Balenciaga and the uglier side of fashion
Balenciaga's new "Paris" range of trainers were recently trending on Weibo, China's equivalent of Twitter, for their rugged look, tattered holes, scuffs and slits, and a huge pricetag — the costliest pair coming for no less than $1,850.
Many people commented online that they were relieved they could never afford these "anything but luxurious" shoes. Others were less sparing, a few even quipped that such shoes could easily be found in a trash can.
One sure wonders if, through these unflattering pairs, the brand was ridiculing its most loyal customers — the rich — while paying a secret tribute to the poor.
For years, fashion brands have made fun of customers for an assumed lack of taste in beauty and art, and most importantly the lack of money. Not long ago, people making less than 3 million yuan ($444,964) a year fell in fashion giant LVMH's blind spot as it excluded those earning the "non-income" from its scheme of things.
It's all about business, as they say. And it is perfectly fine for fashion brands to sell what they want to their targeted high-value customers in the name of a more "cultivated" lifestyle. But it is time we removed such products from the high pedestal they have been placed on, just by virtue of their exorbitantly high price.
Such products should be seen for what they are, just a different lifestyle product, nothing more. Trashed sneakers should never cost anything close to $2,000. This is easily the ugliest side of fashion — fashion brands trying to rob customers of their hard-earned money without giving a decent product in return. And the rich are no fools.
The author is a writer with China Daily.