[dropcap size=small]T[/dropcap]he uninitiated might do a double take while passing the recently unveiled Golden Goose Deluxe Brand pop-up store at luxury shoe boutique Pedder On Scotts. Displayed on spotless glass shelves are leather sneakers that look like they have seen better days – think grey marks and scuffed soles.

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But that’s the USP of the Italian brand, which has earned a big following with shoes that are worked on – or over – by Venetian artisans who distress them by hand (seriously). The aim: A timeworn, lived-in look that consumers can instantly avail themselves of, for several hundred dollars.

BEYOND SCUFFED The Golden Goose sneakers even have a resin coating that resembles dripping water.

Deliberately worn-out clothing is – pardon the pun – far from new. In the 1970s, for instance, punk icon and fashion designer Vivienne Westwood peddled clothing that looked torn and were held together by safety pins. Ripped jeans, sported by everyone from David Beckham to David Hasselhoff , are commonplace. Whether the goal is to look like a member of a rebellious subculture or simply a laidback person who’s worn the same denim for years, distressed clothing offers a shortcut to authenticity.

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Even so, designers seem to have gone a bit mad trying to deliver weathered gear fresh out of the box, and we’re not just talking about grubbylooking sneakers. Last year, a pair of US$425 (S$573) jeans made headlines with its faux “muddy coating” meant to “embody rugged workwear that’s seen some hardworking action”. Amiri, an up-and-coming California label, makes holes in its sweatshirts by shooting at them with guns. Talk about fashion victims.