The effect of neoliberal globalisation - poverty plummets. Credit, Our World in Data, CCSA

If you were to say that the world is grossly unequal I’d not disagree. I would want to point out that it’s getting better of course but that’s just a statement about how if it remained as it were then that would be a bad thing. We could then go on to discuss things that do make this better – or perhaps worse. And to be honest, charging rich idiots $500 and change for distressed sneakers strikes me as something that will make the situation better:

Give them the boot: $530 distressed sneakers accused of fetishizing poverty
Italian brand under fire as critics call selling expensive shoes that appear to be falling apart ‘peak capitalism’

Given that absolutely every other fetish is now to be celebrated I’m not quite sure this is a valid criticism. But still.

The Italian sneaker brand Golden Goose has come under heavy criticism across the internet this week as images of their Superstar Taped Sneaker have circulated. The sneaker, the latest example of the “distressed fashion” trend, is designed to appear worn and beaten up.

“Crumply, hold-it-all-together tape details a distressed leather sneaker in a retro low profile with a signature sidewall star and a grungy rubber cupsole,” reads the description of the sneaker, for sale at Nordstrom for $530.

Many online have accused the brand of fetishizing poverty, pointing out the cruel irony in people being able to afford such expensive sneakers while so many others are forced to wear their own until they fall apart without being able to think of it as a fashion statement.

“There are people in the world wearing plastic bags as shoes because they can’t afford any but these HIDEOUS things are selling for $500 the fashion industry is truly so fucking stupid it pisses me off like what the actual hell ??????!” wrote one offended Twitter user.

Well, yes. Those sneakers are undoubtedly made in the same factories that make all other footwear, the toilees in which make many times what they’d get in the absence of such work. That sounds like a useful contribution to ending poverty. Indeed exactly this sort of thing, that we all now buy things made by poor people in poor countries, is what has been slashing away at the level of poverty in the world.

Perhaps we’d prefer to complain about inequality? Which, along with poverty is something the world still has too much of. OK, that’s fine. So, rich idiots are about to be $530 in the wallet lighter. That money then all goes off to other people around the world, all and everyone in the supply chain gets a cut. Near all of whom are going to be poorer than the rich idiots now $530 lighter.

We seem to be both reducing poverty and reducing inequality by having some frippery as a Veblen Good. Can’t see the problem with this myself but then I was never very good at the “but reasons” argument.

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This is the great part about free markets. You can buy and sell whatever the hell you like, at whatever price pleases you. From time to time you get market participants, like the owners of the Guardian, who wish to destroy value, but most of us are looking out for a good deal. Golden Goose has, somewhat counter-intuitively, found a new way to give consumers what they want. Bravo.


Seems that it is a form of cultural appropriation, wearing new ratty shoes with your new torn jeans. We’ve been told for the past few years that this is a bad thing. Clearly there ought to be a law. Perhaps a committee formed first to study the issue. Maybe something in between, where permits could be issued authorizing someone to wear ratty looking clothes based on their tax returns.


The notable thing here is some people’s tendency to overpay for a simple act of creativity that they could do themselves for pennies, only they either can’t be bothered to, or have no creativity. Yes, Veblen (or “conspicuous consumption,” the desire to pay more money for its own sake). The saving grace is it’s their own money.

The poor whose own shoes are falling apart care as little as Colin Kaepernick’s police-as-pigs socks outraged the Porcine Community.