Making ugly things hot

Making Ugly Things Hot
 - Why Victoria Beckham had a point not wanting to wear Justin Biebers Crocs

by Siri Von Bothmer

Approaching a post-pandemic era and a balance between stay-at-home fashion and sexy cuts we sure are in quite an odd place. People seem to long for dress-up occasions and getting their hots on, meanwhile, workwear continues to trend and Crocs are a fashion statement in 2020. 

Balenciaga Platform Crocs SS18


Taking it further, the global love-and-hate relationship with Crocs goes beyond the pandemic fashion situation. It might stem from the idea that conventional fashion doesn’t allow worker class items such as rubber clogs to be accepted, or that the majority of not-fashion interested people doesn’t perpetuate plastic slippers as something to wear outside their garden, one might argue that this is a simple cause for ugliness. However, subcultures usually live a long time on their own before getting adapted by the big arms of capitalism. Nowadays the time frame is shortened. Though Crocs don’t belong to any subculture, we see both worker class categorised items and subcultures being commodified after seen somewhere else.


French sociologist Pierre Bourdieu argues that various forms of capital hold the status quo in power hierarchies. These types of symbolic capital, such as social or cultural capital, are ranked and appreciated differently in various fields and contexts. Depending on what type of symbolic capital a person behold, certain behaviours - habitus - gets reproduced and consolidated within the field or specific social context, as a sort of structure which we are acting accordingly. From a context of arts- and fashion, countryside or worker-class categorised items can be perceived as an asset in cultural capital, but places in a different field or on a person with another habitus would be seen as ugly. This is a sort of commodification by those who either have the economic capital to make it sexy or the people with social- or cultural capital who also have the power to make ugly things hot.


If the idea of strolling around in things the majority finds rather ugly is appealing, is it something we feel all tabula rasa or do these thoughts arise from the field we belong to and the context we’re upholding?


Pierre Bourdieu


Did Victoria Beckham advocate for the wider mass or dismantling social structures a few weeks ago when choosing the stairway to heaven rather than dressing up in Biebers Crocs?