Pretty ugly, silent scream, seriously funny and terribly good are a few of the oxymorons that come to mind when reacting to what we honestly thought was an online joke.
Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots.
When it comes to contradictory figures of speech that can rile a Wyoming cowboy, it would be difficult to find one that would do the job better.
Turns out the socially divisive Colorado-based hipster footwear brand is really making cowboy boots out of Crocs. They even have spurs.
What’s The Deal With Crocs
It would be difficult to find a footwear brand that draws as much ridicule and condemnation for someone as owning a pair of Crocs.
Millions will attest to their comfort and practicality, but that has never been enough to improve their reputation in popular culture.
Nevertheless, Crocs Inc. has sold millions of pairs of their rubbery slip-on “shoes.” They lean into their polarizing reputation by offering Crocs covered with fur and partnerships with major brands like the NBA, Star Wars and Pokémon. There's even a pair with Shrek ears.
But the company’s newest novelty release might be a step too far and will likely inspire many Wyomingites to give Crocs the boot for good.
They're Real ... ly Silly
Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots go on sale on Oct. 23 for $120 a pair. Each comes with a Croc Star, a 2023 Cowboy Duke Jibbtiz charm and “plenty of room to add your own personalization,” according to the company.
“This limited-edition Croctober boot features a signature Crocskin texture, metallic disco desert embroidery details, and a spinning spur on the back so you can really kick up some dirt,” reads the official descriptions on the Crocs website.
Ask any real Wyoming cowpuncher and he’ll tell you — there’s nothing more ruggedly Western than a well-worn hat, giant belt buckle and boots with “metallic disco desert embroidery details.”
Despite not being available for purchase yet, Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots already have a star rating of 4.6 out of 5 on the company’s website.
The reviewer StylishGambino from “LA duhh” says they are “like the love child of John Wayne and the marshmallow man from Ghostbusters” while conceding “they're so confused about their identity that they've become the fashion equivalent of an existential crisis.”
“Existential crisis” is an oddly appropriate way to describe Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots. There’s an inexplicable allure to the cowboy boot, which Crocs has attempted to recreate in rubber footwear with the Crocs signature holes in them.
But there’s more to a pair of boots than a fashionable look (although there are no corners of the Wyoming universe where Crocs are considered fashionable).
A True Cowboy Boot Legend Reacts
A journey for cowboy boots in Wyoming usually means visiting the legendary Lou Taubert Ranch Outfitters in Casper, open for business and cowboy boot buyers since 1919. With more than 10,000 boots in stock, there’s something for everyone.
By reputation and history, nobody on the planet knows more about cowboy boots than Lou Taubert’s.
If there is an allure to Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots, Louis Taubert Jr. doesn’t get it. He also probably won’t stock them.
“I’ll say they're unique,” he told Cowboy State Daily about the brand’s attempt to tap into the Western wear market. “I won’t say never, but I don’t think I’d buy them to sell in my store.”
Lou Taubert’s can sell anywhere from 10 to 40 pairs of authentic cowboy boots every day. Even with a highly diverse customer base, Taubert can’t see anyone wanting a rubber imitation cowboy boot when they come to Wyoming to get the genuine article.
“If they made a pink Cowboy boot Croc, I bet Jeffree Star would buy it, but that might be the only pair I sell,” he said. “I can’t say I wouldn’t have a customer for that, but I’m not going to gamble and buy them.”
Jim Allen, an outfitter and rancher on the Diamond 4 Ranch in Lander, can’t stop laughing at the prospect actually doing anything cowboy-related in Crocs boots.
“It cracks me up,” he said. “Let’s say this: let the free market decide. They’re either going to be a hit or not. I just don’t see the point.”
Allen knows the first thing that’d pop into his mind if someone showed up on his ranch wearing a pair of Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots.
“I’d know they weren’t ready for the hunt,” he said.
About The Boots
In the 21st century, cowboy boots are as much a fashion statement as practical footwear. In Wyoming, it’s hard to look at Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots without reflecting on the legacy of cowboy boots, especially in a state where they continue to serve their intended purpose.
