Do Crocs shrink if they get too hot? Too wet?
Does the company know this and yet not inform consumers?
Is the Post Malone-approved shoemaker leaving that detail out so that customers will go back and buy a larger pair of Crocs after their initial pair shrinks a full size or more, thus doubling Crocs’ sales total per customer?
These are some of the allegations being put forth in a class action lawsuit filed in California late last month that charges the Colorado-based shoe company with the unique 13-hole design of fraud, deceit, misrepresentation, false advertising, unfair trade practice and violation of the consumer warranty act, just to name a few.
The plaintiffs number in the hundreds, court docs say, but are represented principally by California women Martha Valentine and Ruby Cornejo. They contend that the presence of Croslite material causes the shoes to “shrink upon exposure to ordinary heat, direct sunlight, and/or water.”
Croslite contains a foamable ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA), that can cause the shoe to shrink in hot conditions. It’s also Croslite that gives Crocs their unique flexibility and cushioning that have made them a hit among comfort-seekers for the past 20 years.
Plaintiffs attorneys contend that nowhere does Crocs acknowledge, inform or warn consumers that heat and water will cause them to shrink by a full size or more, rendering them “unwearable by the original owner.” Worse than that, they advertise their Classic Clogs as “all terrain,” “water clogs,” “perfect by the pool,” “perfect for gardening,” etc., which attorneys for the plaintiffs say is nothing short of false advertising intended to create an unfair advantage in the marketplace.
“Defendant’s motive to conceal this information from consumers goes beyond simply hiding the problems with its Products. It allows Defendant to significantly boost profits because it causes consumers to buy more Products,” the complaint reads. “The reason is simple. When a consumer buys a shoe that shrinks to the point it is no longer wearable, it means the consumer will in all likelihood buy a replacement.”
Valentine’s story starts in the spring of 2022, when she purchased a pair of Crocs for a trip that summer to Maine that would involve exposure to heat and sun.
“She had been attracted to the roomy fit of the Crocs and had believe [sic] that they could not shrink due to their curable plastic construction,” the complaint reads. “[She] purchased the Crocs shoes based on Defendant’s representation as ‘shedding water’ and ‘water-friendly,’ and would mold to her feet to ‘fit perfectly.’”
Alas, the Crocs shrunk so badly, Valentine reports, they became unwearable.
Cornejo’s misadventure with the KFC collaborator was prompted by an advertisement that called them the “best shoes for gardening,” but after just two months of use they had shrunk too much for her to wear.
Plaintiffs are asking for $5 million in damages spread amongst the myriad complainants, minus attorney’s fees and court costs. A pair of Crocs Classic All-Terrain shoes goes for approximately $55 retail.
“Crocs’ marketing and advertising representations and omissions concerning the Products were false and misleading, were directed at inducing, and did induce, Plaintiffs and Class Members to purchase the Products at higher prices than they would otherwise have paid, had they known the truth of the matter,” the complaint says.
Croslite says on its website that it is “a proprietary closed cell resin material which is not plastic or rubber. It has an extraordinary impact absorbing resin material which was developed for maximum cushioning. The closed cell properties resist odour, inhibit bacterial and fungal growth and are non-toxic… It is this material which makes Crocs shoes light weight, extremely comfortable, discourages sweating but is also easy care.”
But with that flexibility comes hypersensitivity to heat when exposed.
“Most of the time, people deliberately expose their Crocs to the sun, as they would want the shoe to reduce in size in order for the shoes to fit in properly,” footweartips.com says. “Crocs cannot withstand heat as they’re likely to shrink when exposed to sunlight.”
One of many sites offering advice on how to un-shrink Crocs recommends, contrary to the plaintiff’s rationale, putting them in hot water.
“The best way to unshrink Crocs is to put them inside boiling water for 45 seconds. Then, immediately wear them until they cool down,” says styleandrun.com. “Boiling water softens the material while putting them on will immediately stretch the Crocs.”
In the complaint, plaintiffs attorneys seem to acknowledge that if the shrinkage is meant to be a secret, it’s a poorly kept one.
“Crocs itself received thousands of complaints regarding the shrinkage problems, but still refused to acknowledge the design defect with a point of sale warning, disclaimer or even an FAQ on its website, so as not to compromise additional sales,” the lawsuit reads.
With so many consumers openly acknowledging that Crocs shrink in sunlight, if not in water, then why doesn’t the company acknowledge it on the packaging and in stores?
On the other hand, if it is such common knowledge, how can plaintiffs argue the company is trying to hide the fact for nefarious reasons?
But why would Crocs run the risk of having so many dissatisfied customers?
The questions could be answered in court if the case moves forward.
Crocs responded to Sourcing Journal requests for comment Thursday morning with the following:
“While we are not at liberty to speak to specific details of ongoing litigation, we do not believe that the allegations in this suit have any merit,” a Crocs spokesperson said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs did not respond to requests for comment.