Kanye’s “Ripped Homeless Sweaters”
Ever since the Kanye x Adidas 2015 Collection, the disparity between clothing price vs. clothing appearance has been itching at me. Not all of the clothing in his collection was ripped up, but this sweater. This sweater, that was certainly attacked by moms hyped up on coffee during a black Friday sale, cost $2,243. Does the fact that Kylie Jenner is wearing the sweater convince you to invest in this already deteriorating article of clothing?
Kanye even went on a twitter tirade on how much he believes in his “ripped homeless sweaters.” Regarding the prices, MR PORTER, a retailer, defends them with this statement:
“Underlining these steep prices, however, is absolutely top-notch quality that will give luxury houses a run for their money. Each piece is made in Italy at some of the world’s best factories, using only the finest materials…fabrics featured in the collection could easily have been developed and used by urban fashion’s leading forces.”
I don’t know much between the differences in fabrics, but I would never expect a ripped up sweater to be produced in “some of the world’s best factories, using only the finest materials”.
Now what really got me to look into this subject was this paper bag. No, it’s actually a purse. Don’t you see the small print “Jil Sander” brand on the bottom? The New York Post nicknames it the “Rolls-Royce of paper bags” because this bag sells for $290, and is the most expensive brown paper bag ever made. What differs it from typical paper bag is that it is made “from high-durability coated paper, features stitched seams, and four metal eyelets.” Paper bags are disposable objects usually used for storing food and costs well under $1 per bag. However this “clutch” is considered high-fashion and was sported by trendy bloggers and celebrities alike. And when it was first released a few years ago, it sold out everywhere.
“The Southernmost Gentleman” fashion blog, which posted the photo above, declared it as a “must-have”. I had to do a little bit of a double take when I saw the photo because I truly believed this man was holding a paper bag.
Therefore, I surmise that it is not the look of these articles of clothing that makes the sell, it’s the brand. This is brand loyalty to an extreme. It is definitely a niche market, attracting only hardcore fashion mavens. And as I asked before, maybe a lot of people would buy it just because Kylie Jenner wore it. It sounds crazy but we all do it, just to a lesser extent. For example, if there are 2 denim jackets at a store side-by-side and one is an unrecognized brand and the other is a Levi’s jacket, but it costs more, I’m sure most would buy the Levi’s. We trust Levi’s as a dependable denim brand from experience. Even if the other jacket was of equal quality.
But in the case of Jil Sander and Kanye, I am not in favor of the manipulation of their customers to have to spend tons of cash for such low-end looking objects. The only thing these customers gain by having these products is the ability to gloat to someone else that you’re “wearing Yeezy”. Paying more to look like you have less? It’s actually quite twisted. There are so many people who only have terribly ripped up clothing because they can’t afford a new clothes. They don’t wear ripped clothes for fashion or to gloat about brands. It could really be all they have, and they usually have no aesthetic reason to be wearing what they are wearing.
In fact, below this picture of Kanye’s jacket is a picture I took last year when my family and I went to Mexico to do charity work during the holidays. He’s wearing a dirty camouflage jacket and is holding a paper bag, just like the Yeezy model and the Jil Sander bag. We brought this boy a backpack full of school supplies and lots of snacks because not only him, but all of the kids in the photo cannot even afford to pay for things we take for granted, like pencils and notebooks. How many people go out of their way to help someone who is wearing clothes just like these but is actually homeless? Paying more to look like the homeless, but ignoring the homeless man on the corner of the street, is not ok. And I don’t know, maybe Kanye does do some charity work. But mimicking the clothes that the less fortunate wear out of pure function, in the name of fashion, undermines the fact that a large percent of the world population has no choice but to wear clothes like these. It’s ironic really, that the upper class is trying to look like the lower class by spending a lot. Instead of spending $290 on a paper bag, why not buy one for less than a dollar and donate $289 to the under privileged? Homeless clothing made into a commodity.
All I have left to ask is if this boy’s outfit Kanye-approved.