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Confession: I Don’t Get Vetements

Do you?

03.30.16

My friend, an unaffiliated-to-fashion but in-the-know fan of clothing, overheard me talking about Vetements with a fashion editor last weekend, so she asked, “What’s Vetements?”

I explained that it was a recent fashion phenomenon, a new design collective that has stopped the industry short, become its new darling and turned on its head all the basic principles that fashion has set for itself as a commander of taste. It functions as a deeply reactive entity that rejects the ateliers of Paris with their fanciful ideas of what women should look like and responds instead to what a new generation of women already do look like. (Also, they sell DHL t-shirts for $330; you can request one from the de facto delivery service for $14.99.)

It’s fantasy versus reality — kind of like comparing the show Sex and the City to Girls wherein Vetements is Girls: rooted in what’s real and true, whether good or bad, and not interested in the Galliano-esque suspension of disbelief and reverie of fiction.

This isn’t actually problematic until you consider the implications of the house’s designer, Demna Gvasalia, accepting a position as the creative director of at one of the aforementioned ateliers, Balenciaga.

Reviewers for some venerated publications — Vogue, The TimesWashington Post — have declared Vetements the house to breathe new life into fashion. It’s the industry’s pièce de résistance. But it’s not just a press toy. Luxury vendors who stock the collection — Net-A-Porter, Browns Fashion, Matches and so forth — indicate that it sells very, very well. Go ahead right now; try to order a pair of shoes.

But here’s the thing: I don’t get the fanfare. You want to lose your shit over clothes that make you feel like 18th century royalty while you’re washing the dishes in real life, I totally get that. But to wear clothes that make you feel like you’re about to wash dishes? Where’s the grand illusion there?

The clothes are not very practical, either, which is perhaps the cerebrally-perverse point of a collection that is responding to real life instead of creating its own world, but given how expensive they are (reconstructed Levi’s jeans range from $1,040 to $1,500), who are the people who are buying in? Am I missing something?

I do understand what the house is trying to do, and don’t doubt the talent — Gvasalia spent time at Margiela in the earlier aughts and those were glory days. Today, the deconstructed, reconstructed metaphor for an industry that is fledgling but trying to hold it together does not get lost on me. The reactive nature of the house and subsequent embracement by industry heavyweights is a sharp, promising turn in the direction of a more democratic fashion industry. Here, here to all that.

But when you think of what we’re called by the naysayers — a manipulative beast that makes you feel less-than so that you’ll buy and become more-than — does Vetements support or counter that clause?

Among shoppers, there have always been those who buy clothes (think Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, the good quality stuff that hugs you) and those who buy energy (Saint Laurent is commodified “cool,” ditto that for Alexander Wang; Phoebe Philo sells you simplicity, a lack of complication but a healthy serving of complexity).

Those who make energy command insider respect, which trickles down to consumer curiosity and ultimately, consumption. This is the process that renders a price tag irrelevant, which is what makes a $750 Vetements sweatshirt, or $330 t-shirt “worth” the splurge. Those things aren’t just expensive activewear — they’re an excuse. A found form of validation. You want to wear a sweatshirt to fashion week because it’s cold? By all means! Now you can!

Only you never actually couldn’t. 

This lack of confidence in our ability to think for ourselves seems like the larger problem, a sort of precursor to validation. What does it say if we need a hefty price tag to justify the acquisition of a garment? Does it mean that we still need someone to tell us what we should look like? Or simply speaking, are we back at the top where I just don’t get it? No one said you have to understand fashion to like it. I suppose that’s true of the reverse, too.

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  • yulia

    what’s not to get…totally manrepelling clothes. I thought you’d be on board with that.

    • Yna

      The point is it’s too ordinary to come with that hefty price tag. When did we ever need to shell out $300 to look like a delivery man? Same with Kanye’s tattered sweater which doesn’t make sense either.

      • yulia

        the jeans are extraordinary, construction, fit, craftsmanship. dhl shirt is ordinary. sweatshirts, the ones i saw, are special. dresses are superb. sweatpants tongue-in-cheek. Off course funny. Comme des Garcons conceptualiziation comes to mind too. I have an intentionally wrinkled blue, polyester, skirt from CDG, seasons back, it has an elastic waist. Totally NY public school middle school uniform quality, and not a better craftsmanship to boot. But my main point is that besides the very sexy jeans, the line is very manrepelling, no??? I thought this was the vertebrae of this blog.

        • June

          Vetements is not man-repelling. It’s actually very “meh” to even repel any man to begin with.

          • Catherine Gans

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        • Sammy Reony

          Are you kidding? Jeans that are extraordinary? I have a pair of J Brand jeans that are extraordinary and they cost me 1/12 (on sale) than the overpriced crap Vetements is. DHL shirt for $330? A cotton Champions-like sweater for $750? I love how people are trying to convince themselves this is a great brand. It’s like a lot of other houses all marketing and hype, and people like you are dumb enough to buy into it.

