Bloggers rain down on the parade of luxury brand designers

Luxury brands are once again mired in an online debate over product value and functionality after previewing their latest collections.

One of the most talked about items is an umbrella from the adidas x Gucci collaboration, priced at 11,100 yuan ($1,653) on Gucci’s official website in China, and it’s not even waterproof.

The luxury umbrella features a G-shaped handle and printed designs that combine the symbolic designs of both brands.

“Please note this item is not waterproof and is intended for sun protection or decorative use,” the product details read.

It has sparked widespread controversy on Chinese social media since it went live last month.

“It might rob you, but still gives you an umbrella as a keepsake – so merciful,” one Weibo user remarked on the post, which garnered 24,438 votes.

Many netizens saw it as “an item for the rich to boast about their wealth.”

Spanish luxury brand Balenciaga is also in hot water after releasing its latest set of sneakers.

The dirty, rough shoes filled with massive holes and tears are priced at US$1,850, which has sparked amusement and angry comments online. According to the brand, these “extra shredded” high-tops are a limited edition and are selling out fast.

“As I’ve been wearing shoes exactly like this for years, I realize that I’m always walking on the front lines of high fashion,” joked an influential blogger with 950,400 followers on Weibo.

“I can find one in the trash right now,” quipped another Weibo user.

“I would like to thank these luxury brands, because they never deceive us poor people,” quipped a surfer.

Bloggers rain down on the parade of luxury brand designers

The latest series of sneakers from Balenciaga

As a result, the topic of “worn shoes sold for US$1,850” on Weibo has been read around 400 million times, which propelled Balenciaga into the top three “most popular hits”.

“It shows the huge difference in people’s understanding of the luxury industry,” said Flora Zhang from the marketing department of an American fashion brand. “Ordinary consumers always focus more on functionality when making a buying decision, but luxury brands outsell their products.”

This echoes fashion writer Xi Wu.

“It’s a symbol that shapes social identity,” Xi said. “In a consumer world, you are what you buy. Millions of reads with broad social attention is not an easy KPI mission to achieve. It’s talked about and remembered – branding is that way enhanced.”

James T. Quintero