The Year of the Heist: Fashion Crimes Take Center Stage

From stolen designer shoes to hijacked runway collections, 2023 has seen a surge in audacious fashion thefts that have captivated the public’s attention and challenged the boundaries of criminality.

In the past, fashion crimes were committed discreetly, hidden from public view. Scammers targeted the wealthy elite, while deceptive marketing schemes preyed on the masses. However, this year has witnessed a shift in the fashion crime landscape. Bold heists have emerged from the shadows, making headlines and captivating the collective imagination. The Summer of Scam has given way to the Year of the Heist, where thieves operate with unparalleled audacity and scale. From stolen footwear to hijacked runway collections, these fashion crimes have become a cultural phenomenon, blurring the lines between criminality and artistry.

The Tabi Tinder Theft

In September, a fashion crime of symbolic significance unfolded when a pair of Maison Margiela Tabi mary janes were stolen from New Yorker Alexis Dougé by a Tinder date. The theft gained widespread attention on fashion TikTok, with the community rallying behind Dougé to track down the culprit. The audacity of the theft was not in the monetary value of the shoes, but rather the affront to an entire community of fashion enthusiasts. The Tabi mary janes are a symbol of nonconformity and cultural connoisseurship, making the theft a party foul of epic proportions. The premeditated nature of the crime, with the thief orchestrating distractions to execute the theft, further added to the intrigue and villainous allure.

The Balmain Burglary

In France, a daring snatch operation targeted Balmain’s spring 2024 collection en route to the company’s headquarters. Nearly 50 pieces were stolen, posing a significant setback just days before the brand’s Paris Fashion Week show. However, the resilient team at Balmain managed to recreate approximately 70 percent of the stolen collection, receiving widespread support from fans and fellow designers. The whereabouts of the stolen clothes remain unknown, leaving a lingering question of what one would do with unreleased runway outfits. The heist showcased the audacity and resourcefulness of those bold enough to hijack a Balmain van.

The Unabashed Ransacker

Congressman George Santos emerged as a mascot for unabashed ransackers in 2023. Despite facing a mountain of federal charges, including fraud, identity theft, and fabricating an animal charity, Santos maintained a brazen public persona. His alleged spending of campaign funds on luxury items such as Botox, facials, and Hermès cemented his status as a vanity icon. Santos’s refusal to resign from Congress and his defiant attitude toward his crumbling political career only added to his high-fashion criminal image.

The Bling Ring Phenomenon

The year also witnessed a series of Bling Ring-esque thefts. A Brazilian couple fell victim to a $1.8 billion jewelry heist at a Beverly Hills hotel, while actress Lily Collins had a handful of rings stolen from her locker at a West Hollywood spa. However, justice prevailed in some cases. Sam Brinton, a former Biden administrator, was arrested and charged with grand larceny after being caught wearing stolen dresses from Tanzanian designer Asya Khamsin. These high-profile thefts highlight the allure and consequences of fashion crime.

Exclusivity and the Desire for Luxury

Amidst the rise of audacious fashion thefts, 2023 also saw the luxury fashion industry reach new heights of exclusivity. Aspiration shifted towards emulating the opulent yet understated style of the billionaires depicted in the hit TV show “Succession.” Celebrities like Gwyneth Paltrow and Pharrell flaunted their quiet luxury, while designer Phoebe Philo’s return collection featured leggings priced in the thousands. Acting rich became more challenging than ever, as everyday expenses soared and designer price tags became increasingly unattainable. The allure of luxury and the desire to project wealth played a significant role in the fashion crime narrative of 2023.


The Year of the Heist has brought fashion crimes into the spotlight, captivating the public’s attention and challenging societal norms. From stolen shoes to hijacked runway collections, these audacious thefts have blurred the lines between criminality and artistry. The allure of luxury and exclusivity, coupled with the audacity of the thieves, has made fashion crime a cultural phenomenon. As we reflect on the events of 2023, it becomes clear that the world of fashion is not immune to the allure of crime and the complexities of human desire.






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