      • The clothes are not very practical, either, which is perhaps the cerebrally-perverse point of a collection that is responding to real life instead of creating its own world, but given how expensive they are (reconstructed Levi’s jeans range from $1,040 to $1,500), who are the people who are buying in? Am I missing something?

  • Kelsey D

    This explains everything going on in my head so perfectly. I was going to try to write a post about Vetements to explain to myself, but now, poof, here it is.

  • I think Vetements is a satire, a “jokes on you” brand. In my opinion, it’s mocking the fashion world, because they go and buy $300 DHL shirt. And if it’s not a satire, then it’s definitely an insult to society. The fact that they are sold out all the time says a lot about our society, as you said, and the need for validation. Everyone just needs to create a phenomenon around something.

    • Senka

      ditto!

    • Kristin Winters

      I can definitely see what you are saying, but what does that mean for Dior? To me, Dior is not a “joke’s on you” house. Is Demna Gvasalia going to bring that to Dior? I am holding out hope that he has something else in store for us!

      • Sammy Reony

        Balenciaga is a joke. Have you seen the crap they sell that end up on sale? Gucci, Lanvin, Givenchy, Balmain, the list goes on and on. It’s not couture. Couture died years ago.

    • Smilla

      Have you actually tried on the clothes? The dresses are beyond beautiful, very sexy housewife in loose clothing. Wore one in very conservative society where I live, and to say it was showstopping was an understatement. Sexy Victoriana. What I don’t understand is how ridiculous Rosie Assouline has become and why you continue to promote her clothing. The dhl tshirt is very tongue in cheek and very diff from ghe 14.50 ones from dhl. The fit and styling is quite different. It’s pretty much the same playful aesthetic that drives Jeremy Scott or Anya hindmarch- even Charlotte Olympia where they take everyday almost iconic objects and make them fashionable and are lauded for it. It’s the same way we buy deliberately torn ‘distressed ‘ jeans for lots of money instead of buying brand new perfect jeans and waiting for the knees to wear out. Yes it’s all abit emperors new clothesey but that’s what makes fashion fun. See how everyone is copying Marques Almeidas frayed hems and charging a gazillion times more because they are more established. I get that you don’t get it. That’s allowed. But I think you are letting some brands get away with it but unfairly picking on vêtements.

      • James

        I agree with this. I’ve tried on some Vetements pieces and no one can say the construction is ordinary, and it’s really only an extreme example of things that are already going on in the fashion world. I appreciate that Vetements is more concerned with making items that people actually want to wear (and are clearly buying) than a gown that will only appear in editorials.

      • Peasl

        I couldn’t agree more

      • YoBabyWazUp?

        I made some DIY Vetement jeans. Not that hard to make. I did laugh to myself “ah hah! I got them and they make my ass look great!” Plus I saved $1140.00. Now for the joke part. I think it is sort of an inside joke. It may be a personalized collection of what a group of friends wore in the 90s”inspired by maybe some russian shiz. I read about how levis were super coveted in russia (were Demna is from). All I know is $1200 for a pair of jeans is grand larceny.

        • Olha

          How come Demna is from Russia? Are you for real? He is from Georgia

        • Mary Yasmine Arrouche

          I think you are mistaking Demna Gvsalia and Lotta Volkova.

  • Alex Poirier

    Don’t worry, Vetememes will save the day with identical garments for 5% of the Vetements price, haha. Fashion Law has a hilarious article on the possibility of a lawsuit:

    http://www.thefashionlaw.com/home/that-vetememes-parody-raincoat-might-actually-be-illegal

    It all seems like a massive joke within industry outsiders? Vetements almost seemed like they were trolling the industry and now they are being trolled.

    Pretty sure Gsavalia has come out and said their is no artistic meaning behind any of it, so I don’t think there is anything “to get”.

  • Audiosurfer

    Just read a different Vetements article and was thinking the same thing. Didn’t think about it for long, though, since I could never buy Vetements anyways. Almost bought a Vetememes raincoat though. Then I asked myself if I’d want that once the hype around Vetements died down (or even a week after my purchase) which was enough to change my mind. But yeah, quality article.

  • Salt

    it seems more like “clothing with a conceptual-art lens” or performance to me than FA FA FASHION.

  • While I am not in the position to tell to those richer than me who see no problem in buying a DHL tee for 330 $ they shouldn’t (and wouldn’t strip my delivery guy for you in RL) , there is an aspect about it all that bothers me a lot:
    I quite appreciate deconstructed pieces of clothing, I even owe a/the Maison Margiela for H&M skirt and I love putting things together by myself. This love consists of some vanity (“look what I can do”), but most of it, I guess up to 80%, is love for doing things and seeing them come to life. Solutions, principles, physics, maths, design, new sights and ideas … I love that.
    Unfortunately, I cannot afford to wear my babies in most places … while I will surely get applauded for my MM for H&M skirt should I happen to wear it in a larger city, my own designs will probably get frowned upon, event the good ones, where everything happened due to deliberation and with purpose, not by mistake. At least they will if I confess I made them myself. At least in most of the places I happen to be or pass, I know there are other places, too, I am asking rather generally.

