When my kids wanted ‘distressed’ jeans, I cringed but allowed them inside the house. When they tried discussing ripped jeans, I refused to give in. No, I wasn’t paying for buying a garment with chunks of cloth missing. And no, I wasn’t going to allow them to remove the cloth from their own pairs of jeans. In that case of who blinks first, I am happy to report that I won. But this latest fad has me really worried. The other day my son was off to play and I happened to look at his sneakers. They were filthy; that’s all I am giving you, being his mom. I glared at him and asked why he hadn’t bothered to wash them. He looked at me and said, “Had I taped them up, these would’ve been worth $530 (which is a little over Rs 38,000 on the day I am writing this).”
When I glared some more, he cheekily took my phone, and googled Golden Goose sneakers with “crumply, hold-it-all-together tape”. And he really wasn’t being cheeky. A pair of filthy white sneakers were on display in all their dirtiness. What was this? In my world, where children are told they are privileged to have sneakers in the first place and then all the paraphernalia which goes into maintaining them, I am subjected to this? Dirty, crumply and worn-out is fashionable now. That doesn’t take much effort, does it? The company that is selling these sneakers, fashion brand Golden Goose, describes another pair in the line as one with “stained laces, heavily distressed, scuffed and marked sole”. So my son just needs to wear the same white sneakers to school for maybe four Saturdays without washing them and he would be fashionable?
Here I am, ensuring my children are well-fed and well-clothed and there, at the other end of the world, people are slowly working on glamourising being dirty and disheveled. But how does it even work? The rich folk steps out of their huge mansions looking dirty? At this point, I am reminded of Alfred Doolittle in GB Shaw’s ‘Pygmalion’. He had said that it was always the middle class that was a worried lot; the rich were beyond caring as they set the trend and nobody cared about what the poor did. It was only the middle class that cared about values. So I ask, where does this leave the middle class, which is neither here nor there? What’s the point in our working hard at our 8-9 hr jobs when, at the end of the day, our kids will step out like tramps? Mind you, I have all my sympathies with people living under the flyover with just a tarpaulin for the roof. But they aren’t making a fashion statement; they are shabby for want of choice. They are making do with whatever life has thrown their way.
So what could Golden Goose designers be thinking when they came up with this? Probably they sat in their fancy office and completely bereft of ideas they thought of turning poverty into a fashion statement. Or is this, in some perverse way, an attempt to give the haves a taste of the life of the have-nots? So that when a rich kid gets out of his fancy car and spots a vagrant, he smiles at the latter as they’re in the “same shoes”. While the pun here is deliberate, the fad worries me.
What’s worse is that there are other brands which are selling tattered shoes. This, in my opinion, shows a complete lack of empathy. What will we have next? Mansions with no roofs, “distressed” walls, and broken window panes? That would go with tattered clothes and taped-up shoes, complete the look as it were. While that isn’t going to happen, I vaguely remember reading somewhere that foreigners were buying vacations where they got to stay in Mumbai slums. For my own sanity, I just hope Golden Goose has laid an egg with this one.