The current state of fashion is an odd one. Most would agree that the normcore trend, which challenged traditional ideas surrounding fashion by popularizing previously unfashionable garments, has ended. However, the spirit of rethinking the meaning and connotations of fashion is alive and well, and nowhere is that more visible than in the rising obsession with Parisian brand Vetements.
Vetements has quickly become one of the most talked-about and polarizing names in modern fashion since its founding in 2014. Demna Gvasalia, the man behind the label, best captured the brand’s essence and motive in an interview with Business of Fashion. Speaking about his employment at Maison Margiela, Gvasalia said, “the pieces became kind of soulless…because they had to be made, but didn’t really have a reason to be.” Vetements allowed the designer an unprecedented amount of agency: “Our idea was to make things that we really felt confident about and wanted to see people wear.”
In achieving that goal, Vetements has turned the fashion industry on its head. One of the biggest stories of the past few years was the popularity of a confusingly simple Gvasalia-designed tee shirt featuring only the coloring and logo of German logistics company and shipping giant DHL. The shirt retailed for more than $300, even though similar shirts can be purchased from the actual company for less than a thirtieth of that price. Even more fascinating is the fact that the Vetements tees sold out.
Even though the brand has been around for an extremely short amount of time, it is regarded as one of the most groundbreaking fashion developments in recent memory. To honor that distinction, Vetements has teamed up with Style.com to re-release its debut collection from 2014. The collection features a distinct lack of branding that later seasons did away with but Gvasalia’s penchant for disrupting the industry is visible in the playful, yet dramatic silhouettes. The oversized hoodie, a medium that would be developed in following years, is present, as are extended-length sleeves on tops and tails on coats. There is a refreshing mix of fabrics and colors, multiple washes of denim working together with leather in classic black or eye-catching metallic hues. The most telling aspect of the rerelease, though, is how natural the model, Maud Escudie (who has posed for Vetements since the beginning) looks. These are garments that are not only distinct but profoundly wearable; they are clothes that the designer wants to design and that the consumer wants to wear.
That a company can make such a big splash in such a short time, becoming a universally recognized image in only two years, is telling about the shifting mind of the luxury fashion consumer. Just as designers are becoming fed up with creating the same things out of necessity, consumers are tired of boring options and no longer shop only for aesthetics or brand name. They are also concerned with novelty, and that might not be a bad thing.
Do you think the DHL shirt is a real comment on fashion or just a meaningless fad? Let’s chat here or on Twitter @BillChangNY