As Balenciaga charge £1,290 for a pair of beaten-up trainers, fashion guru LYNNE FRANKS says they’re just one example of designers cashing in on TRASHION (the ugliest trend of all!)
The fashion industry has always had its crazy moments. I should know; as the founder of London Fashion Week, I’ve been at the forefront of fashion PR for many years and seen endless trends come and go.
I wasn’t a fan of the Liz Hurley safety pin evening dress era, when expensive designers such as Versace tried to look punk. And the ‘naked’ look by Jean Paul Gaultier, popular with many celebrities, is not really my cup of tea.
Yet even I have never seen anything quite like the latest mind-boggling craze, where some of the world’s top fashion designers are charging a small fortune for items that look as if they have come straight out of a skip. It’s almost as if the more expensive a fashion piece is, the cheaper it has to look.
BIN BAG DRESS: Nu is selling the black Jacquard Sleeveless Balloon Shirt Dress for £485
DESTROYED JUMPER: (left) Balanciaga is selling the crewneck sweater for £1,150. JEANS WITH CAKED-ON MUD (right): PRPS is selling a pair of $425 jeans with, wait for it … wait for it … fake mud caked right on them
PAINT-SPLATTERED TRAINERS: Dolce & Gabbana is selling them for £470
PRE-SCUFFED SNEAKERS: Gucci is selling the white and green sneakers for £675
HOLEY HOODIE Balenciaga £1,350
‘SUPERMARKET’ (left) BAG: Balenciaga is selling this fake shopping for £925
TORN JEANS: Also Balenciaga and cost £1,350
PLASTIC BAGS: Celine £475 each
TORN-APART TRAINERS: Maison Margiela’s £1,175 destroyed Future sneaker comes with scrapes, scuffs, torn leather, gaping holes and exposed foam padding. To top it off, the sneakers are held together with a multitude of staples
HANDBAG DESIGNED TO LOOK LIKE RUBBISH BAG: Louis Vuitton’s £1,602 ‘Raindrop Besace’ purse does not have luxury wingdings and instead an inscription. It comes in green and brown, and it’s waterproof
When approached by the Mail, a Balenciaga representative wouldn’t divulge how their tatty trainers are made — or indeed whether they’re recycling old shoes, or destroying a new pair to get the finished look.
But underneath all that dirt, the shoes — made from cotton and rubber — don’t look dissimilar to a pair of my Converse high-tops. So how hard could it be to turn my £59.99 trainers into a pair of designer-distressed ones?
My first challenge: how to turn the pristine white canvas that scuzzy, muddy colour. I discover tea bags give the perfect hue. I daub the bags all over the canvas and it instantly looks vintage. Next, I use scissors and a carving knife to snip off the branded discs and get to work on the sides, tops and laces with a cheese grater. Once suitably frayed, I dunk them in more tea-bag water.
I use scissors to make haphazard holes all over the canvas, then rip each tear apart with my hands.
The rubber sole proves a real problem; my Converses are looking too shiny. There’s nothing for it but a stomp in the mud in the fields.
For the graffiti logo on the base, I use a permanent black marker, a toothbrush and a an eyeshadow palette to give that smudged, edgy finish.
But there’s still something missing. The Balenciaga shoes are peppered with burn marks. I carefully singe parts of the canvas with some matches.
It has taken five hours but, with the help of some everyday objects costing no more than 70p, I’ve managed to make designer dupes that would fool even the most ardent follower of fashion. However these trashy trainers will be walking in one direction only: all the way to the dump.
The latest such item is Balenciaga’s £1,290 ‘Paris Sneakers’, a pair of dirty trainers that look like they’ve been pulled through a hedge backwards — and then a couple more times for good measure. Needless to say, they have not gone down well with everyone, with terms like ‘offensive’ and ‘disgusting’ being thrown about by fashionistas and normal shoppers alike.
And I tend to agree with them. Quite frankly, this trend for so-called high trashion — because Balenciaga is not the only designer culprit by far — is the most insensitive fashion statement I have ever seen.
At a time when so many people are suffering, worrying how they can pay for food and heating, it’s a huge insult for fashion designers to promote this ‘trashed’ look to their millionaire customers. I am not suggesting that wealthy people go around covered with bling, but surely trying to look poor and paying a fortune for it is just beyond any realms of good taste.
This is not Balenciaga’s first foray into trashion. Under the creative vision of Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia, who’s been at the helm since 2015, they also offer the rich a selection of ‘destroyed’ sweaters and hoodies that look like they’ve been attacked by gigantic moths and cost well over £1,000.
In March, they released a £925 bag that bore a striking resemblance to a retro Tesco carrier bag, and last year a pair of £950 baggy trousers, which appeared to have boxers visible at the waistband, divided opinion.
They join a whole list of trashed items promoted by the designer industry. Balmain’s £1,315 khaki T-shirt is full of holes; a Louis Vuitton monogrammed ‘rubbish’ bag for over £1,600; Dolce & Gabbana £470 paint-spotted trainers; Gucci’s grass-stained-effect men’s jeans for £600 and pre-scuffed trainers for £675.
Perhaps they think they’re creating ‘art’, or making a clever comment about fast-fashion culture. Perhaps the trend for trashion is meant to be some kind of political statement on poverty, or a response to the war in Ukraine.
Or perhaps, the fashion houses are just trying to be controversial for the sake of publicity.Whatever their reasons, it is not clever to patronise shoppers in the name of design — or even art. In fact, it is a form of elitism that shames the fashion industry. All that clothes like these prove is that some people will buy anything if it has a designer name and eye-watering price tag, no matter how ridiculous.
The £1,290 original Balenciagas’ high-top Paris Sneakers which come in black or white
The 70p copies that the Daily Mail made with some tea and scissors
Thankfully, among everyday shoppers there is an enormous upswing towards conscious consumerism, women who — rather than splashing out on something new — are adapting their existing wardrobes or scouring vintage markets and charity shops.
Take retail guru Mary Portas’s stylish chain of Save The Children charity shops, Mary’s Living & Giving, where you’ll find pre-loved designer fashion that is in much better condition than Balenciaga’s destroyed trainers. Plus the money goes to a great cause.
So, to those who are tempted to fall prey to the ludicrous fashion for trashion, I would advise — in the words of Dame Vivienne Westwood —don’t keep buying the latest trend. Buy treasures that you really will keep for ever.
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