    So if creativity is so very in, why do I get to reap so much power for buying it (M&M for H&M) but lose power for creating it, in the eyes of the beholders?
    I know sewing your own clothes used to signify poverty (if it wasn’t your profession), but this is the 21. century and we all know we can afford (slaves to toil for our) miriads of clothes, surely shopping for clothes is not a sign of wealth and status anymore, speaking generally, not in terms of haute couture?

    • Hanne

      agree, good point. buying a ripped skirt is “cool”, making one oneself is “weird/crafty/lame/poor”. it’s both an intentionally ripped skirt, one made after someone else’s creativity, one after one’s own… and that while in our society right now individuality and creativity is so hyped!

      why is that? making vs. buying?

      (i personally actually don’t like most self-made stuff, and looking like a handicrafts project, and i enjoy busing an arty piece after a genius’ vision. still i ask myself why…)

      • Some time ago I saw they sell ripped tights/pantyhose now … 🙂

        (it might be a kind of revenge that i have never worn distressed jeans in my life, one way or another)

        • Hanne

          exactly! ripped tights are seen as sloppy, unless you pay money exactly for that feature?

          same with chipped nails… sloppy if you just have it organically, “cool” if you have it manicurally made.

    • Katya

      I feel this too, although I’ve been sewing since I was a kid and many of my pieces didn’t fit into what was happening in either mass market or high fashion at the time. Sometimes I that was well received and other times not. That said, both my partner and I often get positive comments on our work (especially when they find out that we make it ourselves and we both have sold pieces.) It’s interesting that it sounds like people are reacting negatively to the homemade deconstruction especially? More than other styles?

  • Senka

    Love, love, love this article!! Leandra put the feeling I have about Vetements into words so perfectly. I don’t get it. Fashion is and always was a bit of a dream. No harm in it being beautiful, interesting, exquisite. Even in the rule of minimalism, the perfect craft and brilliant idea of Margiela, or impecably executed Celine can’t be replaced by anything else. I think that the Vetements phenomenon, could be “emperors new clothes” of today, trying to make people realize something by pricing it very high, and watching calmly as fashion people play along, en masse.

  • Chloe

    Just on a basic level there is nothing aesthetically pleasing about Vetements to me, personally. I didnt enjoy looking at any of these pics.

  • Kelly Spicer

    What a relief to have someone agree with me about this. I’ve been reading article after article praising the brand, but I just can’t get behind it. Gvasalia is making a statement akin to Marcel Duchamp presenting a toilet as art or Richard Prince putting other people’s instagrams on canvas and selling them for thousands of dollars- a premise that has been addressed so many times that it has lost its boldness.

    • Louise

      Marcel Duchamp did not create ‘The Fountain’ He stole the credit for it from Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven who was the original creator.

  • shelly45840

    This reminds me of the nonsense that Kanye does, but with logos….

  • I happy to learn about them. This more proof that provided he has a good business partner Kanye is going to do just fine. This, as silly as it sounds, is a way that we are going. Anti everything is kind of the name of the game. I can’t wait till the pendulum swings back to opulence.

  • Sabrina O’Driscoll

    No I don’t. It’s demented!

  • Julie Meowmeows

    Isn’t it kind of the final evolution of normcore (Pokemon reference here)? Perhaps. At least it’s stirring up conversation, that’s always a good thing in the fashion world.

  • This reminds me of that Balmain collection from the late 2000s that had all the ripped t-shirts and sweaters. I thought it was a cool collection (more for the leather pants and jackets), but I remember talking about it with a friend and she couldn’t comprehend buying a t-shirt with holes in it for hundreds of dollars.
    Whatever, if people want and have $300 to blow on a DHL t-shirt then so be it. I’d rather get the $14.99 factory direct version.

  • To me, the Vetements craze is similar to what happens in the fairytale “The Emperors New Clothes”. They make pieces everyone can relate to (and probably already owns) – hoodies, t-shirts, jeans – but sell them at incredibly high prices which creates the illusion of exclusivity. Plus, they have this we-don’t-care-attitude that seems to be sexy. It’s a winning combination/business strategy: it makes people think they’re missing out on something if they don’t buy Vetements. What they don’t realize is that having to pay $330 for a yellow DHL t-shirt is actually some kind of fraud. I tried on the green ruffle dress from their Spring collection. It’s made of 100% scratchy polyester and costs $1762. I looked like I was wearing a Kermit costume. I don’t get who buys this shit voluntarily. I recently interviewed Demna Gvasalia for a German magazine, and he told me he wanted to make real clothes that people actually want to buy. But in fact, he’s doing real, normal clothes that unfortunately none can afford. Plus, real clothes are not fashion. At least in that point Demna was honest, he told me: “I’m not a fashion designer, I’m a dressmaker.” So at least I got that.

    • Natty

      Emperor’s New Clothes is the perfect analogy

    • Natalie

      …and for Germans there´s seriously no point in buying a green “Polizei”-jacket. What am I supposed to do with that? I can´t even wear that for carnival. Guess that´s how the French feel about all the shirts etc. with french words imprinted. Ich liebe deinen Blog btw!

