Trend Alert: Did Prince George Make Crocs Cool Again?

(c) flickr/creative commons/jespahjoy

He may not even be two years old as yet and probably doesn’t have too much to say about what he is wearing, but Prince George is most certainly a style icon and a trend setter already, just like his mother the Duchess of Cambridge. Talent Management takes a look at just how influential this royal two-year-old prince is on the fashion industry.

The ‘George Effect’

The ‘George effect’ has been felt ever since the little prince made his first appearance outside the Lindo wing of St Mary’s hospital in London in July 2013, when the £12 (for a set of 4) swaddling cloth he was wrapped in sold out straight away. And ever since, whatever Prince George is spotted wearing or playing with quickly sells out — not just in the UK but all over the world.

Until recently, George had largely been seen in classic smart little boy’s clothes by European quality brands. This all changed last month when he was photographed wearing Crocs at the Festival of Polo at the Beaufort polo club in Gloucestershire as he watched his father Prince William play a charity match. Whilst his father was immersed in polo, little George played with his mother while wearing his typical smart navy shorts and a cardigan. But on the little royal feet were those opinion-splitting foam clogs called Crocs. And all it took was a few shots of little George kicking football with his mother, climbing and then tumbling down a grassy hill wearing navy Crocs to make the shoes in toddler sizes sell out within hours.

A Corporate Sigh of Relief

The executives of Crocs Inc. must have let out a huge sigh of relief as the pictures emerged in global media. The past few years have been fairly tough on the company as consumers have fallen out of love with the rubber shoe. It’s the usual story in fashion; what’s hot today will be barely lukewarm tomorrow. Only last year the company had to take drastic measures to reduce workforce, scrap under-performing products, streamline operations and even close up to 100 of its 624 shops worldwide.

Could it be that a cute toddler prince has now turned around the company’s failing fortunes?

(c) flickr/creative commons/simon
(c) flickr/creative commons/simon

Prince George may have done to Crocs what no marketing campaign could have achieved, making them instantly desirable and fashionable again, at least among the kids whose parents are still in charge of their wardrobes. Consumers are proven to follow closely what their favourite celebrities are wearing, keen to get some of that glamour into their own lives. When celebrities wear something that is easily accessible and affordable, it can substantially boost the sales of the product, far more effectively than any advertising campaign.

Crocs: A Love/Hate Relationship

When Crocs first hit the big time nearly 10 years ago, everybody was spotted wearing them from Steven Tyler to Michelle Obama. The fashion world collectively rolled its eyes in the face of the popularity of what it described as the plastic hoof.

Despite their huge popularity back in 2007, Crocs have always remained an acquired taste. They’re practical and durable for nurses, shop assistants, chefs, backpackers and other people who are on their feet all day. And they’re brilliant to slip on when you are taking the bin out, popping to the corner shop to get a pint of milk, playing on the beach or in the privacy of your own garden. But many fashionistas claim are the ugly footwear that style forgot. (In fact, the shoes even made it to Time magazine’s ‘50 worst inventions ever’ list.)

However, since young George wore his £26 shoes with such aplomb, this is set to change. Suddenly what was previously deemed unattractive and practical but OK for the playground, is now fit for a future king. And not just in the garden but at a polo match, historically the natural habitat for well-dressed and well-heeled. We may see little boys and girls attending everything from their friends’ birthday parties to a family wedding in their clogs this summer.

Crocs are comfortable and practical. What they may lack in looks they definitely make up in wearability. The company has sold more than 1 billion pairs since they were launched in 2004, not to mention the countless cheap copies that are still popping up everywhere. People are still wearing them around the world despite the higher echelons of the style elite shunning the rubber slip-ons. Perhaps the George effect has changed this. Only time will tell.