The internet loves a good bit of righteous indignation and there's no better opportunity to get heated than when a seemingly out-of-touch luxury label introduces its latest outrageously expensive shirt, coat, bag, or sneaker. It always sparks performative outrage on a grand scale, the natural consequence of a Twitter-driven culture obsessed with callouts, clap-backs, and canceling.
Savvy luxury brands, aware that all press is good press, have begun willfully stirring the pot for some free press.
Balenciaga, for example, has mastered this dark art. It's got the $1.8k trash bags to prove it.
But modest Milanese luxury house Prada never indulges in shock value for the sake of financial value, which is exactly why we had to do a proper review of Prada's $1,000 tank top, issued as part of its Fall/Winter 2022 collection.
As tank top fever grants stylish folks the right to bare arms, it's actually become quite easy to find tops that drop the sleeves and up the price, like Zegna's knitted undershirt and this uneven tank top from Rick Owens.
But those are directional garments clearly created with a designer's vision in mind. At first blush, Prada's tank top looks not unlike the sort of ultra-ordinary base layer you might get from a brand like Hanes or Uniqlo. What's going on here?
Exactly what we were wondering. So we reached out to Prada about borrowing one of these high-falutin' tanks.
When you get hands-on with Prada's $1k tank, you immediately realize one major difference between this fancy tank top and all your cheapo ones: this thing barely stretches. It's made of medium-lightweight cotton that's soft to the touch and slightly dense but utterly bereft of the elasticity you may expect from a contemporary undershirt.
That's not a complaint, mind you, it's just a fact.
It's interesting, because it kinda feels like a capital-F Fashion brand turning its nose up to the athleisure boom. Suffer for fashion and all that — if simply not indulging in elastic form-fitting clothing = suffering.
On the other hand, if you aren't one of the off-duty models who's been flexing Prada's tanks for the past few months, it's gonna be a squeeze. Again, suffer for fashion and all that.
Prada's tank is cut slim and long, presumably so it can be easily tucked. You aren't missing anything if you do shove it into your pants, mind you. Nearly everything from the neckline down looks and feels like a pretty normal ribbed tank, from the finishing to the hem.
No, what your money's really getting you is the chunky triangle Prada emblem set into the tank's chest and embossed with the requisite branding.
This has some heft, though it's not uncomfortable or even really burdensome at all. Part of the secret is that Prada intelligently designed its tank top with thick topstitched seams on either side of each shoulder strap, adding necessary support to the neckline.
But even putting the meaty metal slab aside, Prada cut this tank with quite a deep neckline — strap support or not, expect the emblem to pull the top down a bit.
And that's about it. What you see is what you get, otherwise.
Quoth that one Wendy's ad from a hundred years ago, where's the beef?
Answer: there is no beef. There never was.
At first, I was a little disappointed that Prada's $1k tank top doesn't exactly feel like whatever I imagined a $1k tank top would feel like.
It's not satisfyingly weighty, it's not delicately gauzy, it's not incredibly distinct from, well, an ordinary ribbed cotton tank.
So, I pondered: how could anyone justify a $1,000 ribbed cotton tank top? Then I remembered the Prada emblem in its chest.
In that sense, Prada's tank top becomes the ultimate readymade. It's an indistinct, utilitarian garment filtered through the lens of late capitalism. I Shop Because I Am.
Is it art to sell a thin cotton undershirt for more than most folks' winter coats? Is it gross excess? It's everything and nothing.
Unlike Balenciaga's ultra-distressed sneakers, Prada's $1k tank top isn't exactly fashion gone wild, though.
The shock value doesn't come from the insane distressing that renders the garment nearly unwearable or some disturbing imagery, but from the extreme high-low contrast of a humble sweat shield repurposed as object of opulence.
It's challenging, like modern art oughta be. Not that Prada's tank top is art, mind you, but that the reaction it generates is the most interesting element of the garment.
Separating the sticker shock from the tank top almost renders it irrelevant. That gut reaction one gets from bearing witness to a $1,000 tank top is the point. Otherwise, there's nothing to say.
All the luxury clothing that doesn't generate a reaction, the stuff that doesn't titillate or challenge us, it falls by the wayside. It's nothing. Better to be bothered than bored.
If there is an achievement here, that's it: Prada made the world's most basic piece of clothing not boring.