Monday, October 11, 2010

Critical Shopper: Reviewing Shoes and Stores

The Crocs shoes I own. Many are surprised to find out they're made by Crocs.

Crocs are praised by many for their comfort and criticized for their looks. When one thinks of Crocs, one thinks of slip-ons with circular openings. Many also think of the controversy and dislike of Crocs, mainly for their looks.  (For more on this, see Comfort or Style—Can you have both?) Recently, the New York Times under its Critical Shopper column wrote a pretty negative piece about Crocs. This column has run into to trouble before, writing a scathing review of JC Penney’s opening in Manhattan.

The Crocs article, by Jon Caramanica  in its style section criticized Crocs, especially their store in New York City’s fashionable SoHo. Caramanica calls the store, “the neighborhood’s Achilles’ heel.” Furthermore he calls the brand’s ABF flip-flop, “One of the flip-flops, the ABF (for “almost barefoot”), with its single-injected bulbous swoops, could pass for a cousin — an extremely distant one, several times removed, and estranged from the family — of the shoes Zaha Hadid designed for the Brazilian shoemaker Melissa a couple of years ago.” About another pair of flip-flops, Caramanica wrote, “ pair of flip-flops that looked like a withered bathmat sandwiched between two unforgiving slabs of Croslite” Under cost, he wrote, “Cheap, in dollars (or euros, or yen); the tax on the soul has not yet been measured.”

Throughout the article, Caramanica claims that the Crocs store only caters to tourist. He wrote, “This is a store designed completely for export. It might as well be duty-free.” However, he gives no evidence, besides the nation-themed shoes in a window display. As a native New Yorker, I have walked into the SoHo store to examine the selection. Being a bargain shopper, I have chosen to purchase my pairs of Crocs at below list from discounters, like Century 21 and If the Crocs SoHo store was having a sale I would definitely be tempted to buy a pair.

Caramanica’s article appeared in the Critical Shopper column, which in August 2009, wrote a scathing review of JC Penney’s opening in Manhattan., with quotes such as “J. C. Penney has always trafficked in knockoffs that aren’t quite up to Canal Street’s illegal standards. It was never ‘get the look for less’ so much as ‘get something vaguely shaped like the designer thing you want, but cut much more conservatively, made in all-petroleum materials, and with a too-similar wannabe logo that announces your inferiority to evil classmates as surely as if you were cursed to be followed around by a tuba section,’” and “To this end, it has the most obese mannequins I have ever seen. They probably need special insulin-based epoxy injections just to make their limbs stay on.”

The JC Penney’s article made the New York Times receive so much flack that Executive Editor Bill Keller said he wish it had not been published (Hoyt, 2009).

The Crocs article did not receive the same level of controversy, probably because of two factors. One, it did not insult a specific segment of the population, as the JC Penney’s article did to overweight Americans. Also, Crocs are a controversial shoe disliked by many.

Caramanica’s Crocs article did include some praise of the brand, saying they made him feel peaceful and relaxed. Wilson’s JC Penney’s article did also note how JC Penney’s carried sizes for anyone, including larger-sized Americans.

These articles show how one must be careful in reviewing fashion. If the New York Times, a prestigious paper, can receive flack for its coverage, any member of the media could. Now, fashion has become much more personal, with many people choosing to wear what they like and what suits them instead of blindly following trends. It great because it all for more creativity and uniqueness. However, those who review fashion must be more sensitive.

What do you think about these articles? Were you offended? Do you wear Crocs or shop at JC Penneys? Tell me what you think

Related Posts:


Caramanica, J. (2010). Standing proudly, in foam shoes. New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2010 from

Hoyt. C. (2009). The insult was extra large.  New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2010 from

Wilson. C. (2009). Playing to the middle. New York Times. Retrieved October 10, 2010 from

No comments:

Post a Comment