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Queens Chronicle

Crocs Summer Shoe Trend Sweeps Queens

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Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2007 12:00 am

Many people on their feet all day wear them for comfort and softness. Some wear them because they’re what’s “in.” Still others sport them because they’re affordable and not too flashy. In fact, you might call them unusual. But regardless of the reasons for the craze, the all-purpose shoes known as Crocs are on the hip list.

Just take a look at what people of all ages are wearing on their feet, and you might notice the fashion trend that’s been growing steadily over the last few years.

Perhaps the most commonly worn sandal is the legendary Croc shoe known as the Beach. It’s the style that’s round at the front, with easy to recognize air holes on the top. Since as early as 2003, the Beach Croc — known colloquially as “the” Croc shoe — has been labeled as a fashion phenomenon in the footwear industry.

According to Octavio Herrera, general manager of the Modell’s Sporting Goods store, located on Steinway Street between 30th and 31st avenues in Astoria, men’s, ladies’, and children’s Crocs have all been doing well.

A few of the reasons offered by Herrera for their popularity are the shoes’ high level of comfort, the fact that they’re lightweight and the presence of a heel strap to allow for extra support.

He pointed out that kids’ Crocs were a hot seller in the beginning of summer, but, by late July, sales on the ladies’ Crocs were greatly improving. The men’s Crocs, Herrera said, were also scoring well at the cash register, especially in darker colors. For women and children, bright colors are the more popular choice.

“I haven’t yet, but I’m told I need to try them out,” said Herrera. “We have employees here who wear them and they tell me that they love them.”

üccording to the footwear’s official Web site, Crocs were first developed by three innovators in Boulder, Colo., with the intention of creating a new type of outdoor/boating shoe which would be both slip-resistant and contain a non-marking sole. Today,DCrocs footwear is sold in more than 80 countries around the globe.

Astoria resident Patricia Gomez, who owns a pair of blue Crocs, raved about the shoes that have taken her and other consumers by storm.

“They are very comfortable. I feel like I’m walking with nothing on my feet,” she said.

Gomez wears her Crocs everywhere, whether she’s at church, on the beach or on the job as a nurse in Manhattan.

“Everyone at the hospital wears them,” she said. “Doctors, nurses, patients …”

Gomez has bought Crocs and shoes that appeared to be Crocs at both $30 and $5, depending on the store. However, it was discovered at one variety store, also on Steinway Street, that the cheaper ones, by no great surprise, were merely imitation — not officially marked like the authentic Crocs sold in other retail chains. In some areas of Manhattan, imitation Crocs were selling on the street for about $3.

For Astoria resident Ximena Gambino and her son, Gianluca, the sandals are definitely worth trying.

“Last year, I remember seeing them and thinking how unusual they appeared,” laughed Gambino. “This year, we tried them and I have to say that I really recommend them for everyone.”

Gambino said she knew of some stores selling their own version of Crocs, but pointed out at least one advantage to buying the original brand. While Crocs are truly odor-resistant, she said, their imitators can and often do leave an odor after use.

In addition to their more practical advantages, Gambino said she enjoys decorating her son's Crocs with colorful charms known as Jibbitz. The charms are available in wide variety, and include everything from Disney characters, animals and flowers, to letters, numbers and flags. Jibbitz are easily attachable to each of the vented air holes found on the most popular type of Crocs.

Many older generation Croc users have given a thumbs up to the footwear’s therapeutic benefits. Some senior citizens with tired feet, arthritis, or other foot and back problems have provided testimonials on the official Web site that the design and comfort provided by Crocs have, indeed, relieved some of their pains. The fact that the shoes are slip-resistant and include an orthotic-molded foot bed are also noted as additional advantages.

Not everyone, though, is sold on the trendy shoe.

“They’re weird-looking,” said Middle Village resident Lisa Savillo. “I just don’t find the look of the sandal or the colors to be appealing.”

Savillo prefers traditional flip-flops to Crocs. “I’d rather wear something that is comfortable and looks good,” she said, “than something that might be comfortable and looks ugly.”

It is worth noting that the Crocs footwear company does make more than one style of shoe, as well as apparel and other accessories. Water-resistant boots, made of the same Croslite material as the original Crocs, are also part of their footwear line.

As for now, it looks like Crocs aren’t going away anytime soon, especially for those whose feet seem very pleased with the arguably odd-looking footwear. Then again, as with many products, only time will tell if Crocs will continue to step forward with ongoing success in the future — or if they’re destined to become just another passing fad.

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