by Rey Joaquin
I have a lot of hesitation in writing this piece. Not because of the potential social suicide and possibly man-repelling effects of what I’m about to admit, but because I simply prefer to enjoy my Merrell Hydro Mocs in isolation. Deep down, I secretly want to keep them guarded away from the rest of the cool, questionably fashionable dad footwear that’s gotten over-loved.
Yes, it’s true — the space foam alien footwear is my go-to for almost any lightly Recreational activity. From checking my mailbox to grocery shopping; from coffee runs to socially-distanced happy hour walks around the neighborhood with a pal or two. My Hydro Mocs never fail to deliver the most satisfying under-foot squish.
I wear my Hydro Mocs in two modes. Casual mode, so I’ve named it, is made for quick-slipping into, and important decision-making like “Should I lounge on the couch or in bed today?”. Flip the strap from front to back and you enter Sport mode. With the back strap in place, the added stability helps you out in potentially hazardous situations like a sidewalk after a summer shower or a grocery store post-floor mopping, before they’ve whipped out the “slippery when wet” sign. My Hydro Mocs, on their best day (and to be clear there are no bad days when you’re wearing Hydro Mocs), are perfectly fit for whatever my schedule demands. So why are they so damn controversial?
For one, I admit, it’s a tad bit harder to style. It’s a weirder, uglier, cooler version of other rubber clogs out there, but that’s part of the fun of it all. If you need some celeb inspo, look to the norm-core god Shia LaBeouf himself, or junior style icon and future-monarch-in-chief Prince George.
I personally like to style them with tonal socks. If you choose to rock white Hydro Mocs, for example, pair them with an off-white or cream colored sock. The subtle color shift adds dimension to the entire ‘fit. And before you scoff at the notion of socks and sandals — a move once thought a major faux pas, in a past time when arbitrary fashion rules still dictated footwear decisions — I say to hell with it. If you want to wear Mocs and socks, you should.
There are also the other aforementioned rubbery dad shoes that are in competition for your consideration. Rubber Birkenstocks, if you prefer a dual-strap. And of course, the originator of the rubber clog: our favorite crocodilian brand from Colorado. But while Crocs, and their perfectly perforated uniformity, only stumbled into their reputation by accident, Merrell’s Hydro Moc makes its ugliness pointedly intentional. Its irony is the point — not a side effect. If crocs were Whole Foods, Hydro Mocs would be Erewhon.
Sure enough, there are, and always will be, those that can’t see past the “ugly” or “atrocious”-ness of the Hydro Mocs. To each their own. The only atrocity I see is the inability to imagine yourself stepping (literally) out of your comfort zone. So even if you won’t, I’ll keep repping my Hydro Mocs with my whole chest. Why? Because we live in a boulder suspended in space spinning at roughly 1,000 miles per hour in an infinitely expansive universe and potential multiverse, and the fact that you get to choose what to wear each day within that existence is a miracle in itself. So why not go with the bold, comfortable, magical footwear?
My bottom line: This marshmallow shoe is a gift from the alien overlords up high, but perhaps it’s not for everyone. I’ve made my peace with that.
Based in Austin, Rey Joaquin is a multidisciplinary designer, poet, and writer. He enjoys art and photography, sad songs, and his eggs on the sunny side.
But while Crocs, and their perfectly shaped, perforated uniformity, only stumbled into their reputation by accident, Merrell’s Hydro Moc makes its ugliness pointedly intentional. The irony is the point — not a side effect.