    • snakehissken

      This is a lot of what I wanted to say. It actually reminds me a lot of that high school mentality, when people wore ordinary things labeled with Abercrombie or Esprit or Benetton to show that they were “in the know.” Even now, it feels like it’s cool to wear things like sneakers, but only when they’re the right sneakers like Stan Smiths. It does feel like a way to maintain exclusivity while claiming that it’s more of a democratic approach to fashion where the needs of “real people” are taken into account – except apparently real people budgets.

      • ahnah

        I feel is such a commodification of the working class, like we are all cool like poor people but we are not actually poor people, they have to take that and make a 600 dollars sweater so people can identify them as rich and make a point about social hierarchy. And the poor people can’t even look like normal/poor ’cause it seems like they are trying to copy the rich people that make “cool” sweats, when they had been wearing that all along, you know.

        • Brenda Equihua

          Yes, totally agree!

      • M.A

        Amin to that. I don’t think we all need to understand. It’s a form of expression, it speaks to some….but there has to be a sense of ridicule and I find it ridiculous to buy something ordinary at such high prices, such a waste given the amount of ordinary clothes that we throw away. Just sayin’.

  • Exactly! Who’s the fool here…I’ve been thinking the same ever since I saw Selena Gomez photographed in their red sweatsuit. Wonder if she was gifted them by their PR as part of the marketing campaign to claim their coolness. It’s so far beyond what clothing costs to make, market and have a profit. I might feel differently if there is a story that their seamstresses, fabric makers are being paid 10x industry average and that they are helping build a school in India where the cotton is farmed.

    It seems so arbitrary on how they did their pricing, and frankly their designs aren’t that original. Ok, mabye their sock-ankle boots are unlike anything else…but I’ll take Valentino rockstuds any day over those…

    • Nicole

      bruh ! “Valentino rockstuds any day over those…” you ain’t got no style -.- no offence but those are like so last last last last last last last seasons ago.

  • Natty

    it’s very Dada. Akin to Marcel Duchamp putting a urinal in a museum and calling it art.

    What IS art? What IS fashion? These are the questions at hand. And kudos to the Vetements crew for raising such considerations.

  • fanny

    THANK YOU!!

  • Tess

    Well said. On a different note, what artists created the prints (a series of storefronts. It came on @ 8:58) on the wall of MRHQ as seen on the British Vogue video?

    • QM

      Knowlita

  • Jackie Kong

    Leandra, this was an extremely thoughtful and IMPORTANT article to publish. I feel like Vetements is the top example of contradiction in the fashion world – trying to step away from the “pretentiousness” of the ateliers yet maintaining the position that their fashion is NOT for any consumer, only those who will dish out the $$$$. Seems dishonest to their ethos.

    Do you feel like in the fashion world today, there isn’t enough criticism? (I feel like this article is beginning to address the contradictions of the fashion world, which is completely necessary). I would love to see Man Repeller addressing this in some way.

    • Hasti Haghighi

      Yes but how would they make a statement if they sold their garments at high street prices?

  • Cinamaron

    I appreciate the deconstructionist way of looking at fashion that Vetements seems to be about, but it seems strange to me that these are actual clothes versus art, if that makes sense? I believe that wearable clothing can be art for sure, and that a lot if artistry goes into fashion but it seems weird to me that Vetements is producing clothes for consumption given the apparent theme of their work. Or is the fact that people are willing to buy it part of the art?

    Those pants within a pant are hilarious though tbh.

    • Hahaha, I am really into the pants on pants

  • This is like when Carl Andre went to the hardware store, bought a bunch of red clay bricks, and arranged them on the floor somewhere and was like ‘pay me, because I’m the one who thought to put a square of bricks on the floor and call it sculpture’

    I can get behind it on a conceptual level, but I’m still not gonna buy it, because at the end of the day, if I really want to reject the grand ateliers, I’m gonna fudge my own.

    • ACTUALLY WAIT HOLD ON it’s also like Andy Warhol and Damien Hirst who literally employ(ed) a factory’s worth of people to produce “authentic” pieces in series that they just sign(ed) off on.

      Sorry apparently art history is the only lens I can relate to this through!

      I need to go re-read Benjamin after this.

  • Such a great piece of writing. Especially like the last paragraph – how true. I am not on board – it seems like the whole emperor’s new clothes situation. No one knows you are being fooled.

    http://www.fashionandfrappes.com

  • Tae

    Confession: Leandra is intimidated by clothing that doesn’t fit into her boring idea of ‘chic’

    • Atia Karkaroff-A

      I think you are making a simplistic reduction. Leandra made a good job of explaining her point of vue, which I mostly share. I would go as far as saying I find Vetements boring in that take something that exists, brand it Vetements and sell it for hundreds way.

