they would understand why so many others can’t live without them.

“Once you get people to put them on, they are usually sold on them. Looks are deceiving when it comes to the original shoe. You can’t tell they will be as comfortable as they are.

“It’s all about the comfort. Everybody has to find the best design for their feet,” Brecher said.

Crocs emerged onto the fashion scene in 2002, originally to be worn as a boating shoe, and there have been mixed emotions about their rise in popularity. Most people associate the brand only with the wider clog prototype, but Crocs have come a long way and there are now hundreds of styles for men, women and children that cater to all different lifestyles.

“A lot of the Crocs vary in style, but the footbed remains the same, and it is super spongy and comfortable. Now they even have shoes for narrower feet, and you can see it in the sleek design. Some people like them high, some people like them low and some in between, and you can now have them any way you want,” Brecher said.

Her store, situated in the heart of Bay Village, boasts a variety of clothing and shoe brands, but her top sellers year after year are Crocs. In fact, Brecher has devoted the entire second floor of her shop to create a Crocs display, including an array of bright colors and neutral designs. She didn’t always sell Crocs at Tropics, but when customers visited her store and frequently asked for them, she decided it was time to include them in her inventory. She spent a lot of time and effort hand-selecting the most unusual styles for her boutique.

“As the economy changed, less and less people were buying higher lines of children’s clothing. I wasn’t going to change my clothing selection to compete with large retailers like Walmart. I’m a boutique, and I always wanted my products to be original, one-of-a-kind pieces, so that’s when I decided to change direction and add Crocs to my store,” Brecher said. “Now, we have people specifically coming here for them. Every year, it’s a lot of the same families that are vacationing, and they come in the summer and tell me they can’t find a selection like ours anywhere. We’ll even do special orders for customers and ship out to them.”

With more than 100 styles in-store, Tropics is known to have the biggest assortment of Crocs in Ocean County and, perhaps, in the entire state of New Jersey, even more than the brand itself. “People never knew about all of the different styles. More people come in and pass the word around. They bring their friends and show more people our selection. Sometimes we have shoes left over from a discontinued line, and you won’t be able to find those anywhere else but in my store. We keep them from season to season, and they keep selling,” Brecher said.

Don’t knock ’em till you try ’em – and Brecher assures that you won’t be disappointed.

The Height of Fashion. Rise and shine in statement heels that can be worn from the beach to the office. Choose between peep-toe and closed-toe styles, stilettos and wedges.

Flat-out Fabulous. Dress up your look. Crocs come in fancy flats with elegant hardware, such as beads and metal accents.

Summer Sandals. Yes, sandals with support do exist. Whether you prefer thong flip-flops or strappy sandals, there’s something for everyone.

Whatever Floats Your Boat. The most versatile boating shoe, laces and all, is 100 percent waterproof and mimics the look of richer materials, such as suede. Stay out all day on the water without worrying about damaging your shoes.

Live in Loafers. Timeless work or casual shoes made even more comfortable and stylish for men of all ages … who would have thought that was possible? Loafers are also available in leather, suede or canvas for more-professional options.

“More men are buying them now than ever before, sometimes two or three pairs at a time. Men have always been about comfortable shoes. They don’t wear uncomfortable shoes for style. They won’t suffer for the beauty of it like women do, so these are perfect for them,” Brecher said.

Hog the Clogs. Keep it classic with the original clog that features the roomiest fit for your feet and adjustable straps to loosen or tighten on your heels.

For the Little Ones. Kids’ clogs and shoes feature their favorite Disney characters, adorable prints and vibrant colors. Many men’s and women’s styles are replicated to fit children, so the whole family can sport the same shoes. Kids also gravitate toward fun Jibbitz, small decorations for the holes on their shoes.

“Sometimes I sell more Jibbitz than actual shoes. People love decorating their shoes and making them their own. First it was more for children, but now adults are doing it, too. They have letters to make your initials or fun images to express yourself,” Brecher said.

Boots Made for Gawking. Enjoy rubber rain boots for the whole family! The mid-shin design keeps feet dry while walking or playing in puddles. Kids’ boots have convenient on-off loops to help put them on and take them off more easily.

Docs Support Crocs. When Crocs made its debut, the shoes were predominantly worn in the medical field by nurses and doctors.

“Crocs are designed by foot specialists,” Brecher said. “We actually have podiatrists sending their clients here to get a few pairs instead of getting custom-made sneakers that weigh a ton and are difficult to walk in. They usually turn into forever-buyers. Once you go Crocs, you never go back.”

Crocs are also popular among chefs and servers, who spend the majority of the day standing and walking around. Orange clogs have become renowned chef Mario Batali’s signature footwear. They turned out to be a hit, and the footwear company responded by making them in black as well.

Brecher has declared Crocs as the perfect shoes for a relaxed beach lifestyle. “You can wear them to the beach and then out to dinner. You can wash them or wipe them off because the foam material is easy to clean. I have some customers who put them in the washing machine. You can also wear them straight from the beach into an outdoor shower. You don’t have to worry about getting them wet or getting sand out of them.

“It’s the best for kids. The water and sand goes right through the holes. People wear them everywhere now. They’re lightweight, comfortable and perforated so they don’t retain any odors. I could go on and on.” 

Brecher and her husband, Howie, also have owned beach boutique Coconuts in both Ship Bottom and Beach Haven for the past 15 years, and sell a little bit of everything for the perfect beach weekend. From clothes, hats and beach bags to beach chairs and suntan lotion, Coconuts is the go-to store for beach essentials and LBI-branded clothing and merchandise. Coconuts in Ship Bottom also features an exclusive collection of high-quality plus-size apparel and swimwear.

“For a while, the only customer we didn’t have was the college-aged person, but now we have those, too. If something becomes popular at a college, they become popular in general. A lot of the crew teams wear the original clogs, and now you’ll see more and more Crocs on college campuses. Everyone is buying them,” Brecher said. Depending on the materials, Crocs range in price from $30 to $75, which also makes them more appealing to their wearers.

Brecher is in the process of stocking up on Crocs for next summer. Her stores typically remain open until Thanksgiving weekend, so stop by and check out the impressive assortment – it is all that it is croc-ed up to be! Visit shopcoconuts.com to view store hours and shop a small selection of products.

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