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Kids in Rotterdam wearing Gucci & Balenciaga might be stopped by the cops

OK, this gives a whole new meaning to the term ‘fashion police’

Have you ever been stopped by the police for looking too good? No? Well, if you’re heading to Rotterdam any time soon – and you’re looking the shit – that might just change, as Netherlands police are rolling out a new program designed to reduce crime in the city.

In a move that gives a whole new meaning to the idea of the fashion police, Rotterdam law enforcers plan to stop young men wearing designer clothing and question them as to where it came from, if it’s thought that the individual may not be able to afford their clothes legally. Basically, if you look too poor to be able to afford that Saint Laurent jacket or those Gucci loafers, you’d better be able to prove where you got them from.

As was reported by Dutch newspaper De Telegraf, chief of Rotterdam police Frank Paauw stated that “we [the police] are going to undress them on the street” if it was suspected items hadn’t been earned by way of your typical 9 – 5. A spokesman for the police department continued, ”we know they have clothes that are too expensive to wear with the money they get. We’re going to look at how they got those clothes, where did they buy them, and from where did the money come that they bought them with”.

According to the Netherlands police press department, however, the reports have been sensationalised, and in the three weeks since the original article was published on January 3, nuance and context has been added for those with concerns about the controversial plans.

“We were surprised to see the reports in the British media,” said a representative speaking on behalf of the Rotterdam police. “The story has been completely blown out of proportion. What we are looking at is monitoring a small, specific group of youths, in a specific area of Rotterdam, where each individual is known by name to the officers that are assigned to that area. We won’t be stopping visitors and tourists in Rotterdam and stripping them, and we won’t be stripping anyone else either. It’s not random in any way. We’re unsure how people got that idea".

The program, which is still currently in the planning stages and is not guaranteed to be rolled out at all, will see the police target a number of men between the ages of 16 and 30 that are already known to be involved in or influenced by criminal activities that include drug trafficking – an ongoing problem in the city.

Many have expressed concern that the move will result in racial profiling and goes against a previous policy outlined by police in which they stated they will not target people that look like ‘typical criminals.’

“That’s not an issue,” the representative told us, “we’ll be stopping only people known to us. In the same way as in the UK, when a drug kingpin or a ‘big player’ has their Ferrari confiscated following a judge’s ruling, we want to see if confiscating items like an expensive watch, a D&G tracksuit, or a pair of Prada shoes from someone that has been arrested for drug dealing will act as a deterrent from committing crimes in the future. We want to show these kids that crime doesn’t pay”.

“We want to see if confiscating items like an expensive watch, a D&G tracksuit, or a pair of Prada shoes from someone that has been arrested for drug dealing will act as a deterrent” – Police spokesperson

While reports surrounding the plan do seem to have been sensationalised, there are still questions as to exactly how it will be executed should it go ahead – namely, just how the designer goods will be identified. With the breadth of the luxury market growing exponentially, is it realistic to think that police officers will be able to spot the more subtle examples of designer items? And if not, will the youths of Rotterdam – that may or may not be involved in criminal activities – adopt more understated, less obviously-designer looks in an effort to evade detection and subsequent confiscation?

One of the biggest trends of 2017, as championed by Demna Gvasalia at Vetements and Balenciaga, was ”dadcore” after all – a look that has transformed previously nondescript items including bumbags, cagoules, boxy, too-big blazers, and… well… Crocs into some of the most desirable – and expensive – pieces in the luxury fashion market today.

Elsewhere, the likes of Rei Kawakubo, Rick Owens, Maison Margiela, and Raf Simons have made their names on the art of deconstruction, offering up collections that don’t immediately appear ‘luxurious’. And there’s also the question of counterfeit goods, and how the Rotterdam police will be able to differentiate between what’s fake and what’s the real deal, particularly when it’s well known that luxury houses employ whole departments specialising in authenticity, with items occasionally slipping through the net given just how genuine they look.

“I couldn’t say how we would do it, or how we would know a pair of Prada shoes from a pair of Balenciaga ones” – Police spokesperson

When questioned on this, Rotterdam police’s press spokesman told us “you know, that’s very hypothetical. We have no system in place to seize people’s pricey clothes just now, and no way of looking at that at the moment. So I couldn’t say how we would do it, or how we would know a pair of Prada shoes from a pair of Balenciaga ones (laughs)”.

Whether the Rotterdam police department is being enrolled on to a fashion course as we speak, they've backtracked on their initial plan following the subsequent outcry, or the program really was sensationalised by the media is unclear. What we do know, though, is that given the force are basing their (outdated) idea of what a criminal looks like on an IG drug dealer starter pack – and wouldn't know their Triple S from their Tabi, or their Rick from their Raf – the plan doesn't really seem to have legs. Back to the drawing board, guys.