Gucci has been blasted on social media for selling a pair of sneakers that have been designed to look dirty for £615/$870. The luxury Italian fashion house says the off-white men’s leather trainers have been made to look “vintage” and “distressed.”
The Screener trainers are available in a range of colors, all of which include the same shabby aesthetic. The shoes, however, haven’t been well received on social media with critics accusing Gucci of "commercializing poverty" and describing the sneakers as an example of “peak capitalism”.
“Some people have more money than sense. It’s ridiculous,” one user commented. While another added, “Typical high-end designer commercializing poverty.” The 70s-inspired sneakers are from Gucci’s Cruise 2019 collection and are worn-in all over the sole and upper.
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Taking its name from a basketball playing term, the #GucciScreener sneaker is inspired by a vintage sports style from the 70s, mixing old school shapes and materials in a silhouette that features the nylon House Web stripe. A ‘screener’ is a team member who blocks a move by a player from the opposing team, to free a teammate to shoot, receive a pass, or drive in to score. Discover the #GucciCruise19 collection by @alessandro_michele through link in bio. #AlessandroMichele
Gucci also sells a pair of tennis shoes, named the Rhyton, with a similar “distressed” off-white look. Both shoes are part of a growing trend of dirty-looking shoes. Last September, Italian shoe brand Golden Goose was also criticized for selling a pair of its trainers that appeared to be taped-up with duct tape. The shoes were listed at £400/$530, and the company was accused of "glorifying poverty."
The negative reaction to the shoes follows another public relations disaster for the luxury fashion house. Last week, Gucci came under fire for selling a balaclava knit top that people said resembled “blackface.” The black top featured a pull-up neck and a cutout with giant red lips.
Creative director Alessandro Michele said that the design had been inspired by the late performance artist, Leigh Bowery, who was known for his extravagant makeup. Michele finally agreed that the item could be perceived as offensive and had it pulled from stores. The company also apologized saying that it was committed to diversity and considered it a “fundamental value to be fully upheld, respected and at the forefront of every decision we make.”
Gucci was also criticized last year when they launched a $470 one-piece bathing suit that you couldn’t actually get wet. The “sparkling swimsuit” was made of 80 per cent nylon and 20 per cent elastane, and couldn’t “come into contact with chlorine.”
Gucci, a luxury brand of fashion and leather goods, was founded by Guccio Gucci in Florence, Tuscany, in 1921. In 2017, the company reported revenues of more than $7.1 billion. Despite some design faux pas, the brand is actively involved in philanthropic projects.
The company is the largest corporate donor of Schools for Africa, a project established in 2004 by UNICEF, the Nelson Mandela Foundation, and the Hamburg Society. It works to increase access to basic schooling, especially for children orphaned by HIV/AIDS and children living in extreme poverty.