Balenciaga sells destroyed sneakers for $1,850


Written by Hannah Ryan, CNN

Luxury fashion house Balenciaga has unveiled a new campaign promoting a series of rough sneakers with a sky-high price tag, and the internet is having thoughts.

Images, taken by photographer Léopold Duchemin for the brand, of ragged and distressed shoes went viral after the couture brand’s new Parisian sneaker was launched on Monday, with outrage at the appearance of the high-tops swirling in line.

But the photos of the destroyed sneakers circulating on social media doesn’t exactly tell the whole story. Although they caused the most controversy, the images are actually exaggerated and limited-edition versions of the sneakers sold by Balenciaga.

According to the fashion house, only 100 pairs of “extra destroy” sneakers will be available for purchase for $1,850. Meanwhile, the non-limited edition and less raw versions are being sold on Balenciaga’s website for $495 and $625, depending on the specific style.

The ‘extremely worn’ Balenciaga sneakers are raising eyebrows online. Credit: Courtesy of Balenciaga

In a press release, the Paris-based brand said campaign photos show the shoes “extremely worn, marked and soiled.”

He said the still life portraits “suggest that Paris Sneaker is meant to be worn for a lifetime” – a point that seems particularly relevant amid growing conversations around the fast fashion industry and the impact of overconsumption on the planet.
An example of the less raw version of the sneaker, available for pre-order for $625 on the Balenciaga website.

An example of the less raw version of the sneaker, available for pre-order for $625 on the Balenciaga website. Credit: Courtesy of Balenciaga

Demna is known for his disruptive flair and the sneaker launch in Paris isn’t the first time his designs have sparked bemused reactions.

In 2017, Balenciaga released a bag that cost $2,145 that was derided for its similarities to Ikea’s “Frakta” bag. Back then, the original Ikea bag could be had for 99 cents.

Balenciaga describes the sneaker as a “revamped classic design”, which is finished with “distressed canvas and rough edges, affecting a pre-worn look”.

Online reactions to the Paris sneaker have been mixed.

SoleSavy, a website that describes itself as a community of “real sneakerheads”, asked if the “distressed sneaker trend” had gone too far.
Tora Northman, editor of publication Highsnobiety, said the brand had “taken the next level”, adding that Balenciaga “always creates controversial items that spark conversation”.

But not everyone thinks sneakers are worth laughing at.

GQ France editorial content manager Pam Boy said in an Instagram comment that the message of the product is clear: “Buy and keep forever. sneakers at 1450€. It completely upsets the essence of luxury.”

The jury seems to be out on whether this latest marketing move deserves praise or ridicule. Either way, Demna and Balenciaga have once again got people talking, no doubt drawing plenty to a brand that seems increasingly comfortable with controversy.

Top image: Campaign images of Balenciaga’s Paris sneaker.


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