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Kanye West and the trend of designer galoshes

How a rubber boot has become the new cult object of luxury footwear

Kanye West and the trend of designer galoshes How a rubber boot has become the new cult object of luxury footwear

Last Sunday Kanye West brought his Sunday Service to livestraming, with a show that had as guests Justin Bieber and Marilyn Manson raising the controversy about the accusations made against the rock singer. For the occasion, the choir and the three singers were entirely dressed in white and wore the Balenciaga Crocs Boot already seen at Ye's feet on several occasions during the last few months, especially during his lunch in New York with Anna Wintour and during his recent visit to Berlin. Last Sunday's show, however, was almost an official consecration of the new status of "cult object" of the boot, which has now become part of the official uniform of the Sunday Service Choir, but already appeared almost everywhere in recent years after their appearance in the FW20 show of Bottega Veneta in February 2020, even reaching the feet of celebrities opposite each other such as Bella Hadid and Greta Thunberg. In fact, the Balenciaga Crocs Boot as well as the Puddle Boot by Bottega Veneta are very similar to each other and represent the arrival point of a long gestation that began with the trend of chunky shoes, has collected both the suggestions of the outerwear world and those of futuristic footwear without laces transforming the common rubber boot into gardening in the most avant-garde category of luxury footwear.

One of the first signs of this trend, already starting from 2019 had come from two very different designers, Riccardo Tisci and Jun Takahashi, who had brought from Burberry and Undercover respectively the Arthur Sneaker, which was chunky and with a rubber mudguard, and the Rect Boot, signed in collaboration with Nike. Both models are inspired by the classic English Wellington Boot, the very common rubber boot to shelter from the rain, whose rounded and almost childish shape had already been brought by Phoebe Philo in Celine's repertoire (and it is good to note how Daniel Lee is a former student of Philo) who even has a precedent in the history of pop culture with Kate Moss and her famous photos at the Glastonbury festival dating back to the early years 2000,  often in the company of her boyfriend of the time Pete Doherty, who at the time was one of the boy-images of Hedi Slimane's Dior Homme, and who portrayed her in chic rock outfits composed that almost always included the combination of wellington Boots completely muddied with shorts or miniskirts. A look with a fairly grunge flavor that Slimane even mentioned in his SS21 collection by Celine. 

Se la loro silhouette a metà fra il minimalistico, il tecnico e il futuristico ha dato ai Wellington Boots il loro status di culto, i Balenciaga Crocs Boot rappresentano un ulteriore passo avanti nella stratificazione culturale che riguarda l’item – in quanto citazione diretta alla collaborazione fra Balenciaga e Crocs iniziata con la collezione SS18 del brand e che rileggeva nei termini dell’ironia di Gvasalia lo status di ugliest shoe di queste ultime facendole diventare chunky ed elevando di fatto l’intero brand avviando una lunga stagione di collaborazioni che va avanti ancora oggi. Gvasalia ha spesso l’abitudine di inserire scarpe rese famose in specifiche subculture nei suoi show: pensiamo alla rilettura delle New Rock degli emo-goth vista nel recente show SS22 o agli stivali da motocross e alle Five Finges di Vibram della FW20. 

The brilliant operation behind the creation of the Balenciaga Crocs Boot lies precisely in taking a culturally very "warm" product and giving it a hyper-recognizable twist using the silhouette of the Crocs, now associated with Gvasalia and Balenciaga, to incorporate into the aesthetics of its brand one of the symbolic pieces of another, the Puddle Boot by Bottega Veneta, which is in turn a pillar of the ugly chic aesthetic. The process, however, also gives us a glimpse of the nature of the new creative processes of fashion in the era of large conglomerates: if Demna has been able to create a product so close to the original of another brand, using practically the same famous shade of green, it is precisely because in the ecosystem of these titans of the luxury industry the same product can be taken up and modified to accommodate new meanings and signifiers,  and become part of the language of more than one designer without apparent continuity.