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When a Must-Have ‘It’ Item Turns Out to Be Meh

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No one can wear shower shoes quite like Rihanna. Photo: Stance Socks

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I am very susceptible to limited-edition marketing — the kind that stores like Target and H&M use when they promote designer collaborations. When I encounter this specific type of hyperbolic, breathless hysteria, I inevitably get sucked in.

For example: I own a poofy-sleeve, stiff, ill-fitting dress from Lanvin for H&M; a Narciso Rodriguez for Kohl’s metallic sweater that lost its sheen after one wash; and an Altuzarra for Target sweatshirt (the sleeves shrunk). Since the Altuzarra incident of 2014, I’ve managed to avoid these types of collabs, though I admit my hands shook a little when I heard about Alexander Wang x H&M.

Fast forward to a few months ago, when Rihanna’s Fenty x Puma furry shower slides dropped. I wanted them, badly.

I’m firmly on #TeamRihanna, and pretty much adore everything she does and wears, despite the fact that Puma was charging $80 — EIGHTY DOLLARS — for rubber shower slides with fake fur on them. A regular non-Rihanna slide from Puma costs $25, to put this in perspective.

These slides spoke to me. I officially gave up heels this year after years of abuse, and have since immersed myself into the comfortable-footwear world with abandon. (I also work from home quite a bit, so I love a good comfy slide that I can wear around the house as a de facto slipper that still has enough protection from the foul New York city streets.)

I own several slides and have them all designated as indoor, outdoor, or gym-specific.

My current unexpected favorites are from a customizable brand called iSlide. They have the word "Benefit" on them (as in the cosmetics company) in huge bright pink letters. I’m a literal walking ad for the brand, but I’m fine with it because they’re so damn comfortable. (Also, they were free.) If Benefit is fine with assuming that people will look at my feet and think, "I need to buy some new eyebrow products!" then we are both getting something from this deal.

I bought the Rihanna slides from Nordstrom the morning of the launch, and the order miraculously went through; I even received a confirmation. The feeling is euphoric. "Yes, I’ve conquered my internet foes and have acquired something desirable!" (I don’t have foes, per se, but shopping limited-edition sometimes feels like a battle.) But then it all fell apart.

I will out myself here as the Racked employee who had one of what turned out to be several problems with Nordstrom’s online ordering process for said slides. The short story is that I was not getting them. Nor was I about to pay the ridiculous upcharge to resellers on eBay, because that is pathetic and undignified.

Instead, I watched countless Snapchat stories and read Instagram posts wherein lucky people smugly showed off their new slides, while I quietly mourned the fact that my feet would not be burrowed in polyester blend, Rihanna-branded fake fur.

But then news came that the slides would be available again, but only on Puma’s website at 10am sharp on July 1. I was traveling and wouldn’t be able to buy them then, but I went onto the site at 2pm and they were somehow still hanging around in my preferred color and size.

I hesitated.

If they’re still available, do I even still want them?

I bought them.

Almost two weeks later, they arrived. I tore into the box and tossed aside the velvet Fenty-branded dust bag, pulled out my slides, and put them onto my eager feet. They were... fine?

I don’t know exactly what I was expecting. (Yes I do. This.) They were slightly too big, the fur looked too shiny, and there was a weird bump near the toe of the slide that didn’t quite line up with the natural curve of my feet. The lyrics for "I Love the Way You Lie" started to repeat in my brain.

I took the slides for a walk outside to look for Pokémon. I came home with three Pidgeys and two blisters because the material is really stiff and without any sort of give.

I put my iSlides back on and relegated Rihanna to my "short walks to the ATM" shoe pile. I’m likely an outlier here, because I’ve read tons of rave reviews about how comfortable they are. Maybe I have deformed feet after wearing heels for so many years. Or, more likely, maybe my expectations were way beyond what synthetic footwear could possibly provide.

As anyone who’s purchased a faulty Kylie Jenner lip gloss knows, hype can be a bad thing — both for your expectations and your wallet. Rihanna, wise woman that she is, may have finally taught me this lesson once and for all.