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You can't put lipstick on this pig ... er, coyote. Uh, crocodile. Whatever.
Crocs (Nasdaq: CROX ) is going retro, but unfortunately for investors, it's not flashing back to its heady days of growing sales and soaring shares. Instead, it's simply trying a new -- and purely cosmetic -- twist on the old Crocs.
The shoe company is touting its new Crocband style, which supposedly gives a little "retro sneaker" edge to the Crocs lineup. These new Crocs pretty much look like the old Crocs, except for their white-with-a-stripe soles, which recall the classic look of Chuck Taylor All-Stars, the signature sneakers of Nike's (NYSE: NKE ) Converse division. While imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, I doubt there's much of a market in people who wish they didn't have to choose between Chucks and Crocs. (Plus, you know what they say about horizontal stripes. "Does this make my foot look fat?")
Unfortunately, unlike the trucker hats woefully repopularized by Ashton Kutcher, the Crocband has managed to skip the first two stages of the usual fad progression -- "ironic," followed by "kind of lame" -- and land directly on "completely out of touch." (Thanks to my Foolish colleague Dayana Yochim for her expert input on Crocs' newest style.)
Fading fads are painful -- especially for those who have to look at them. Like investors in Heelys (Nasdaq: HLYS ) , Crocs shareholders have clearly suffered from the company's plunging stock price, as the sour economy crashes into the rapidly fading fad for its foamy footwear. We'll see this winter whether Deckers Outdoors' (Nasdaq: DECK ) UGG boots, long the fluffy footwear of the hip and famous, can eke out another year of popularity. At least Skechers (NYSE: SKX ) seems adept at constantly reinventing its footwear, albeit with designs that admittedly touch on elements of recent trends.
Some investors will always maintain their love affair with story stocks like Crocs or former highflier Sirius XM (Nasdaq: SIRI ) , no matter how poorly the business does. I still think investors should step away from the Crocs, and the Crocband does nothing to change my mind. I'm glad the company is trying new things, but I'm not sure these superficial tweaks make any real difference.
What do you think? Use the comment boxes below to tell us whether the new Crocs style is rad or lame.
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