Updated: Jan 14
From Crocs to Merrels and Yeezy Foam Runners, foam footwear has continued to be a polarizing subject in contemporary fashion. The "so ugly that it's comforting" characteristic of Crocs has even inspired the likes of Demna of Balenciaga and Scottish fashion designer Christopher Kane, while others cannot stand the sight of them. Like it or not, it is clear that these squishy shoes are here to stay.
In 2022, mules, clogs, slides, and sandals took hold of a larger portion of the footwear market. Whether it is the lasting effects of the pandemic converting more people to homebody lifestyles or just the maximalist approach to casual comfort, the buzz around the algae foam material was rapidly growing.
Although Crocs and Merrells had dominated this niche market for years, the release of the Yeezy Foam Runners in 2020 boasted a futuristic design to push the silhouette toward the mainstream. What started out as an internet meme slowly gained popularity as the Yeezy line would release more colorways in conjunction with the Yeezy Slides.
Even Crocs took note of the growing need to appeal to a wider market. In 2021 Crocs teamed up with footwear designer Salehe Bembury on a set of recontextualized Crocs. With a new shape and fingerprint-inspired ridges, the silhouette brought new excitement and untapped potential to the brand. But others have not been as creative as Bembury putting their own spin on the material. The rumored Nike Calm Slides look like an internet mock-up adding a Swoosh to the Yeezy Slides while John Geiger, who recently settled a trademark infringement lawsuit with Nike, has also taken part in making his own yet familiar rendition.
Needless to say, the options for foam footwear are abundant and continuously growing. The potential for this malleable material leaves designers with a lot of room for creativity. It is also worth noticing that the concept of foam shoes stands outside of modern street fashion, currently existing in the nostalgic realm inspired by the '80s and '90s. We hope these shoes made from algae bring in new perspectives to progressive design that continues to push boundaries. In addition, with footwear experimenting in the 3D printing space and sustainability becoming more of an industry standard, the future of foam shoes seems very promising. If you have a pair or not, there is no rush to jump in on the action because it does not seem to be leaving any time soon.