Crocs are distinctive in many ways – the bright colors, the ventilation holes, not to mention the forefront of the shoe that looks something like the snout of a…crocodile. But without a doubt, one of the first characteristics of Crocs that people comment on is the material. Crocs are not made from rubber or plastic.
They are made from a material called “croslite” which is perhaps best described as foam resin. Croslite is made with ethylene vinyl acetate, the same substance that is used to make hot glue sticks and to add stretchiness to plastic wraps. (Ethylene vinyl acetate is sometimes referred to as foam rubber.) Croslite is unique because it changes shape when exposed to heat. This means that by wearing shoes made out of croslite, the shoes will gradually mold to the shape of the wearer’s feet.
The Crocs brand claims that this makes the shoes an excellent choice for people looking for custom orthopedic support, although podiatrists have a mixed reaction to the shoes orthopedic potential. Croslite is also a “closed-cell” material. This means that the “cells” or bubbles that make up the foam material are strong enough that you can walk on them without breaking the material. Croslite is also touted as anti-microbial, a characteristic that helps reduce foot odor and fight against microbes that cause bacterial and fungal foot infections. It is washable (some even say it is dishwasher safe) and easy to care for over the years.
Given the success that Crocs has reaped from its use of croslite, it is interesting to note that the brand actually bought the rights to the material from somebody else. The Canadian company Foam Creations developed croslite in order to produce slip-resistant clogs – similar to Crocs but without the backstrap. In fact, one of Crocs’ founders – Scott Semans – was wearing a Foam Creations’ clog on a vacation in the Caribbean when he and his two friends, George Boedecker and Lyndon Hanson – came up with the original idea for Crocs. In 2004, Crocs bought out Foam Creations and all rights to the croslite material.
In its first year of business, Crocs brought in only 1000 dollars worth of sales in the United States alone. Four years later, the company made more than 200 million per year and was selling Crocs in 40 countries. The marketing magic of the Crocs brand took an idea that started with Foam Creations and turned it into an international craze.