The Goods

Who Would Buy Gucci’s $870 Pair of Sneakers That Look Dirty Out of the Box?

Screener leather sneaker $ 870 by Gucci.
Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Gucci.

Anyone who’s bought a new pair of sneakers is familiar with that murky gray period when they transition from blindingly clean to comfortably worn-in. Each stage presents its own joys, but the phase between, where you must choose between consistently cleaning your kicks to keep them looking new or letting them deteriorate into nonchalant dirtiness, is as agonizing as growing out a new haircut. Luckily, the fashion overlords at Gucci have just the fix: pre-distressed sneakers at the entirely affordable price of $870 (or $930 for the high-top version).

That’s right! For close to a grand, you, too, can own a pair of leather sneakers that looks like they’ve been busy pounding the New York City pavement during that beautiful time in the summer when the sun cooks the street garbage runoff into a shoe-destroying sticky brew. The “Screener” sneakers are part of the Italian fashion house’s spring/summer 2019 collection and are apparently “named for the sports defensive move,” though that ad copy sounds about as familiar with sports as I am. They feature the “[Sylvie] Web stripe on the side and vintage Gucci logo” in a few 1970s-esque colors and “are treated for an allover distressed effect.”

Despite the fact that the theoretical draw of the shoes is that observers will be none the wiser when they eventually get dirty for real, the website still lists meticulous care instructions such as “clean when the shoe is dry, using only neutral or same-color products to avoid staining” and “should the material become wet, dry it with a soft, dry cloth.” In fact, Gucci even recommends that buyers “fill shoe with tissue paper to help maintain the shape and absorb humidity, then store in the provided flannel bag and box.” This, of course, raises the question of what exactly the point of selling a pair of pre-distressed sneakers is if one must take as precise care of them as any other pair of $900 shoes. If you’re buying a distressed vintage item, the age of the thing is the selling point. If you’re buying a distressed nonvintage item, the allure is projecting an image of grungy apathy. But the Gucci sneakers fall somewhere in an unappealing middle: too new to be vintage, too expensive to be indifferent. They render the wearer a trend-chaser, dirtying himself as he tries not to appear as one.

Price: $870 (or $930 for the high-top version).

Who would buy this thing? Regina George’s “cool” mom in Mean Girls.