What do Pokemon cards, pre-worn sneakers, and Crocs have in common? All three have been pandemic success stories of what was old becoming popular again. In 2009, Crocs were flirting with bankruptcy, and the company’s CEO left four years later amid a lack of company focus and plummeting stock.
But after a $200 million “shot in the arm” from Blackstone Group in 2014, an aggressive turnaround strategy from the incoming CEO Andrew Rees, and some ringing celebrity endorsements, what was once ubiquitously considered an ugly shoe has now become the “it-shoe” of 2021.
In an interview with Investor’s Business Daily last year, Rees shared what drew him to take the CEO position with the flagging shoe company. “What I saw back in 2014 when I started with Crocs was … an incredible brand with incredible passion,” he said, “but with untapped potential.”
And since Rees has then helm, Crocs has done partnerships with rapper Post Malone, the Vera Bradley brand, and pop/R&B singer Justin Bieber. Even Questlove rocked a gold pair to the Oscars this year, officially certifying the footwear as hip enough for the mainstream again.
“Some [of our collaborations] are designed to attract new customers and to be able to market to them in the future,” he told analysts on an earnings call this past Tuesday. “And some of them are designed to be kind of interesting and buzzworthy. In 2021, we will do more international collaborations.” Interestingly enough, a limited-edition light-up “Lightning McQueen” set of Crocs, based on the Disney/Pixar character from Cars, sold out the same day.