These beat-up high-tops sure look like something you would find swinging off a downtown girder, don't they?

But, while they might appear to be straight out of your local Dumpster, we're talking fashion here. The "distressed" look is part (maybe most) of their charm.

In fact, these shoes are of the moment, cool as the other side of the pillow. They're from the autumn/winter 2007-08 collection of Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, whose mostly black clothing is considered art.

Well-worn, washed out, a little too tight? You're at the cutting edge. These kicks are from the Y's line by Yamamoto that offers not just distressed shoes but tops and bottoms too, many of them with unfinished edges. That's a concept formerly known as "frayed." This is what the fashion world calls "raw" or "street."

To be raw or street is a good thing. Or, as a Yamamoto rep explained: "It's the whole idea of looking very used and luxurious rather than something spanking new and shiny. A different view of elegance.

"You know how some people say the best T-shirts are something that have been worn a thousand times?"

The shoes shown might seem to have been worn a thousand times. But they're fresh out of the box.

Examined up close, they look like they're python. But a call to Yamamoto headquarters in New York establishes that they're really leather that's been cut to look like reptile.

At the other end of the design spectrum, the classic canvas Converse high-top sneakers can be purchased in stores across the country for about $42. What price fashion? These fake snakes cost exactly 10 times that.