platforcrocs
Photo courtesy Balenciaga

Platform Crocs and the commodification of irony

By Scott Christensen, October 10 2017 — 

High fashion has always been a place to push the boundaries of what is considered fashionable. But it’s also a place where trends reign supreme.

During Paris Fashion Week earlier this month, Balenciaga revealed its Spring 2018 collection. Among its assortment of fanny packs and work wear, Balenciaga revealed the most-discussed item of the new collection — platform Crocs.

Platform Crocs, donned in Balenciaga logo pins and embroidery, are a real thing that consumers will soon be able to purchase. If you’re wondering how it got to the point that an Italian fashion house decided that the meme of footwear would be a great fit for their collection, you have to understand a trend at large within modern fashion.

Currently, within the upper echelons of the fashion world, clunky and oversized sneakers that look like shoes a soccer dad would wear are booming. This harkens back to the styles of the ‘90s and early ‘00s, reminiscent of fashion’s current infatuation with rave culture of the same time period.

What used to be uncool is now cool, or at least designers want it to be. There has been a resurgence in the popularity of turn-of-the-century style within sub-cultures like skateboarding and hip-hop, with silk du-rags, baggy Dickies and even the clunky skate shoes of the time returning to the forefront.

Wearing Crocs is either a statement of irony or naivety. People wear them because they know the shoes are ugly and they’re making a statement, or because they’re blissfully unaware of the universal ridicule that Crocs are subject to. The fact that someone would buy a pair of these is ironic in itself, since the idea of wearing something that’s not cool to be cool is ruined by their recent adoption into high-end fashion.

There lies the core issue with the platform Crocs and the trend of ironic clothing within fashion. Designs reminiscent of clothes your mom would buy you at an outlet mall aren’t clever, they’re absurd. When a product costs hundreds of dollars but looks cheap and tacky, you aren’t cleverly making a fashion statement or being unique — you become the ironic subject of the situation. Perhaps that is Balenciaga’s intention with these — to be so meta that to even be talking about their platform Crocs is ironic.

Platform Crocs represent the further attempts of a fashion house desperately trying to ride the wave of ironic fashion statements. As far as the world beyond high fashion is concerned, platform Crocs are just another thing to scoff and laugh at.

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