Gucci is the latest brand to come under fire for “cultural appropriation,” this time for a line of shoes released alongside the fashion label’s Resort 2017 ready-to-wear collection. The accused shoes, according to gay activists, resemble shoes popular with punk LGBT scenesters in the 1980s.
The “Mary Jane” style shoes feature huge buckles and straps that wrap around the ankle and lower leg. One pair is sort of a cutaway boot, that cages in most of the wearer’s lower leg in a style that looks both hip and like you’d probably get blisters behind your knee after ten minutes of wear.
The shoes are also aggressively ugly. And cost just shy of $2,000 per pair.
Gucci openly admits that the shoes were inspired by the “Queercore” fashion movement of the 1980s, an offshoot of the late ’70s/early ’80s punk style that embraced pop art, and focused its anger with society on how mainstream society treated LGBT individuals. It gave rise to lots of great music, immersive contemporary art projects and even a few punk-era ‘zines.
Gucci says Queercore “lent” its name to the shoes, which “reflect[s] he spirit of the subculture, the styles are fitted with multiple straps, studs and metal embellishments, including the Dionysus buckle.”
Not so fast, say the inventors of Queercore. No one said Gucci could the term, and the thought of paying thousands for a pair of Mary Janes just isn’t in keeping with the nature of punk.
“Queercore didn’t ‘lend it’s name’ to Gucci for their shoes. I should know, I invented the term ‘Queercore,'” filmmaker GB Jones told LGBTQ Nation. “They stole it, plain and simple. It’s theft.”
The “parents” of the movement went on to say that their lives’ work was made while “toiling in poverty and obscurity,” and it’s unfair that Gucci would turn around and use their creations to sell shoes that punk-era artists could never afford – and not to mention that Queercore was “diametrically opposed to consumerism.”
“You’d think with all the money they pay their people, someone at the office could have come up with something original,” Jones added. “I live on less in an entire month than it would cost to buy one pair of these shoes, and I managed to invent the term!”
Gucci did not respond to requests for comment. Or, for that matter, requests by Heat Street to examine the shoes for ourselves, in person.