Vetements In or Out?
An article posted by Highsnobiety led Vetements designer Denma Gvasalia to respond angrily on Instagram defending the sales and credibility of his brand. The story, branded as wannabe journalism by Denma spoke to multiple anonymous sources questioning the current legitimacy of Vetements in today’s market. “If you compare the amount we’ve spent on the brand for SS18 and the recent FW18 season, we’ve decreased the order by around 70 percent,” said one source. “From a retail standpoint, Vetements is completely dead,”
Extraordinary claims by a former shop manager at a luxury retailer that still carries Vetements told Highsnobiety, “The prices get to the point where you can’t justify it anymore and without that hype from the beginning to get people excited.” Understandably, Denma responded irately by stating, “Fashion is not about hype”. With reworked vintage Levi’s jeans retailing for £1,165, Alpha Industries jackets, (which usually retail for under £200) is currently being sold for £1,160 and the DHL shirt that became the talking point of SS16, retailing for £200+. With prices like this, can Vetements, still a relatively new brand, debuting their first collection just four years ago, afford to continue without hype?
The irony of a brand like Vetements, who brand themselves as ‘anti fashion’, is seemingly targeting a generation who are trying to break from the traditional norms of fashion and use social media to do so. In fact, Vetements is one of few brands who understood internet culture from the get go and capitalised on irony and pop culture references, from the Titanic hoodie to the Champion style logo rip-off in-order to sell a lifestyle to the new non-conformist generation free from contemporary culture that brands themselves on social media. Perhaps in today’s digitally connected climate, brands owe a lot to the generation of today who market themselves on social media. Vetements business model, one which is of similar to hype brands currently on the market, helps obtain the scarce exclusivity and hype around the brand. Speaking with 1Granary, “For us, the important thing is that we don’t restock and once you come to the showroom, it’s the only chance you’re going to have to place the order. Once it’s sold out, it’s sold out”.
‘Hype beasts’ – a cultural phenomenon sweeping the social media airwaves, with a following of hundreds of thousands and even into the millions of followers, take to Instagram to pose in the latest and most exclusive to obtain clothing and shoes. The culture of hype beasts (give or take when the name started), has been around long before the age of social media. Until the recent significance in high fashion, streetwear had a niche appeal. If you wanted to know what the latest trends and brands everyone was wearing are you paid attention to Los Angeles street/surf culture or the hip-hop streets of New York. But ‘drop days’ and limited edition runs – previously a business model feature synonymous with luxury brands, has created an entire hype subculture constructed around obtaining the latest brands and advertising themselves online.
Regardless of their social media presence, Vetements has constantly found a way to generate buzz since its arrival. If Vetements prides itself on being different and going against the grain of the fashion industry, it has certainly shown that in recent times. Their decision to become a no-show at SS18 fashion week, before their return in AW18 menswear led everyone to wonder if it would be Denma who would lead a revolt against the traditional fashion system. In recent years niche brands have continued to cement their place at the top of the industry and found themselves in a lucrative business of collaborations. While many have questioned the legitimacy of this, it seems high fashion brands have discovered a profitable approach to the recent changes in modern fashion and have found a valuable way to target the millennial and gen z market. The Supreme x LV collaboration helped contribute to a record net growth for LVHM, earning a hefty $23 billion USD, a 23% increase profit. Vetements has no doubt had a similar effect on the industry, collaborating with 17 other labels including, Levi’s, Eastpak, Dr. Martens, Juicy Couture, Manolo Blahnik and Comme des Garçons.
Whether Denma believes in industry hype or not, there seems to be no immediate danger of Vetements slowing down any time soon. The relatively new brand is still providing ways to make a statement at every opportunity.