Ugly is the new black

Comfort and style are merging to give consumers the best of both worlds


photo by Sarah Gibson


Six years ago, senior Caroline Garrison bought a pair of Chaco sandals for summer camp and time outdoors. Now Crocs, Birkenstocks, Chacos and Tevas can be seen walking down any hallway on campus. Favored by everyone from camp counselors to cheerleaders, these notoriously “ugly” shoes have popped back into the world of fashion with innovative designs and more updated looks.

Ugly shoes are becoming a sort of fashion statement, and the days of sacrificing comfort for looks are over, though they are still opposed by some.

“I honestly would never wear any of those shoes,” senior Caitlyn Zibell said. “Even if it is a trend, those shoes are too ugly for me.”

The original two-strapped “Arizona” Birkenstock sandal sells for $99.95, and with many of the more stylish spin-offs like pink, metallic or even snakeskin costing up to $160, it can be a hefty price to pay for a shoe many people deem hideous. However, the price does not seem to waiver potential buyers.

“I love my Birkenstocks because they are super comfy,” senior Aliza Eubanks said. “They also look great with some of my outfits.”

Another member in the clog family are Crocs, retailing at $34.99. Someone once said “Looks aren’t everything,” and it’s reasonable to believe they were referring to these shoes. Made of foam rubber, these durable clogs with holes for breathability provide the comfort factor at a lower cost than Birkenstocks, if one is able to get past the appearance.

“I like my Crocs mostly because people make fun of me for them; That’s not going to stop me from wearing them,” junior Francesca Spadaro said. “What’s even better is when the people who used to make fun of me for wearing Crocs, buy them later on; I see them all throughout school.”

To up their image, Crocs have branched out to include sandals, flats, leather boots and yes, even heels. Also made from their trademark foam rubber, these fashionable finds redefine the brand of Crocs, and many of the styles appear far more appealing than the original clog.

uglyshoesgraphsNEWONLNESIDEBARdesign by Sarah Gibson

For some, Crocs have become a staple for school, work and athletic events. Popular among employees at Beef O Brady’s and Jeremiah’s Italian Ice, Crocs provide comfort for people who are constantly on their feet. Cheerleaders especially, along with other athletic teams, have made Crocs their footwear of choice for before practice and competitions: a way to bond as a team, which likely influences other students to wear these otherwise unattractive kicks.

“[Crocs] are so comfortable and great to wear on long days,” varsity cheerleader Savannah Hobbs said. “We had to dress up during school the day before our competition, and my friend changed from her heels into Crocs.”

Apart from clogs, ugly sandals have left the boundaries of summer camp to be worn year-round. No longer for “nature freaks” and avid adventurers, Tevas and Chacos market a variety of styles attractive to people regardless if they are hiking a mountain or hiking to class.

“I honestly don’t care if people don’t like my Chacos because I think they are so fun and they have taken me on so many adventures,” Garrison said.

These strappy sandals come in almost any color and can even be customized, if the $130 price tag isn’t a deterrent. Chacos, which are aimed toward function outdoors, come in multiple grips depending on the desired turf; however, the concrete slabs on campus will work with either. This brand, though mainly focused on durability, released a Grateful Dead line of sandals, and frequently switches up their patterns to continue drawing potential buyers.

“I chose to buy Chacos instead of Tevas because I think they are much cuter, plus they have more durability during camp,” Garrison said.

Rival sandal company, Tevas, arguably matches their ugly factor, however their cheaper $40-70 “Original Universal” sandals are taking on Birkenstock’s similar fashionably unattractive approach. Featuring straps with metallic leather, animal prints and pastels, these fashion forward ugly sandals are versatile and can be dressed up easier than their counterpart, Chacos.

Though there are still people who refuse to partake in this fad, people are continuing to redefine fashion with these eye-catching kicks. Function is becoming fashionable, while comfort and style are merging to give consumers the best of both worlds.

“[These shoes] make me feel like I’m walking on clouds,” senior Haley Parlette said. “The haters don’t phase me, because if they had a pair, they’d understand.”