Since the debut of the couture label’s new Paris sneaker back in May, photographs of the shoes, shot by Leopold Duchemin for the company, have gone viral, eliciting widespread outrage over the high tops’ obviously worn and abused condition. However, pictures of the trashed shoes that have gone viral online don’t convey the whole image.
The most controversial shoes featured are actually blown-up, limited-edition variants of Balenciaga’s regular sneakers. The design house claims that only one hundred pairs of the “extremely wrecked” sneakers (retailing at $1,850 each) will be made accessible to the public. In the meantime, you can get the less damaged and more widely available non-limited edition versions from the Balenciaga website for between $495 and $625.
The Parisian label claimed in a press statement that the shoes featured in the ad campaign look “timeworn, scuffed up, and dirty.” Amidst rising discussions about the rapid fashion industry and the consequences of overconsumption on the globe, the statement that the still-life images “suggest that Paris Sneakers are supposed to be worn for a lifetime” struck a chord.
Disturbing the status quo is nothing new for Demna. The presentation of his new sneaker in Paris was welcomed with similar confusion. Balenciaga released a $2,145 bag in 2017 that was mocked for looking like Ikea’s “Frakta” bag, which retails for $99. The first iteration of the Ikea bag retailed for only 99 cents.
According to Balenciaga, the shoe has a “distressed canvas and rough edges, affecting a pre-worn look,” making it a “retooled classic design.” Many opinions have been expressed about the Paris sneaker on the internet. The website SoleSavy, which bills itself as a hub for “serious sneakerheads,” recently posed the question of whether or not the “aged shoe trend” had reached its saturation point.
Highsnobiety news editor Tora Northman remarked that the label has “taken it to the next level,” She further noted that Balenciaga is “always making provocative goods that create controversy.” However, not everyone shares this view. In an Instagram post, Pam Boy, head of editorial content at GQ France, remarked that the product’s message is crystal clear “Get it and never sell it again.”
The creative director of Balenciaga, Demna, is selling “pre-worn”-looking sneakers for €1,450. He is inverting the very definition of luxury.” It’s unclear if this latest marketing strategy deserves kudos or mockery.
Whatever the case, Demna and Balenciaga have once again sparked controversy, which will undoubtedly attract many consumers to a label that appears to be growing increasingly at ease with such friction.
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