Dad sneakers are a fucking scourge and no one is doing more to try and convince you they’re chic and not hideous than current Balenciaga Creative Director Demna Gvasalia, patient zero for this cynical trend and a man who honestly just seems like he’s making fun of anyone thirsty enough to drop nine hundred bucks on this techy poop of a shoe. (Well, maybe Kanye, but he’s also living in some sort of nostalgic wormhole for 1988, so pay him no mind.)
Nevertheless, they are all the rage, and rich people across the globe are trying to get a piece of this hot nerd action that is really just an embarrassing status symbol and deepest display of the capitalist grotesque (because if you were really about this dad shoe life you’d just hit up the Payless Champion aisle and save yourself about $865). Many are buying in, but one person who is decidedly not is the fashion designer Ralph Rucci, an American uniquely focused on elegance and fine craft. On Instagram Monday night, he went motherfucking off:
“I have been told to be quiet, and I have turned my eyes away, but I cannot tolerate this any longer. This is the ultimate in EVERYTHING he did not strive for,” he wrote, referring to the house’s namesake, Cristóbal Balenciaga, also known for his elegance and craft. “They have taken his name and have conveniently used as a springboard for such mediocrity, such tastelessness, such ugly ideas. Without balance, respect for proportion, without quality, without integrity—just the whorish greed to sell a gym shoe, a t-shirt, a back pack.” Rucci continued.
“Enough. Remove his name from all this garbage. Rename it with something that mirrors what it is. This is not even the emperor’s new clothes... this is the moment for a smoke screen of season after season of the worst design ethic ever. How dare you people use his name. You may own it, but you will never honor him AND have a meaningful business until you cease! If you would like to have a brand that has the DNA in its vein as well as a direction and a couture, feel free to get in touch with me.”
You truly have to respect a man who will shit on someone so thoroughly and savagely and then put in his name for a job—that’s called hustle. But of course, the likelihood of Balenciaga canning Gvasalia and hiring someone like Rucci in the Instagram age is little to none: the house is owned by Kering, one of the biggest luxury corporations in the world, and the name of the game is raking in money. Demna’s Balenciaga is popular because it appeals to—and spoofs—American streetwear culture by reconfiguring historical touchstones (i.e. the dad shoe) and selling the ideas back to its audience. It’s a touch of nostalgia and a dose of irony with a sneer, and clearly it’s working. But we don’t have to accept it, people!