A pair of deconstructed jeans, a DHL t-shirt, a hoodie with the definition of a hoodie on it, and a security jacket that isn’t really a security jacket–revolutionary right?
Vetements arrived to Paris Fashion Week in 2014, swept it off its feet, and has continued to hold the fashion world in its trance ever since. To give some background on the brand, it’s a French brand launched by Georgian-born designer, Demna Gvasalia. Gvasalia grew up in the USSR, closed off from much of the outside world, and later moved to Germany where he studied at the the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts and drew inspiration from designers such as Margiela and Dries Van Noten. In Germany, Gvasalia experienced everything that he hadn’t in Georgia–an eclectic world of goth, hip hop, rave, and classical culture. Moving to Paris later on, Gvasalia decided to take part in the youth revolution there–something that has now contributed to Paris’s vibrant scene, far away from the conservative feel it had several years back. Vetements initially started as a leisurely activity for Gvasalia and his friends; Gvasalia spent twenty minutes on one garment of clothing at a time–the idea either worked or didn’t. But after several showrooms, the brand took off. He teamed up with his brother, Guram, who headed the commercial aspect and started to envision the foundations of his brand. Gvasalia sought to make clothes that he liked–that latched on to his creative ideas, but were wearable by “normal” people. Gvasalia says that what the fashion world was missing was the link between creative and commercial. In an interview he remarked, “A garment is a product. It’s not made to be in a museum.” And that’s exactly what many of the collections in Paris Fashion Week were lacking in 2014. Demna’s brother Guram wanted Vetements to redefine the idea of a luxury brand. He believed that the fault of many brands was their overproduction, decreasing their value of luxury. By keeping supply levels low, and prices high, Vetements retains its desirability, and thus becomes a new kind of modern luxury, different from the “luxury” offered by Chanel or Louis Vuitton.
But what exactly makes people flock to showrooms to buy deconstructed jeans at $1400, or a simple sweatshirt for $500? Business of Fashion writer Eugene Rabkin points to the rise of the fashion hipster that desires to be part of the in-the-know club–where select people know exactly where your DHL t-shirt came from and exactly how much it cost. Isn’t that special in-the-know attitude analogous to the rise of Hood by Air, Comme des Garçons, and Public School a couple years back? Others point to the attractiveness of the Post-Soviet vibes–the underground sex clubs and the sketchy Chinese restaurants. It’s the appeal of a new, avant-garde, yet simple look for fashion–far away from the clean-cut, formal looks of, let’s say, Céline in 2007. Vetements offered a fresh, street-style look, something that many people desired.
So the questions arises: Is Vetements revolutionary? Or did Gvasalia just latch on to the general feel (or frustration) in the fashion industry and use it to his advantage? The answers are mixed. Some argue that Vetements blurs the line between common fashion, for example the lower-middle class DHL employee, and the fashion hipster wearing the same t-shirt. While others solute it for its gender flexibility and its integration of pop culture. Others argue that its just another trend that will come and go, following the vicious cycle that is the fashion world. The answer to my question is subject to everyone’s own opinion. There is no set conclusion that can be made–not by me, not by Anna Wintour, and not even by Gvasalia. But whether it’s a revolutionary brand, or simply just a new trend, Vetements did create a ripple–one that was arguably needed in Paris Fashion Week.
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