  • dk

    I don’t get them as well. The clothes are mostly unappealing to me, with little to no fit, and they are certainly not what I buy. But fashion and the new hot shit are subjective. For me, I love the Galliano-drama; I look at the new de la Renta’s collection and though it is very pretty, it is also not as theatrical. My first memories from american television were once we got cable and I used to watch Fashion TV 24/7. It was the 90s, the clothes were screaming “drama baby”. I’m still haunted by one Armani suit from maybe early 00s (?). I get that with the whole normcore concept, real luxury becomes very subtle, less logo-centric. But some new designers, I just don’t get. Vetements seems to me like an insider joke. Craftsmen laughing at people, willing to buy everything that has walked NYFW.

  • Shannon

    Leandra, saw the title and immediately clicked because I have been trying to figure out this Vetements thing for a while myself. I’m here for the jeans and the oversized high low, long sleeve hoodies. I agree it basically feels like a $700 hoodie is admission to a secret club where if you know you know and if you know you might get it but even if you don’t its still a look.The wild markup on the DHL tees and Champion sweatshirts feels like it should be broken down on Freakenomics episode where they analyze the value and currency we place on things.

  • coconut

    No offense but vetements is honestly a bunch of white gentrifiers and racists like when will the fashion press stop eating their ass? It’s disgusting that they’re so noninclusive that they dont cast any people of color in their shows and justify it as “diluting and weakening their collections” by “conforming to an outdated concept of correctness”. “modern creatives” and “a new wave of designers”, huh? And they need to stop pretending they invented the hoodie too as a “political statement” when the people that originally made the hoodie into a political statement were marginalized young black men protesting racism and police brutality. their stuff is also ridiculously priced considering they sell $1000 levi jeans and helmut lang dupes. Lmao bye

    • Scott Gibson

      HANDS UP DONT SHOOT

  • zellamaybe

    What I don’t get is how a brand with such strong roots in urban street style feels like they don’t need to cast any models of color in their shows.

    • coconut

      exactly @zellamaybe:disqus !! it’s honestly disgusting that they justify not casting any models of color because it apparently compromises their aesthetic, “diluting their collections”. they don’t want to “conform” to society’s call for correctness.

      • zellamaybe

        That is such a ridiculous (and frankly, pretty racist) thing to say. It reminds me of something Amandla Stenberg said – what if America (or in this case, I guess, France) loved black people the way they love black culture?

  • Marisa

    I made a beeline for the Pompidou on my obligatory trip to Paris in 1993. I walked into a stark white cubicle with an aging thick rope suspended in the corner of the room. My scientific friend called the art exhibit “trash”. I called it “genius”. Conceptual art–spurred on by Duchamp–became a bona fide movement in the 1960s. The first of its kind, I thought to myself, “why couldn’t I think of shit like this?!”

    Since manrepeller is more of an attitude (and subjective and relative to how one is feeling), just simply wearing something that is uncharacteristically and awkwardly stylish does not automatically deem it worthy of manrepelling (can I turn it into a verb?) I get Vetements as a socio-political statement on our society, but I don’t “get” Vetements as a style choice. If we are calling fashion “art”, then it’s open to hardcore scrutiny (perception, judgment, interpretation–the whole nine yards). Wear it! Don’t wear it! I’ve lived my life thus far styling my wardrobe to poke fun at mainstream style, so Vetements would be right up my alley. But it’s not. I think it’s trying too hard to be “cool” for me, personally (sorry Vogue, but breathe new life into the industry…puh-lease…). I get the gag. I just don’t get why anyone would want to wear something that is so obvious that it “hurts”. Every generation has it’s anarchist movement. It’s inevitable with human nature. I barely made it through the disco era. Too much polyester and sequins for me, so I dove head first into “punk rock” (Thank you, Vivienne). Just as Duchamp and Warhol gave the art industry the proverbial middle finger with the urinal and Campbell Soup concoctions, fashion will always follow suit. The twain shall always meet. If this is what Vetements is doing, I applaud them. There will always be people who “get” them. Just like the rope hanging in the Pompidou, “why can’t I think of shit like this?!”

    • June

      Right on point!

    • There’s a tee with the inscription POZILEI instead of POLIZEI (Vetements) and is otherwise of a police-typical color. Anytime I see it my reaction is “I should have been the one who thought of this!” because I like it so much. So yes.

      • Marisa

        I know, right??!!!

    • Meg

      Vetements feels very “punk!!!!!!” to me in I have a trust fund and destroy things that lower class workers have to clean up kind of way. The socio-political “statement” doesn’t adhere to the practice.

      • Marisa

        Punk was a reactionary movement directed at the “peace and love” culture of the mid 70s (like I said, I took a much needed break from sequins and satin). Jon Savage (famed Sex Pistols historian) called it a “bricolage of every previous youth culture in the western world since WWII stuck together with safety pins” (brilliant!). Having lived a formative portion of my pubescent years steeped in this anti-establishment movement (much to my mom’s horror–she charged me rent for my blue Mohawk), I hesitate to agree with you that Vetements is punk. The ideology is, perhaps, partially there: piss-off the established few (check, although they get the gag); take direct and immediate action upon society (sort of check); submit to non-conformist style (sorry, no check: it’s not DIY in someone’s garage); and never sell out (sorry, no check: they’re selling to the masses in luxe boutiques). So the jury has deliberated: punk, they are not! Just like I can’t hang a rope from a stark white room and say, HEY, this is conceptual art. It’s already been done. The movement has passed. So Vetements cannot be punk. They need to be something else. Can we name a new movement with this? SoPo faux expressionism (aka: Socio-Political faux expressionism)….

