I’ve always been fascinated by how some products can quickly rise to prominence even if they’re so basic and/or derivative. It’s even more fascinating when these products are made by luxury labels. Remember those Balenciaga shopping bags that were facsimiles of our very own Divisoria bayongs? They were huge—sometimes for the wrong reasons, but still.
I remember almost 10 years ago when Karl Lagerfeld was spotted toting a canvas bag emblazoned with the words “Karl Who?” Vogue called it “the most sought-after item of the season” and they were right. I wanted that bag so bad.
Suddenly, I was into canvas bags. And I assume many people instantly became into it as well as similar bags populated retail racks everywhere. I don’t remember how much the “Karl Who?” bag cost but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t P150 as other shopping bags made with the same material are priced at your neighbourhood department store.
Now, the “basic” item of the season seems to be the Gucci slide. To be specific, it’s the green-and-red-striped one pictured here. Yes, this is the same footwear worn by Justin Bieber in 2013, which was described at that time as “frightening.” (To be fair to the critics, he paired it with red socks, which truly was an unsettling choice.)
The tables have apparently turned and this once-unfashionable style (minus the sock) has done a complete 180.
A non-brand sandal like this costs less than P200 but the Gucci version, called the Web slide sandal, retails for US$210 on the label’s website. The obsession with these casual flip-flops appears to have reached its peak because there are replicas selling for P250 at bazaars from Greenhills to Boracay.
There are also more expensive iterations running into the thousands, which sellers claim to be factory overruns or OEMs (made by the original equipment manufacturer). Though that claim is suspicious as original Gucci slides are made in Italy.
It’s amazing how a simple rubber sandal can be so coveted. Don’t get me wrong: it’s a pretty piece of footwear but it’s still just a tsinelas whose only point of differentiation is the famous stripe (or as Gucci likes to call it, the “Web detail”). I’m that amazed because I find myself wanting a pair after seeing some of my favorite Instagram personalities in them—and I don’t even wear slides. It’s crazy, perhaps a bit comical, only because it’s true.