We Made Our Own Version of the Controversial $1,850 Balenciaga Sneakers

We had $50, an old pair of Converse, and a sense of duty.

Photo: Maridelis Morales Rosado
Photo: Maridelis Morales Rosado
Photo: Maridelis Morales Rosado

Early this week, Balenciaga unveiled the newest version of its Paris Sneaker, a $1,850 distressed-to-the-point-of-falling-apart pair of shoes that had everyone asking, “Is this a joke?” Well, it might be. It wouldn’t be the first time this week that a brand released a product that left the world wondering whether it was a PR stunt.

The ad campaign shared on social media depicted very, very exaggerated versions of the shoes that will actually be for sale: 100 pairs of a limited-edition “Fully Destroyed” shoe, which are beat up but not falling apart so much as to be unwearable. Some have compared the shoes to “beat-up Converse,” and others to the Superstar Sneakers from Italian brand Golden Goose, which has its own history of fetishizing poverty with $500 distressed sneakers. To me, they recall my teen years, when my dad would angrily ask me why my new jeans had rips in them only to go on and on about how ridiculous it was that I was buying something that was already ruined. At the time, I didn’t understand his indignation, especially since the jeans cost less than $100, but now I do. One Twitter user said it best: “Balenciaga gotta be a social experiment.”

  1. Maridelis Morales Rosado

  2. Maridelis Morales Rosado

  3. Maridelis Morales Rosado

  4. Maridelis Morales Rosado

  5. Maridelis Morales Rosado

/ 5

So we decided to do our own experiment. Fashion market editor Roberto Johnson and I set out to Balenciagaify a pair of our own sneakers and make our own version for way under $1,850. Unsurprisingly, it wasn’t that hard to do. Here’s how:

First, we started off with some pre-worn Converse that were slightly discolored and featured some normal wear and tear. (The shoes we used retail for around $65.)

Then we used a box cutter to make some slits on the side of the shoes, similar to the ones on the Balenciagas. After, we used sandpaper to rub them out and add the fringe that comes from a tear over time. We then rubbed some yellow-ocher patina powder (a distressing tool that I learned about today) on the tears, giving the shoe a yellowy color, and used a rubber eraser to add some layers of discoloration.

Photo: Maridelis Morales Rosado

For the base of the shoe, we rubbed on some Dirt Worx Schmere, better known as movie dirt, but some dirt from the sidewalk would also do the trick. I got a little carried away and put some on the canvas of the shoe, but it turned out alright. These are destroyed shoes, after all. In total, it took us about an hour to destroy these shoes, the tools we had to buy to do this were around $50, and I’d say we got pretty close to a perfect result.

Turns out Balenciagaing your own shoes isn’t as hard, or as expensive, as it looks.

Photos: Maridelis Morales Rosado.
Photos: Maridelis Morales Rosado.
We Made Our Own Version of the $1,850 Balenciaga Sneakers