Vetements. The fashion brand that changed your life!
Nothing too much in fashion is life changing these days, aesthetically changing and challenging perhaps, but for fashion to change your life it takes a particular set of people, and a particular set of surrounding circumstances, for something to change the wider world of apparel.
For those who keep up to date with fashion or perhaps follow a celebrity model on Instagram, you might be aware of Parisian collective called Vetements. Oversized hoodies and strange slogans, yep, thats the one. Pithy digs at brands and outrageous prices, their name makes, and even though I slate the brand both privately and publicly I am sort of their biggest fan at the same time?
I admire that in a time where Kardashians fill social feeds and drive trend hungry teens to subscribe to a skimpier aesthetic, Vetements, every season, march their pale, weird looking pals down a catwalk in some pedestrian, un-facinating place, dressed in something a kin to a table cloth. That takes serious guts in fashion. To not only completely disregard traditional ways of showing fashion, but to subvert aesthetics to the point of changing them. Proof of this being that most shows come out with a hoodie these days. Did you notice that in the past two years, hoodies and slogans have been everywhere. These guys started that! Well not started, perhaps re-introduced. So I suppose they’re also to blame for the “I hate Mondays” T-shirts you find in Forever 21, as when high fashion concepts translate to regular fashion brands, its rarely a smooth transition.
So lets say Vetements exists out of the norm of fashion in the traditional sense, most, at a glance would dismiss the brand as weird. Weird clothes. Weird shows. The head designer of Vetements, Demna Gvasalia, is also the guy behind the latest Ikea trend and head designer at Balenciaga. He has been both praised and critized, for his unique approach to fashion. His collections are a sort of scramble of references to things that are recognisable but not necessarily relevant, like one of their most famous pieces, the £185 DHL (yeah, like the postal company) T-shirt. This piece blew up on Instagram, seen on bloggers and the ominous fash-pack alike. The allure of it being the fact, its sort of funny, but no one can work out who is the butt of the joke? The customer? DHL? The designer? This is where Vetements begins to enter murky waters. These kinds of throw away, apathetic pieces are littered amongst Vetements collections, and have become their hallmark, and its what is killing the industry.
Apathy has no place in art, particularly in these very Conservative times in which we live, and I think its dangerous for Vetements to flirt with the idea of making fun of their consumer with their clothes. Make fun of fashion all you want, with as many Ikea shopping bags and pithy hoodies you like, but this meme-esque way of design has a larger audience and for a brand to dismay that is disappointing, particularly as I feel the Fashion industry in general is looked down on for being materialistic and vapid, and making fun of the people who fund your creativity, and are the exact vehicle for your success promotes the wrong kind of attitude in an industry that already had so much going against it.
Which brings me to my final point on Vetements, when all said and done I do believe that the brand has changed so much in fashion, at a time when it was needed the most in an industry that was drowning in clothes but no new ideas. In a way I think the brand is the perfect allegory for the fashion industry. For all the editors that slammed the brand for its non-diverse casting, failed to realise that they operate within a highly racist industry, not to condone it, but Vetements mistakes turned the mirror on to all of the brands and editors and press who realised that they operate within an industry that is just as flawed, which is why I truly believe Vetements shook up a dying industry and awoke a sleeping press pack.