This week, the “athleisure” movement ended, a sloppy excuse for fashion euthanized in a branded fashion swallow via poor people drag. How did this happen? By letting Crocs™ walk the runway.
It all happened at London Fashion Week. Otherwise brilliant designer Christopher Kane took on the burden of ending a trend by letting hideous Walmart fashion walk free: he made Fashion Crocs™. The shoes aren’t that bad (I kind of like them? Who am I?) but they are an ideological monstrosity, a luxury item crafted from literally something associated with the most unfashionable and most common. Crocs™ are not for the cool: they are for the tragic. This reclaiming is the highest form of selling out, something that has been years and months and weeks in the making as the fashion world and commercial world’s orbits have gotten too uncomfortably close.
So what is that timeline? How exactly did we reach this point? With a little research, let’s map the history of Crocs™ with the history of “athleisure.” This is not a thorough timeline but a sweeping gaze of big moments both in branded fashion and “athleisure,” with a bit of celebrity fashion thrown in because that is another form of branded fashion. The funny thing about looking at the timeline of things is that, while Crocs™ financially and culturally dies, fashion trends like “normcore” and “athleisure” rise, picking up common ephemera on the way out, thus rejuvenating the otherwise dead because of hashtag irony. Thus, the cycle continues.
In case you’re confused by Fashion Crocs™, this is your map. We did this to ourselves by attempting cool. Look in the mirror for blame, fashion hounds.
1937: Dunham’s Bait & Tackle is founded in Michigan, eventually turning into Dunham’s Athleisure, a Midwestern sporting goods store that now does business as Dunham’s Sports. This is seemingly the first recorded use of the word “athleisure.”
2001: A Juicy Couture™ tracksuit is designed for Madonna, introducing a new era of fashionable, branded, celebrity streetwear.
2002: Crocs™ debut.
September 18, 2004: Britney Spears has her Juicy Couture™ tracksuit wedding to Kevin Federline.
2005: Crocs™ debuts it’s crocodile mascot, “Duke.”
March 9, 2006: A patent for the Crocs™ shoe form is filed.
October 3, 2006: Crocs™ purchases Jibbitz™ to make Crocs Charms™, a way to bedazzle your Crocs™.
March 2007: The New York Times evolves the term “low performance” related clothing into “athleisure.”
November 4, 2007: Adidas instates National Tracksuit Day.
June 30, 2008: Christine Day, formerly of Starbucks, becomes President of Lululemon Athletica™.
July 2008: Tim Gunn describes Crocs™ as “a plastic hoof.”
September 22, 2008: Gap™ acquires Athleta™ for $150 million.
August 27, 2009: When asked if he wears Crocs™, André Leon Talley replied, “What are Crocs™?”
September 2009: A rabbi bans Crocs™ from Yom Kippur.
March 2010: Crocs™ debuts creepy sentient shoe mascot.
May 27, 2010: Crocs™ are named one of Time‘s 50 Worst Inventions.
June 2010: Crocs™ save a child’s life.
December 23, 2010: New York magazine debuts the word “athleisure” while covering the announcement of Hillary Swank’s clothing line.
January 13, 2011: Athleta™ opens first flagship store in Atlanta.
January 11, 2012: It’s declared that Crocs™ made over a billion dollars in 2011.
November 8, 2012: New York declares Crocs™ one of the ugliest shoes of all time.
July 17, 2013: Nike™ debuts Flyknits, which quickly become the low-high answer to dress shoes.
September 2013: Rihanna co-opts “Ghetto Goth.” The cycle of celebrity / branded culture eating street culture begins.
November 22, 2013: Noted Crocs™ lover Mario Batali orders 200 pairs of orange Crocs™ after the color was discontinued.
February 12, 2014: Melissa McCarthy’s Tammy trailer debuts. Her character wears Crocs™.
February 26, 2014: The word “normcore” is coined. The revolt of the common begins.
June 20, 2014: Juicy Couture™ closes all stores.
July 19, 2014: Karlie Kloss is interviewed about “ahtleisure.”
July 21, 2014: Crocs™ lays off more than 180, closes select stores.
September 2014: New York deems Crocs™ acceptable for “normcore,” part of fashion dies.
Late Fall 2014: Christine Day leaves Lululemon.
October 2014: “Health Goth” breaks it big, alt kids cry on the streets.
November 4, 2014: Jenna Lyons of J.Crew addresses “athleisure.”
November 5, 2014: Alexander Wang drops his sporty H&M collection.
February 2015: Cobrasnake officially switches roles from “party photographer” to “fitness guru.”
February 2015: Yeezy™ Season One for Adidas™.
March 12, 2015: Racked discovers that Lululemon resales for 1000% markups.
March 30, 2015: The word “dad bod” is coined.
May 5, 2015: The “couture body” is coined, meaning people in fashion are actually working out.
June 17, 2015: “Athleisure” reaches eventual sloven state as Adam Sandler and Kevin James adopt the trend.
June 24, 2015: Prince George wears Crocs™, sales go crazy.
July 2015: Rag & Bone releases men’s collection that is…basically all “athleisure.”
September 2015: Yeezy™ Season Two for Adidas™.
November 30, 2015: The word “athleisure” debuts on 1234KYLE5678.com.
February 2016: Christine Day is appointed Strategic Adviser at Adidas.
February 2016: Rihanna’s Fenty X Puma™ debuts at New York Fashion Week.
February 2016: Yeezy™ Season Three for Adidas™.
March 2016: Beyoncé drops Ivy Park with Topshop™.
August 2016: A.P.C.™ does “athleisure” with A.P.C.O.V..
September 7, 2016: Yeezy™ Season Four for Adidas™.
September 10, 2016: Alexander Wang’s Adidas line drops.
September 13, 2016: Under Armour™ buys into “athleisure.”
September 20, 2016: Fashion Crocs™ arrive at Christopher Kane’s London Fashion Week show, closing the circle of fashion.