I don't think they are the same. I wear real crocs all the time--except for work. My work shoes have to be "industry standard" slip-resistent, therefore I bought the imitation crocs. Are they more comfortable than regular shoes? Absolutely. Are they more comfortable than crocs? Not a chance. The fake ones are not made with the exact same material, which conforms to your individual foot-high arches, low arches, doesn't matter. The material kinda "melts" into your foot shape regardless. I have a huge corn on the bottom of my foot (TMI sorry) and severe back problems--my back has been GREAT since only wearing crocs and the corn does not hurt AT ALL. I work 10 hours straight on my feet walking, and wish I could wear my crocs there as well. BUT, the imitation is MUCH better than normal shoes. So I say--if you've never worn crocs (for atleast a few days straight) you'll do fine with the imitation ones (the good imitation ones-not the harder inflexible ones). Even the imitation ones are SO MUCH BETTER than regular shoes. But, if given the chance to wear imitation over real, most people would choose the real ones once they have felt the difference for a few days. That being said, I would buy real ones only for myself-but I would buy fake ones for my kids. They grow so fast and don't have all the problems I used to have. THAT being said, my kids both have real ones because I had extra money at that time and was buying myself ones anyhow. Yes, they are ugly...but dear God, they make your feet and back feel wonderful. Make sure that they fit correctly as well. Crocs should not be touching ANY part of your foot except the bottom when standing still. It feels REALLY weird at first, totally different than any other shoe you've ever had on your foot, but once used to it will make a world of difference. Both my kids are INCREDIBLY active--running all the time, and the crocs work just fine after they got used to them. They have lasted well over a year (all 5 pairs in our house) although they do lose a bit of the slip resistance. If you have the money-go for it. If you don't have the money and it would create hardship spending that much-then you'll do fine with the fake ones. Cause even the fake ones are better than none at all!!