        • Meg

          I’m not trying to brawl with you or anything, but if you read my comment past “punk!!!!” I think you’d see that it was a very tongue in cheek assessment of the label. The style without the substance.

          • Marisa

            Ha! I misread your statement as “you–yourself” had a trust fund! Sorry! Funny! I was wondering…my apologies!

          • Meg

            NBD. And exactly that! Punk to piss off mom & dad (with their money.)

  • Jess

    Excellent piece.

  • Thank you for this post, really open my eyes! And the comments too

    • Andres Poiche

      Very good, I want a Ventements Shirt :p

  • Jayne

    I love Vetements jeans and dream of owning a pair but I do not understand the whole sweatshirt appeal, it is just all too ordinary for such an extortionate price. x

    electraviolet.co.uk

    • Lisa Marie

      The oversized hoodies with font in the sleeves are such an eyesore. Even streetwear brands like Supreme wouldn’t go this far.

  • starryhye

    Totally the Emperor’s New Clothes, or Zoolander and Mugatu’s “Derelicte” campaign.

  • Ottavia Pesce

    Finally someone who thinks the same about those ridiculous DHL tshirts. And not only are Vetements clothes not comfy or too expensive..they are actually ugly. I have not seen one single item I would buy!

  • Lee

    I get how you could call it dada-esque or whatever.. But my big feeling towards it (beyond oh my gOD now those bloody Snapchats make sense because I could never pick up the dialogue) is vaguely offended?? Like the idea of someone dumping $300 on a DHL Vetements shirt when a DHL worker is like, scraping $300 for food and life really irks me. It gives me bad classist vibes.

    • Meg

      That or someone being ridiculed for an analogous $3 thrift store tee because that’s utilitarian/practical and therefore ‘not fashion.’

  • Charlotte Dallin

    Whenever I try and get my head around how fashion seems to ‘work’, I always arrive at this Mean Girls quote.

  • Aggie

    I am so glad somebody finally spoke up about this brand. I loved all of your snaps asking whether those delivery guys were wearing Vetements, I find it very sad that it is selling so fast though. Then again, people who can afford ‘high’ fashion in general would never question a pricetag because they don’t have to. I am surprised that no one pointed out that the word ‘vetements’ actually means ‘clothes’ in French, sounds to me like a real satire of the fashion industry.

  • Caro

    This interview with BOF enlightened me a lot: http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/intelligence/demna-gvasalia-reveals-vetements-plan-to-disrupt-the-fashion-system
    And I feel that he is in fact dressing women the way he feels they should look. In the interview he shared, “It was not supposed to be a concept or a statement, but really to make clothes, not for ourselves but for girls that we projected on that we liked, and for our friends.”
    To me, he reminds me of the too-cool-for-school kid in my art classes, the one who poo-poo’s a lot of mainstream stuff and loves their own work…and their stuff is good, not necessarily genius…but it’s their process and thoughts and ideas that are the really good part. That being said, his work is incredibly intriguing because of how…normal and WTF it is. I want to understand what it feels like I’m missing. Which I found bits of in the above article.
    I’m an apparel design student and when I see his stuff I think, “hmm, that’s his iteration, those are his ideas come to life…I’m going to continue to do me.”

  • Luisa Black

    Who’s buying in? People who are tired of all the princess bullshit coming from the luxury runway. It’s a glorious fuck you to an industry that keeps advancing a tired promise of escape–at prices that are just as prohibitive as the Vetements tickets, btw. Also from a pure design perspective the sweatshirt construction is magical. Try it before you knock it. I’m in.

  • dc

    reappropriating, repurposing, redo….its what the “kids” do and have been doing thats why vetements did it…the design collective is one of ‘us” doing what we all do money or no money. its no big deal and by the way something Rihanna looks normal wearing no science just art/fashion of today….people like it cuz they sort of get it…celine not easily gettable. im for vetements its cool and fits into my wardrobe and im sure yours too.

  • Heygirl6

    Thank you Leandra for this post… ever since I became aware of this brand I DID NOT GET IT. The style of their clothing is alright if that’s the look you happen to be in to but what’s the overwhelming popularity about?? Their logo looks just like Champion’s the only change is the C is turned upside down to look like a V. Whut? This is cool? I remember when I used to buy Champion sweatshirts and tees in the 90’s from good ol Sports Authority for like $20 or under. LOL. The fashion industry is totally overreaching with this one, for sure. Sigh.

