In a truly groundbreaking move, founders and brothers Demna (the designer) and Gurum (the businessman) Gvasalia, and the rest of the design collective that makes up the Paris-based brand, collaborated with a whopping 18 other brands to produce the collection.
Many of them, like Hanes, Champion and Levi’s, are about as far away from couture as you can get. Which is, of course, the whole point. According to Demna, who is also the creative director of Balenciaga, the idea was to go straight to the brands who have perfected each category; the first name you think of when you think of any given product. But according to Ned Munroe, Chief Global Design Officer of HanesBrands Inc (which also owns Champion), there’s a little more to the story.
So what does all this luxury attention do for the brands you normally find at K-Mart or Kohl’s?
It’s a power dynamic that a number of labels have played with recently by hijacking the logos of iconic brands and repurposing them: Palace’s tongue-in-cheek reappropriation of Panasonic. Jeremy Scott fracking McDonald’s for Moschino inspiration. Herron Preston’s logo-strewn Nascar tees. Gosha Rubchinskiy’s bootleg Tommy Hilfiger. OFF-WHITE’s “Blue Collar” collection, which added a dash of haute-couture to the uniforms of British mailmen and no doubt inspired Vetements’ now-ubiquitous DHL t-shirts.
But this isn’t a new trend: looking beyond runway fashion and away from recent seasons, logo jacking has been an often-used tactic in the arsenal of countless streetwear brands over the years. SSUR’s Commes de Garcons-ripping “Comme de Fuckdown” items, popularized by a nascent A$AP Rocky a few years ago. Obey’s Supreme-jacking box logo. Fuct aping the Ford badge. Cartier/Cuntier. Beyond simple trademarks, BAPE’s “Bapex” watches are no different to the Rolex knockoffs that you might get for suspiciously low prices from China-based eBay sellers.
According to Vetements co-founder Demna Gvasalia, the ethos of the brand was defiantly anti-high end, filled instead with the detritus of real life. He was quoted as saying: “I’m driven by making clothes both wearable and financially accessible – fashion that has a place in the real world.” The “real world” meaning not the fashion world.
Just as Adele used a flip phone in the video for Hello, these streetwear labels are sticking a middle finger up at fashion and harnessing the logos of these everyday objects to illustrate their own objectives. It’s about rejecting the idea that a fashion label gives you status and not letting the label wear you.