First things first – the images circulating the cybersphere of the destroyed Paris sneakers do not accurately depict what the retail version looks like. The campaign images, where the level of wear and tear is heavily exaggerated, are more of visual aid to illustrate the key messaging behind the drop.

distressed Balenciaga sneakers
Courtesy of Balenciaga

If tattered, grimey, and heavy on the grunge gets your juices flowing, do not despair.  There is a limited number of ‘’extra destroyed’’ ones available for sale. While they look like something that would get you ridiculed by a jovial uncle at a family gathering, they are nowhere near as shabby as the campaign hero ones. (Speaking from experience, I can tell you that the ‘’can you not afford jeans without holes in them?’’ joke is ubiquitous across the globe, and while mine was part of my Polish upbringing, I know that many of you will nod in unison, regardless of your heritage.)

Now that we have cleared up what has caused the outrage against the viral campaign let’s address the critical question here. Do they deserve to be ripped into further shreds (pun intended)?

Balenciaga has never shied away from mild controversy or groundbreaking innovation. And no, I am not talking about Kimmy K wrapped in yellow tape. I am talking about Cristobal Balenciaga himself, who radically altered the fashion silhouette of women in the mid-twentieth century and reaped praise from the likes of Mademoiselle Coco herself. She called him the only true couturier, with the rest being belittled to mere artisans.

distressed Balenciaga sneakers
Courtesy of Balenciaga

Fast forward to decades later; enter Demna Gvasalia stating that ‘’you need to destroy to create’’ as his artistic ethos, and the Paris sneaker is born.

The message here is pretty straightforward to me: ’’buy something you love and keep it forever’’.

With all that in mind, we have to address the hefty price tag. If you break down the pricing of any luxury item, it is a neat little pie chart. First and foremost, you pay for the elevated quality of the goods in question. And this is where the Paris sneaker-related rage seems to stem from.  But there is more to the proverbial pricing pie.

Second to quality, you pay for the brand alignment between yourself and your luxury brand of choice. You have, through this purchase, positioned yourself as someone who wears Balenciaga, and you reap the benefits of the social clout that follows.

The remaining slices of the pie are – the creator’s vision, the brand’s historical heritage, and in items as controversial as this one, the visual contribution to supporting a sociopolitical movement. You are now a walking statement to the cause, ‘’the one who gets it’’.  In the instance of the Paris sneaker, perhaps the weight is on the latter, and while these might not be the sneakers with the most longevity to them, rest assured that due to the controversy around them, they will maintain a high re-sell value.

distressed Balenciaga sneakers
Courtesy of Balenciaga

None of this was simply an oversight on behalf of Balenciaga’s team. This was the very intention behind everything Demna designs, no matter how out-of-the-box and outrageous. And the outrageous is precisely what you are paying for here; you rebel you.

For decades, the sneaker culture has been about the ‘box-fresh,’ leading to increased demand for the new new, and ergo leading to overconsumption. The Paris sneaker is the opposite of the sybaritic mindset and goes against the need to discard anything that looks pre-loved.

Now is a luxury house the suitable medium to convey this message? I believe so.

thoughts?