  • chouette

    I keep going back and forth. It hits a lot of the notes I love in fashion and clothes in general: uniform dressing, reconstruction, oversized, tailoring… I was really impressed when I first tried on the trench with the shoulders that are tailored to slouch to the back. Until then I figured it was styled that way, so the tailoring really impressed me. That was about where it stopped, though, a lot of the garments don’t have the finishing or quality to justify the prices. Not to mention, after the all-white cast for the last runway show, it’s starting to feel very exclusionary. A lot of it won’t fit or won’t have the same louche proportions on anyone without a model build, and Demna could care less since you’re not part of his young, cool clique anyway. I just wonder how he can grow it up to sell to people who actually can regularly drop four figures on a statement garment. I don’t see the die-hard older Comme and Margiela fans that are always at Dover, OC, etc, lining up to buy $300 DHL tees and $1000 Titanic hoodies. Maybe he should shift the focus on his past at Margiela to building his quality standards up to their impeccable ones.

  • Max

    BRAVO!!

  • In another article you called this an “emperor’s new clothes” situation – some other commenters below saying this, too. Trouble with this analogy is that the emperor was *actually* not wearing any clothes, whereas here it’s not you calling out something that’s a plain objective fact, it’s you bringing in your opinion on something subjective.

    I think that saying things like “This lack of confidence in our ability to think for ourselves seems like the larger problem” when you’re saying that you disagree with a lot of other people is incredibly presumptuous – like everyone who is into Vetements is “not thinking for themselves”.

    Other thing: how is the ludicrous pricing of Vetements actually any different than the ludicrous pricing of most designer clothes?

    At any rate, there are some real problems worth hashing out with Vetements that are not even about the clothes:
    http://www.businessoffashion.com/articles/opinion/op-ed-whites-only-policy-at-vetements-and-balenciaga

  • ashleymaciejewski
  • Sacha D

    Honestly, I like the shape they have in some of their clothing. I’m at a point in my style evolution where I want to wear a hoodie with sleeves that are twice as long as my arms.. But I’m not paying 1000 euros for that.
    It’s like my boyfriend says, it’s a hypebeast thing. Just like Gosha Rubchinskiy was and so many other brands will follow.

    If I was a designer at Vetements, I would be pretty scared. You don’t want your brand to hype like this because the stronger the hype, the bigger the crash afterwards (in my opinion).

    However, if I ever find that sweater with the long-ass sleeves on sale at -70% I’m definitely copping it.

  • Ashley

    But no one was saying anything when Jeremy Scott came out with his Mcdonalds/ Sponge Bob collection? Not to mention his Windex bottle perfume?

  • gursky

    thank you for this: “No one said you have to understand fashion to like it. I suppose that’s true of the reverse, too.”

    LOL …………. S2 S2 S2

  • Haider Aide

    great article! But did he really spend time at Margiela when Margiela was actually there? I have read in several places it was after Margiela had left himself. I just don’t get the comparisons to Margiela back in the day.

  • Emily Van Ryn

    I agree with you 100%. I’m getting tired of seeing brands sell ratty shirts for hundreds of dollars just because they got one on a runway. I think its insulting to the brands that put real time, effort, and craftsmanship into their pieces.

    However, I agree with some of the other commenters that maybe it is a sort of ‘fuck you’ to the fashion industry, an ironic brand whose aim in it’s absurdity is to point out the very absurdity that runs deeply through other brands.

    Either way, I will not be shelling off thousands of dollars for old jeans and sweatshirts.

  • Ali Peat

    Perfectly critiqued! I am a bit perplexed by the Vetements phenomenon too?!? How ironic would it be if your expensive DHL Vetements t-shirt was delivered in a slightly grubby DHL shipping box (as it usually is by the time your package arrives on your doorstep). I would rather cling onto the fantasy of doing my dishes in a couture Christian Dior gown than in an oversized, overpriced sweatshirt and sweatpants!

  • Felicia

    They’re taking the piss out of fashion. It’s (mildly) amusing, but who actually buys their clothes? That’s what I wanna know

  • Estilistas

    I understand that a ‘man repeller’ is when you dress for yourself, to express your personality and indivisualism, despite the price tag or the brand. Vetements is a joke, if you want to dress like a DHL delivery guy just go and get a job in the company, dont put their name in your tshirt just because
    Is ‘cool’ or revolutionary, (same goes to Moschino and their Mcdonald marketing) I see their collection and everything is a rip off of something, why would anyone want to look like they have just stepped out from having a race with Valentino Rossi? If that is truly who you are then do it! Dont repeat it because the street stylers are all wearing it or because Vogue says is cool.

  • Serena

    I agree. I don’t “get it”. To be fair, if you look at what Net-a-porter chose to stock, it’s the more “timeless but fashiony” pieces which could almost be mistaken for Joseph or Theory on a more creative day. The shoes (all of them) confound me though. Maybe the joke is on us? I mean, “vetements” is just “clothes” in French, so maybe that’s part of the joke?

  • pamb

    Leandra, love that you are telling the Emperor that he has no clothes. Now, please do the same for Kanye (unless you did in your Yeezy review and I missed it).

