Dress to Distress

I don’t know why in the world Facebook’s algorithm thinks I can afford a pair of $275 shoes… or that I would pay $275 for a pair of shoes even if I could. But here’s an ad I received in my newsfeed recently.

The concept of “distressed” shoes selling for an outrageous price of $275+ is unbelievable. Although to be fair, I’m shocked when any shoes sell for more than $200. They’re shoes for goodness’ sake. The fact that people are willing to pay such an exorbitant amount of money to have shoes that look like they have been run over by a mountain bike is perplexing, but people are doing it.

Back in the day, Reeboks were among the most expensive sneakers out there at “just” $65, and yes, I admit that I bought a pair. I was young, what can I say. But I tell you what, we did everything we could to keep them as fresh and clean as possible. There was even a cleaning solution especially for sneakers that was a hot item in the shoe department. Clean shoes were all the rage. No matter what we put those shoes through the night before, the next morning we were there scrubbing away with a toothbrush to remove the evidence. The idea of spending three and a half times that amount to buy shoes that look like they’ve already been on someone’s feet for a year is absurd.

Now, I get the appeal of well-worn shoes — like my beloved Chuck Taylors, but that appeal comes from the fact that they were worn to the point of being raggedy through constant use. Those shoes are loved. It’s the repetitive wear that gives the shoes character and makes them unique. They’ve seen things. But buying already distressed shoes? It’s like buying a ticket to a concert and just getting the cassette tape.

And these shoes aren’t made to be comfortable either because that would be a whole different thing. I’m not saying I’d be down with it, but a comfortable shoe with modern footwear technology that replicates that old retro look makes more sense. But that’s not the case, you know it’s not. People are willing to pay top dollar for shoes that are downright uncomfortable. Shoes are supposed to be comfy, especially if they cost $275. Buying shoes that look like they’ve been dragged through the mud or were found in a storage unit that hasn’t been opened since 1986 is a complete waste of money.

Why not buy a pair of new shoes that are comfortable and will last for years to come? Then drag them through the mud yourself. I mean, come on. They’re sneakers. You’re supposed to at least walk in them, if not exercise, so do some walking… or run them over with a mountain bike yourself. You’ll get the same distressed aesthetic and they’ll already be comfortable. But you know these shoes aren’t going to be comfortable. They’re too fashionable to be comfortable. Can you imagine having to break in a pair of shoes that already look broken in?  How confusing would that be every time you slipped them on?

The concept of already distressed shoes is not just a trend in the shoe industry but also in the fashion world. Jeans with holes in them are also popular. So popular in fact, that intact jeans are hard to come by. Trust me, I know. I was just recently shopping for jeans and finding hole-less jeans was a quest worthy of Zelda.

What happened to buying nice jeans and feeling the pride of ruining them through long summer nights, wild adventures, and things you had to keep from your parents? There was a sense of accomplishment in wearing a pair of jeans that were well-worn and had stories to tell. The same can be said for shoes.

You know, I just had a crazy idea. I’m going to check the back of my closet this weekend and dig out some of my old clothes. I might have a pair of Reeboks I beat the living hell out of in the 90s that could buy me some of that fancy top-shelf wine. Or better yet, the first person to Venmo me $200 gets the random pair of old shoes in the Payless box under my bed.



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