Thursday, August 02, 2007

Crocs: Out of this world

Hospitals have dress codes right down to the shoes doctors and nurse wear on duty. Something that has recently cause a stir is the safety of Crocs in the workplace. A study from Sweden revealed Crocs could produce a static charge that may interfere with medical testing equipment and then larmists thought the plastic clog (with holes) could be an added health and safety risk and increase potential damage from ‘sharps.’ Despite no record of injuries by this means Ottawa Hospital, Ontario recently announced a ban on all staff from wearing the colourful clog. Alarmed at the potential risks, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority, city workplace health and safety committees from hospitals and health care settings undertook and investigation into the probability needles, blood, or other fluids could compromise health and safety and infection control by accidentally falling through the holes in Crocs. After careful consideration, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority announced this week, Crocs provided no more a health and safety risks than any other similar footwear. Researchers also discovered the amount of static produced by Crocs was comparable with that produced by other footwear and was unlikely to interfere with medical equipment. They are now unlikely to follow the sumptuary ban. According to the president of Manitoba Nurses' Union, at least half of all nurses wear Crocs (or clones) and find them comfortable and supportive through long shifts and demanding physical work. Wearing clogs is well established in many orthopaedic units and surgical staff have worn them for years. Traditional wooden clogs most comfortable and considered far superior to Wellingtons (rubber boots) which can harbour fungal infections. This is especially problematic when footwear is shared for theatre work. Crocs have the added advantage of being made from a synthetic polymer, closed-cell resin called Croslite™. The thermoplastic material provides an easy to clean surface which moulds to fit the foot. Ideal for a single user but when footwear is shared no disadvantage to multi-fit. Crocs were conceived by three friends, Scott Seamans, George Boedecker, and Lyndon Hanson when on a trip in the Caribbean. Seamans demonstrated to his friends a new clog, ironically made by Canadian company called Foam Creations. The shoes effortlessly allowed him to walk on wet surfaces and appear to be an ideal solution for a boaters who need slip resistant shoes to negotiate boat decks. They licensed the product and in 2002, Crocs™ introduced the original Beach™ model. In their first year they earned a gross profit of $1,000 (U.S.) from sales in America. Four years later, following a series of strategic licensing deals the company earned more than $200 million a year from sales in 40 countries. During the first quarter of 2007, Crocs’ sales increased 217 per cent from the same period the previous year. The latest range from CROCS’™ includes Sassari™ an elevated footbed which fuses fashion and functionality and designed exclusively for women’s feet. The retro inspired style are available in two tone colour combinations; Black/White, Fuchsia/White, Sea foam/White, Celery/White and Gold/Chocolate. CROCS’™ also manufactures a line of orthopaedics shoes, Crocs Rx — Relief, which have been designed for general foot problems, and the CloudM and Silver Cloud range are marketed as diabetic comfort shoes. According to Crocs Inc., their shoes have been certified by United States Ergonomics. Currently the world seems to be divided between Crocs lovers and their distracters. This is an interesting phenomenon for what is after all a pair of shoes. Certainly the fashionista would have a fleeting faddish interest but this seems to go deeper invoking the rathe of the foot police. The history of shoe style condemnation by medicalisation has a very poor record indeed however the continued distrust of the new kid on the block, confirms the social importance of not just a new shoe, but a significant step forward in footwear.

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