Basically, I think gladiator sandals are the "it was a dark, stormy night..." of contemporary shoes in that they're where all the horror begins; because since they burst onto the scene a couple springs ago, store buyers, fashion magazines, especially celebrities have been trying to convince me that I just want to add more and more leather to my sandals, but I don't actually want to close the toe. I can come as close to closing the toe as I want as long as there's some sliver of toe area still visible, but obviously I don't want to go and compromise the "airiness" of a sandal. I mean, hey, okay, fine, gorgeous:
You win. I understand that wanting to be Chloe Sevigny is a heady thing and I'm no stranger to the allure of aspirational lifestyles, as I keep thinking I need an all-white linen summer suit like a lady in a Ralph Lauren ad (and are you really going to be the one to argue with me?), but at least my summer suit is going to be season appropriate, is what I'm saying. The feeling I get from these hard-pushed shoes is that the people behind them know they make no sense, but they're going to get the square peg through the round hole at Urban Outfitters and you're going to love the cankles you didn't even know you could optically create, end of story.
But then things get even more sinister. Because someone out there was like, "Hey, if we've gotten everyone on board with these 'sandals,' then what can't we do with footwear narratives?" And that's when you end up with an advertising department that no longer sees the ethical as well as intellectually insulting implications of putting something like this out into the world:
I say "ethical" because let's just say there's someone out there who's going to see this and actually believe that "star" actresses (besides Kathy Bates, okay) are attending their auditions in the "Lydia," which is basically the shoe that every spinster headmistress of every filmic 1950s "girls' school" wears to signify her "life" is cruel and OVER except these new versions are in rubber, and then let's say the someone tries to replicate the successful actress fantasy with this shoe- well, then the Crocs company has just performed the footwear equivalent of selling the Brooklyn Bridge. And I say "intellectually insulting" because yes, yes, I know popular culture is trying to convince me the word "retard" is out of fashion, but there's no better way to say this to the Crocs people: do you think I'm retarded?
If you're having an image crisis because everyone thinks your shoes are ugly, Crocs, it's because they're ugly. For some people who can rise above ugly, like those super into sustainable farming, this is totally irrelevant. And that's your customer. Cultivate that community. Figure out how you can better serve them! But it really demeans you (particularly considering reputation-wise, you didn't have very far to fall from) to lie about what your shoes are and where they can go without potentially hurting women's career opportunities. The worst part is that I don't believe you believe the lie. I believe McDonalds thinks Chicken McNuggets are delicious. Because they are delicious. But I think you know that nobody, nobody is showing up to their Wednesday photo shoot in the pink "Lady" (again, side note: what does showing toe even ACHIEVE here?????) and that if any star were to show up to her Saturday fitting with her professional stylist in the plum "Olivia," that stylist would be like, "What are you trying to do Jennifer Garner?? Drag my name through the fucking mud?!"
This is a real thing you can buy.