One of the most hyped kicks around is Balenciaga’s Triple S sneaker. Chunky in shape, thanks to its padded triple-stacked sole that was taken from running, basketball and track shoes (hence its name), designer Demna Gvasalia’s fall ’17 masterpiece has climbed the ranks of sneaker stardom in a very short amount of time.
It’s been pointed to as the reason for fashion’s fascination with “ugly shoes” (or at least had a part in pushing the movement forward). It lives at the intersection between streetwear and high fashion. It’s favored by die-hard sneakerheads, street-style stars and celebrities. It’s so in demand, it’s sold out everywhere.
And it’s for these reasons and the fact that it’s from a luxury brand like Balenciaga — quality-made construction and everything that comes with the promise of a Made-in-Italy product — that many have justified shelling out almost a grand for a pair (if they had the opportunity to, that is).
But now, Balenciaga has reportedly moved its manufacturing from Italy to China. Consumers have noted that recent Triple S sneakers have omitted the “Made in Italy” on the insole of the sneaker and added a “Made in China” print underneath the tongue.
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When one consumer inquired about the manufacturing change, customer service confirmed the switch with a response: “Thank you for your email. The Triple S [was] initially made in Italy, but the manufacturer of the shoe was moved to China where they have a savoir-faire and capacities to produce a lighter shoe.”
Perhaps it was to create a lighter shoe, or maybe it was to help the brand speed up production, seeing as how it’s one of today’s most in-demand sneakers. Still, the internet was very unhappy to learn about the switch. On a YouTube review video, users took to the comments to voice their frustrations and disappointment.
“Looks like they’re paying the same factories making Balenciaga reps to manufacture for them. The quality went dramatically down. Now it matches replica quality, especially the Balenciaga stitching. It was hard to replicate,” one user wrote. Another commented: “The ‘made in China’ production change is absolutely outrageous. They should now lower the price then, since that was one of the reasons for the 650 euro price tag. Really sad to see this but whatever.”
That’s all speculation, of course. There’s no hard-and-fast evidence anywhere to support any claims that Balenciaga’s manufacturing standards have deteriorated with the move, but it’s hard to ignore the din of consumer complaints. Will it eventually affect how people perceive the shoe? Will the demand drop? We’ll have to wait and see how it plays out.