We are currently in the belle epoque of the modern performance clog. Appropriating blue-collar garments is nothing new; we’ve seen it with OSHA-approved Carhartt trousers (as seen on DPW workers, skaters, and streetwear fiends alike), and clogs are the new wave. The austere wooden shoe the Dutch hoi polloi invented for toiling on farms is officially played out. Instead, performance clogs—a hybrid between the sandal and the traditional clog—are all the rage in the urban landscape.
No longer used as protection for manual labor, today’s form of clog is manufactured with more unconventional materials, from AstroTurf to pleather to sometimes just plain plastic. For those who want the freedom of a sandal, the protection of a sneaker, and the old-school swagger of a loafer, performance clogs have been reimagined to help you navigate the rough terrain of the urban stratosphere—complete with their signature bulbous toe box. Instead of tending to livestock in wooden platforms, we wear suede clogs in colors like mocha or mauve to shop for factory-farmed chicken.
Besides Crocs, most performance clogs have converted to a flat sole, blithely removing the platform heel and leaving confused customers to decide of these hybrid creations: are they sandals or clogs? Those like Officine Creative are finding themselves on the wrong side of history by claiming that their leather slip-ons with a rounded, closed-toe are, in fact, sandals. Meanwhile, Rick Owens, the doyen of deathwear, has added a comma to the price tag and gets to have his “Black Island Clog Sandals” and wear them too; the designer’s interpretation strays from its progenitors with its open-toe and use of materials, including a tape vamp that looks as if it is made from a black ikea bag, while largely keeping the original form intact.
Top: Officine Creative, $470; Bottom: Rick Owens, $1,480
New York is no place for open-toe footwear, no matter how badly you may want it to be. When there’s even a one-percent chance you can get bitten by a rat, a closed toe is as necessary as a MetroCard. Even a quick jaunt to the bodega with your dogs out requires a chemical bath upon return. Lace up or slip on, but, whatever you do, don’t slide into flip-flops. Residents may pine for some Chacos come summertime, but the city’s daily grime is just too much to bear in a lowly pair of sandals.
So Interview decided to help out by coming up with our five favorite summer clogs—and telling you where you’ll be wearing them throughout our urban estate:
Chinatown Market X Crocs, $60
Washington Square Park
In 2019, what streetwear brand worth its salt hasn’t thrown their weight behind a collaboration with Crocs? Chinatown Market did it best with its Astroturf interpretation of the foam classic. As a downtown localite, you don’t want your shoes—or your ‘fit as a whole, for that matter—to go unnoticed. So, grab your board, skirt past the NYU lames, and get a poem written for you in style. Crocs are the Robert Caro of clogs and are appreciated by those who know their sartorial history.
Nicole McLaughlin, priceless
Greenpoint Community Garden
Whether you’re dripping paint or just too hard, these are a must-cop…if only you could. McLaughlin creates entirely upcycled products, ranging from lawn chairs made out of foam fingers to umbrellas made from Nike windbreakers and shorts. These clogs have been metastasized from a pair of Dickie’s work pants. Unfortunately, though, she does not sell her products to just anyone. In fact, influencer Emily Oberg is the only one to own a pair of McLaughlin’s clogs. Wearing these, we imagine, will give you the uncontrollable desire to hit up your community garden to help stain the fence. But then again, with another heatwave lurking in the near future, maybe it’s for the best that you can’t.
Basically slides, but still technically clogs, these are for those who are just beginning to test the bounds of their personal style and post-college salary. Under $500, they’re in that Cow Tales-sweet range of being luxurious while still leaving you (barely) enough to pay rent. Made in Italy, the shoe’s European origins are just about the only thing it has in common with the original Dutch clog, and that’s okay; everyone loses touch with their roots eventually.
Fire Island or Asbury Park
When your job sucks, you’ve finally hit rock bottom of a summer-long bender, your significant other dumped you, your friends hate you, and you’re getting evicted, it’s time to reassess your life choices. What better way to do that than by taking an extended, soul-searching stroll in some real performance clogs? Pack your bags, strap up, and head to Fire Island or the Jersey Shore. Protect your soles from getting griddled on the blazing hot beach until you get to the water’s edge, staring at the infinite abyss à la the ladies of Monterey. Then seamlessly unstrap and slide out of your clogs—and your troubles. That’s the beauty of a backless hybrid: no double-knotted laces to add to your frustrations. Just breezy convenience.
Anywhere from a Bodega Run To The Metropolitan Opera:
Modern originals, the Birkenstock Boston is the shoe that started it all. Sure, the shoe has long been beloved by nurses and chefs with a penchant for comfort. But, outside the workplace, the Boston elevated its utilitarian purpose to a fashion statement. The official shoe of fashion icons and playground-bound moms alike, they are shaping up to be the dark horse candidate for the shoe of the summer.