“Cowboy boots were functional pieces of equipment for the cowboy, but they aren’t just for the cowboy,” Taubert said. “It’s a lifestyle that’s comfortable. But cowboy boots are unique in the way they fit and that they’re so functional.”
Finding the perfect pair of cowboy boots isn’t too dissimilar from putting on Cinderella’s slipper. That’s why Taubert isn’t worried about losing his boot business to Crocs or other brands that can be ordered online. Finding the right fit is essential and can’t be replicated on Amazon or the Crocs website.
“If you’re fit properly and sized right, I think cowboy boots aren’t comparable to any shoe you put on your feet,” he said. “Most of the people we like to sell to are those who are going to wear them all the time. Picking the right styles for your customers is so important. It’s not what the boot costs. It’s how it fits.”
Crocs are universal. Buy a pair in your size, and they fit as well as they fit. Cowboy boots are in direct opposition to that concept. Each pair fits differently and is uniquely suited to the person wearing them.
“If you can’t fit a boot right, there’s no use being in the boot business,” Taubert said. “And we honestly try to fit boots rather than sell them. I wouldn’t buy a pair over the internet. I’ve got to be there to touch them, feel them, see what they look like and have somebody fit me. Probably a good reason we’ve been in business for 104 years.”
Allen also casts a critical eye on the design of Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots. Two essential elements of the cowboy boot are the iconic pointed toe and heel, which aren’t trendy features or fashion statements.
“Most traditional cowboy boots have a pointy toe so you can find the stirrup without bending over and finding it with your hand or eyes,” he said. “When you get on the horse, you just need to shove (your boot) into where the stirrup should be and have it go in. The heel prevents the boot from going all the way through the stirrup. If you get bucked off and your leg is through the stirrup, you can get dragged to death.”
Cowboy boots are practical and iconic because of the pointed toe and heel. Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots have a rounded toe and absolutely no heel.
Allen would never let anyone wearing Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots mount a horse, even with the detachable spur.
“For me and most ranch-type people — including outfitters and trail guides — the safety and comfort of cowboy boots are a must-have,” he said.
Even so, Allen doesn’t condemn Crocs. He recommends them for a very specific purpose.
“We often recommend Crocs for camp shoes,” he said. “When you are on your feet or even in the saddle all day wearing boots, it’s nice to let your feet have a little relief. Traditional Crocs are really good for that. They breathe, are lightweight and don’t take up much room, are waterproof and you don’t have to wear socks.”
But Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots in the Wyoming backcountry?
If it sounds absurd, that’s because it is, Allen said.
“For one thing, if you’ve been wearing boots all day, why would you want to pull on a pair of boots?” he said. “Those things look like they come up 8 or 9 inches. The whole point of camp slippers is a minimum amount of chaffing on your legs and feet. The original Crocs make sense. The Cowboy Boot Crocs ... what’s the point?”
It’s A Croc
Most likely, Crocs Inc. never intended Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots to have any Wyoming practicality. They are a novelty fashion statement open to criticism the company likes to lean into.
Nevertheless, Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots are worth a chuckle or two as a surreal imitation of the authentic cowboy boot. Allen certainly wouldn’t recommend anyone on his ranch “kick up some dirt” in Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots.
“For me, everything is all about function. You can work in cowboy boots and go out on the town,” he said. “I wouldn’t want to wear Cowboy Boot Crocs in the corral in the spring and fall when it’s really muddy or in the snow. There’s no point.”
Taubert recognizes that people want fashionable cowboy boots and he stocks plenty of styles for people from all walks of life.
“We have some pretty fancy ladies' boots: rhinestones, embroidery and all sorts of designs. We have boots that range from $100 to $2,000,” he said.
He can also confirm no boots in Lou Taubert’s are made of imitation rubber crocodile skin.
But Taubert thinks he knows the perfect customer for Crocs Classic Cowboy Boots.
“I’d have to see it to really understand it. But since I know what Crocs are, I can’t visualize many people wearing (them) unless they’re from California or the East Coast,” he said. “Looks like the perfect type of footwear for them.”
Andrew Rossi can be reached at email@example.com.