Crocs on the Catwalk

  1. Maker of Funky Shoes Tries New Fashion Line
    By KRIS HUDSON of the WSJ​

    Crocs Inc., maker of the brightly hued plastic clogs that surged to popularity last summer, is quietly planning a surprising strategy aimed at avoiding fad status: a bold step into everything from women's fashion footwear to apparel.

    Crocs' plans, which the company executives described in interviews, marks the footwear maker's most significant departure yet from the funky, perforated clogs for which it is globally known.

    The new line, due in stores this fall, will feature little of the company's proprietary Croslite material, a water-resistant plastic resin that produces a shoe that is both comfortable and durable. Rather, Croslite is relegated to the foot beds of the nine new fashion styles, which feature wedge heels, leather, suede and lamb's wool. The fashion models are expected to sell for $70 to $200, well above the $30 price of Crocs' standard clogs.

    Among the other styles Crocs will debut this year are women's strap sandals, women's flats, tennis shoes and men's and children's apparel incorporating Croslite or material like it. Crocs' primary models -- the Beach and the Cayman -- now represent less than half of its sales, down from nearly 87% in 2005.

    Crocs Chief Executive Ronald Snyder concedes that Crocs' early shoes may prove to be a fad. "That might be the case, but we probably won't know that for a number of years," he says. "By that time, Crocs will be a very large company with a lot of different brands under the Crocs umbrella."

    Crocs has established its manufacturing and distribution operations on every major continent and now sells its shoes in 18,000 retail locations world-wide. It signed licensing deals to decorate its shoes with the logos of professional and college sports teams as well as the characters of Walt Disney Co. and Viacom Inc.'s Nickelodeon.

    In recent months, it acquired an Italian shoe company, a surfwear-sandal company and a maker of charms that adorn the vent holes in its clogs.