Save yourself $925 by not buying Balenciaga's "towel skirt"

Now that Summer 2024 is almost upon us, you've just about run out of time to snatch up this gem from Balenciaga's Spring 2024 collection. It's a mere $925 and will make you look like you're fresh out of the….shower. Yes, you read that right, the shower. What is this item of clothing that costs almost a cool grand? Well, it looks exactly like a towel. Hannah Jackson of Vogue explains that it's not just any towel, though. It's a really fancy fitted towel with two buttons and an internal belt. Except, though, it still looks just like a towel. She further explains

What apparently sets this look apart from every other gray bath towel is the embroidered Balenciaga logo on the front of the skirt, and—perplexingly—the fact that it's dry clean only.

Unsurprisingly, the skirt inspired many strong opinions on social media. "Remember someone actually pitched this idea, managers agreed to it, someone manufactured it, someone made the marketing for it, someone uploaded it on the website, and still no one thought this is a bad idea," one person wrote on X. "I can literally buy one that looks like that for $15 at Kmart," another added.

Julia Hobbs of Vogue actually wore the "towel skirt" to work to try it out. She describes how she styled it:

How does one style a towel for the office? Well, early on a particularly crisp Tuesday morning, I peeled on two pairs of Wolford opaque tights and a polo neck body, added H&M's knit balaclava, Balenciaga sunglasses, stilettos, and swathed myself in the towel skirt. Fifteen minutes later, on the Elizabeth Line, it looked like I'd locked myself out of the house while doing the bins. Only the bins were across town.

Why do people spend so much money on such ridiculous items? Sociologist Thorstein Veblen, writing in 1899, would have called buying and wearing the towel skirt a form of "conspicuous consumption"—a term he coined that refers to the visual display of luxury goods and leisure activities that signal wealth. 

Others might simply answer, "Fashion, baby!" Hannah Jackson at Vogue provides some context and history of the use of towels as high fashion:

The eyebrow-raising skirt comes months after Balenciaga's creative director Demna told Vogue that he was planning to turn away from gimmicky pieces and pare down the brand's image. "It's a serious job, you know, to make clothes. It's not about creating image or buzz or any of those things," he said in a February interview. 

And this may not consciously be a gimmick at all. While plenty memed already, Balenciaga is far from the first to present towels as a high fashion. For spring 2020, Prada, Fendi, and Ludovic de Saint Sernin sent towel skirts down the runway, while Miu Miu and Acne Studios did it in 2017 and 2015, respectively. In 2018, Donatella Versace even revived a butterfly-printed terry cloth ensemble from Gianni Versace's 1995 collection. Marc Jacobs made a sequined take on a towel dress that was featured in the February 1989 issue of Vogue.

Julia Hobbs of Vogue gets philosophical about what the towel skirt might mean in our current times: 

If the towel skirt is to be read as a comment on our times, my sense is that it hints at a modern human desire to linger in the chrysalis phase of our day—those moments before we are confronted with the news, the emails, the noise. Swaddled in a bath towel, we get to suspend the outside world a while longer. Would I wear it again? Perhaps. There is something rather beautiful in the idea of an outfit that lets you take the most peaceful moments of your day with you…

I'm not sure I buy it, though (pun intended!), as it seems incredibly wasteful, privileged, and indulgent to buy a beige towel that costs $925 simply because it has the word "Balenciaga" embroidered on it. Instead, go to your linen closet or bathroom, grab a towel, and wrap it around your waist. Voila! I saved you about $925 dollars! You're welcome!

Previously: Buy this filthy, destroyed jeans-and-jacket combo for a mere $5600