They’re stained, crushed and yellowed, but Balenciaga’s range of “worn” sneakers, launched this month in partnership with Adidas, are sold out. This is despite the astonishing price tag of around £700.
The brand new shoes, described by one reviewer as “looking like they’ve been crushed by a 20-ton steamroller”, are no longer available on the Balenciaga website and are priced at £2,500 on a specialist sneaker auction site. Has been
They may look like they’ve seen better days, but the sneakers — a pair of Adidas destroyed Stan Smiths — are in fact made from luxurious lamb leather. If they do make it to the shops, they will be on sale in Britain’s most high-end high streets. There is a demand that they will be available on December 15 with a lottery system on the adidas website.
Balenciaga isn’t the only brand that makes worn-out sneakers. Gucci made a pair of chunky but purposeful sneakers in 2019, which retail on their website for £715. Golden Goose has been making these types of sneakers for a long time: in 2018, a design called the Superstar Tapered Sneaker was deemed particularly offensive. One Twitter user wrote, “I think top capitalism is selling shoes to people who can’t afford new shoes for $530.” Four years later, in the midst of a cost-of-living crisis, that sentiment may have grown.
These commodities can be seen impacting the old market, which is expected to be worth $35bn (£28bn) by 2021, up from $11bn a decade ago. Perhaps the difference here is that Balenciaga has used Stan Smiths – a relatively affordable, accessible design. He has “destroyed” them and made them luxurious at the same time.
Clothes that are worn out are nothing new. In fact, the distressed look often coincides with a recession. Look at the ripped and destroyed punk style of the ’70s, or the gloomy grunge of the ’90s. Helmut Lang pioneered the distressed look in this decade. In 1998, he sent ‘painter’ jeans onto the catwalk, spattered with emulsion stains.
The worn sneaker is the latest product in Balenciaga’s rise, said Luca Solca, senior research analyst for global luxury goods at Bernstein. “Sometimes it’s more often than not to find a ‘hero product,’ but it’s rare to make a long successful run like Balenciaga’s,” he says.
Solka believes that Balenciaga is still different from other brands. He says, “One of the hallmarks of Balenciaga’s reinvention—as I understand it—is its take on irony.” “The similar-looking Ikea shopping bag is just one example.” In 2017, the brand released a £1,705 bag that closely resembled Ikea’s 75p Frakta. The irony is that something very boring has often turned into a hyped luxury item. These products usually work well for social media memes as well.
Together with designer Demna (known only by her first name), Balenciaga is one of the biggest fashion success stories of recent years. The brand grew 44% between 2020 and 2021, with parent company Kering reporting in October that sales were “particularly booming across all product categories”. StockX, the resale platform, reports that there were more than 50,000 searches for the brand this year.
The special thing is that the age of the luxury consumer is decreasing. A Bain & Company report released this month found that Gen Z and millennial demographics were driving luxury, an industry expected to grow 21% by 2022. This demographic is likely to appreciate Balenciaga’s meme-worthy irony.
The brand made headlines earlier this year with a Paris sneaker, one so broken it would have been impossible to wear. The worn-out shoe follows September’s fashion show, where models walked a mud-covered runway, some dressed in S&M costume “handbags” carrying a tattered teddy bear. The brand was forced to apologize this week for ads showing children holding teddy bear handbags and an image of a handbag on a desk depicting a child abuse case.
Andrew Groves, a professor of fashion design at the University of Westminster, certainly finds items like Balenciaga’s worn-out sneakers problematic. ,[They] The epitome of what fashion historian Emma McClendon calls “vacation in poverty.” He says that, following the ad scandal this week, “I think the tide has turned firmly against Balenciaga’s dystopian take on fashion.”