Luxury fashion brand Balenciaga is taking the internet by storm after launching its new Paris Sneaker line, featuring “destroyed” shoes at exorbitant prices.
The lowest-priced shoe in the line is the Paris Trainers Mule, starting at $635, and the most expensive pair clocks in at a whopping $2,290 before taxes.
All the sneaker models legitimately look extremely worn out, with “BALENCIAGA” carelessly spray-painted on the sides of their stained rubber soles.
And the internet is simply not having it.
— Balenciaga (@BALENCIAGA) May 10, 2022
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One Twitter user posted a photo of a shabby-looking doll with messy makeup, to what a Balenciaga Barbie would look like, given the new trend.
Barbie Balenciaga pic.twitter.com/VByDnoX4QE
— Gonzalo Espin (@gonzaloespin) May 10, 2022
There are people offering up their own used shoes, tagging Balenciaga so they can “upsell them at, like, a 600% profit.”
— lowercase j (@jAREDkESSEL) May 10, 2022
But jokes aside, the tasteless shoe line has highlighted how fashion brands often glamourize what has come to be known as the “poverty aesthetic.”
— Sarah Virani (@Sarah_Zuu_) May 10, 2022
Balenciaga has a line of ripped up, worn out, and dirty clothing called Distressed. Costing from $600 to a couple thousand so the obscenely wealthy can cosplay poverty. And they wonder why we say eat the rich. #EatTheRich #FuckTheRight
— Aud Andrews (@that_aud_guy) May 10, 2022
I also believe Balenciaga are doing a social experiment to see how far rich people will go to buy nonsense in name of fashion. https://t.co/d20Z3Qd8Gd
— Dr. Hard Guy ➐ (@Eslawal) May 10, 2022
Over the years, many research papers, video essays, and articles have emerged spotlighting the growing trend of looking poor or homeless.
The last major pop culture incident to accelerate this discussion happened in 2017.
Kim Kardashian and Kanye West shared carefully curated low-quality photos of themselves with their children in a humble-looking house.
The lighting is, for the lack of a better work, un-influencer-like, and there’s almost no furniture in the rooms. The celebrity family looks relaxed and is dressed in ordinary clothes as well.
View this post on Instagram
This visual was jarring compared to the luxurious outfits, modern mansions, and air of opulence you would normally see in the photos any Kardashian posts.
In one of her video essays, British YouTuber Jordan Theresa called this trend the “working class aesthetic” and deemed it a form of gentrification.
But with Balenciaga’s shoe launch taking things to entirely new lows, people are wondering what the brand was thinking. Many are shocked this isn’t a prank of some sort.
Balenciaga gotta be a social experiment pic.twitter.com/HAhDEjQcIi
— kira 👾 (@kirawontmiss) May 10, 2022
As you would expect, those who love trendy fashion and brand labels are still in Balenciaga’s watertight grip.
i hate falling into trends but then Balenciaga boots kinda fire😫
— 𝓜,000,000 (@6marymillion) May 10, 2022
The ethical debate aside, Balenciaga has garnered a reputation for starting weird trends. In 2017, the brand created charm-studded Crocs that looked like a child’s art project. Last summer, it unveiled its stiletto Crocs, which look more like a sin than it sounds.
Where did these products land the brand? In Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, and several other major publications.
There truly is no such thing as bad publicity.
TikTok fashion critic @ideservecouture believes Balenciaga’s move was brilliant. He explains how the brand profits off your outrage.
“This is the brilliance of Balenciaga. They want to piss you off,” @ideservecouture said in a video posted today. “They’re the biggest trolls ever in the fashion industry.”
@ideservecouture Balenciaga is the biggest troll and I love it @Balenciaga #balenciaga #parissneaker #fashion #fashiontiktok #demnagvasalia #sneaker #vogue #style #couture #catwalk #fashionreview ♬ Intentions (Instrumental Version) [Originally Performed by Justin Bieber & Quavo] – Elliot Van Coup
He explained that the campaign photos feature extremely busted pairs of shoes solely as a marketing tactic. The shoes on sale are much less worn out. However, technically, Balenciaga will be selling the extremely torn up shoes — only 100 “limited edition” pairs.
“Balenciaga, at this point, is counting on you to be pissed off and talk about it; post it on social media like ‘Is this a joke?'” he pointed out. “You’re doing their marketing for them. Brilliant.”