Discover more from The Molehill
the secret lives of the clogerati
and the story of my own klompen-fication
There are some fashion essays I consider seminal. One of them is Lauren Mechling’s “The Life Changing Magic of Clogs” from 2018 (Rachel Syme’s essay on high waisted pants is also on The Molehill syllabus). Five years later, it still hits. She coined the term clogerati, the creative class individuals who signal their creative class-ness through their clogs. It’s a highly quotable piece that sharply nails the secret lives of the clogerati.
Clog life is not lived off the grid but grid-adjacent. It’s a fuzzy, fancy realm, littered with alpaca sweaters, Rachel Cusk novels, and trees that grow indoors, in charmingly primitive ceramic pots. Yotam Ottolenghi cookbooks have a place in Clog Life. So do St. Vincent albums, school pickups, and self-care.
What stands out to me is the reference to school pickups, the link between Clog Life and parenthood. Clogs evoke an association with feminized labor, think nursing, gardening, child-raising. The word work is usually incorporated into the product names for clogs: worker, workshop, workmanship. It’s not as rugged as say, the Blundstone, but is connected to “rustic” work that straddles the line between labor and leisure. Craft, if you will. It’s knitting your own sweaters, making your own pasta from flour and egg yolks, plant-dyeing your own pillowcases. Clogs are closed-toed but ankle-baring. Just enough protection from bits of clay flying off the potter’s wheel or a hot baking tray slipping out of your fingers.
Bulbous shoes with wooden heels have gone from podiatric armor for European field workers to a signifier of bicoastal creative-class bohemianism […] Walk around Venice Beach, or Boerum Hill, or any neighborhood buzzing with attractive folks who are in the business of making things—often other people’s tastes—and behold the explosion playing out at ground level.
The podiatric benefits of clogs are a little murky to me. The idea that the solid wooden sole saves your feet is inherent to the the clog’s storied mythology. I know some people who swear by Danskos but to be honest—most people I know (me included) are wearing clogs for the aesthetic. The first time I wore clogs, the hardness of the wood was decidedly uncomfortable. It took a few weeks to get used to the clomping gait.
Still, at a moment when our First Lady invites ridicule by showing up to scenes of national disaster in pristine Manolo Blahnik stilettos, and when the billionaire captains of Silicon Valley industry are wearing Allbirds—furry-looking merino-wool sneakers—the time seems ripe for the reconsideration of a shoe that resembles a member of the squash family.
Yes, clogs are the antithesis of the stiletto. There’s something radically freeing about a shoe that isn’t trying to be the most “sleek” or “elongating” (often code for slimming). The clog is wide. It’s bulbous. It’s heavy. It’s round. That is the appeal. I think it’s the same reason I’m drawn to the Elsa Peretti Bean shape: it’s about organic lines and forms. Clogs are mesmerizing.
My klompen-fication started with an infatuation with Bryr clogs. At the peak of my obsession, I got up at 5:30am with an N95 mask (wildfire season) to line up for their sample sale in the Dogpatch. I also had a prized pair of bubble gum pink sky high Swedish Hasbeens that I typically wore with sailor pants. In Shrill, Aidy Bryant’s character wears a pair of perfect dark green perforated clogs that I lusted after. The clog is always present in my litter of shoes.
Below - nine of the best clogs on the internet.
the ponyhair personality clog
modern twist on the vintage miu miu zebra clogs
the swedish hasbabe
cartoon marge simpson shoes
signature shoe for the bay area boho bride
english major walking to class at her liberal arts college
garden gnome girl in overalls
the english rose
birk bostons but make it apres ski