  • leannael

    Same. I love anti-fashion but this is Kanye-esque!

  • Demna Gvasalia is the Marcel Duchamp of fashion.

    http://www.otisunfiltered.blogspot.com

  • Diana Amézquita

    I think this obsession with Vetements is no different to the Balmain shirt with holes in it, that Decarnin made when he was the head of the label, or the Forever 21 looking dresses that Slimane designed at Saint Laurent. Really it’s just a matter of taste and preference, but it’s nothing new, and in my opinion, this clothes make more sense to me than a ripped tank top, or the ridiculously overpriced backpacks the Olsens make for The Row. It’s just the freshness of it all, beacuse normally, kids who dress like the Vetements label are the outcasts of fashion. Pretty soon the hype will die down, but surely not the label. Besides fashion this days it’s all about the shock value, with Instagram, Snapchat and what not. Just look at all the hype that Kendall and Gigi bring to any runway they walk, no matter if the clothes are actually good. So I think that we shouldnt judge Vetements so harshly, after all they are making clothes people are actually buying, wearing and that are actually kind of different, albeit “ordinary looking”. With that being said, no matter what any of us think of any label, at the end of the day, your opinion is as good or bad as mine o anyone elses, its all about personal taste I think.

  • Ramona Voss

    This article is so spot on, I truly felt as if I was the only one. I feel like it’s the modern version of the Emperor with no clothes. Vetements recently came out with a Titanic sweatshirt for upwards of 300 dollars and I LITERALLY have the identical sweatshirt I bought from Spencer’s when I was in middle school for roughly 29.99 at the peak of Leomania. I don’t understand? Most of their clothes that I see in retail shops are replications of other things i.e the DHL tee shirt. I’m at a loss?

  • Ramona Voss

    Also, I want to just throw this out there about the DHL shirt. The DHL shirt is literally the uniform of a former DHL worker who could never afford to based upon his DHL salary to purchase said Vetements shirt; are we saying ” Hey look at me I’m dressing like a middle class person but I spent 300 on this shirt so I’m actually not?”. That rubs me the wrong way, sorry to the Vetements fans on this page but I don’t care for that message.

  • Laura

    A year ago, I knew something strange was going on when an LA shopgirl asked if my ratty Thrasher sweatshirt was Vetements. I guess the good news is we can all look “runway” for 40 bucks. Maybe that’s the point.

  • Camilla Ackley

    This feels like the opposite of Zara copying Celine; high industry brands trying to emulate the normal person, like all people aren’t normal. I like their stuff but the price tag seems to undermine the concept.

  • Your mind is a marvel. I have to say tho, as much as I’m entranced by the fashion industry, I get the same wtf feeling way about so many things, from Fendi’s fur Karlitos to J. Crew’s overpriced clothing. I think like you said it all comes down to the desire to buy into something, to buy into the ‘cool factor’. All it takes is creating a hype.

    http://www.adxmaiora.com/night-life/

  • Nives

    I think that they’re making fun of the fashion industry and consumers who will buy just about anything if the industry says it’s okay to do so. You said it yourself – ”they sell DHL t-shirts for $330; you can request one from the de facto delivery service for $14.99” – because they can. They pulled a prank on the entire world of fashion and succeded.

  • Pri

    No one does!

  • queen of hearts

    Great piece. Way to subvert the subversion.

  • jess

    Loved this! I totally agree, too. I loathe the way people seem to be buying into paying a fortune for clothes that aren’t that spectacular at all and whose designers are probably laughing all the way to the bank. Screw $350 DHL T-shirts – I’d much prefer to save up for a Dolce & Gabbana swimsuit that makes me feel like a Venetian queen!

  • Anita

    Thanks so much for this post. But I really would like to know man repellers thoughts on the new luxury hot topic collection. I am not gonna lie… I liked the first collections, thought the DHL tee ok totally crazy, but it’s wearable… The jeans were super easy and gave off that cool street style effortless ooze… Even some of the shoes, I was convinced. Vetements was cool, not trying but yet part of the cool fashion club. NOW.. I am so confused. After seeing the latest drink me and live forever glam goth collection I am just in awe. And the shoulder pads? What about the fact that they make you look like you have no neck? And then off course it’s the price. Someone please tell me it’s a joke.

  • Bridget212323

    agreed – its over my head.

  • Marty Funkhouser

    It makes the very mundane high fashion, and its easy to emulate if you are poor. Thats why its popular

  • Kriso

    The story of the emperors new clothes exists for a reason. Its people trying find exclusivity and understanding by applying post modern theory. If you have been to art school, unfortunately the concept of this label IS as lame as it looks.

  • Nicolas Chaves

    It’s all about anti-fashion

  • doh

    Tracing back to this article after looking at Vetements’ ( which happens to be one of my favourite labels ) so called ‘couture’ collection makes want to loathe everything ‘fashion’ and the mindless hype and ignorant followers and fans and the game changing / rule breaking / whateverthefuckisgoingon phenomenon. Probably, they started with good intentions but lost itself to commercial gain and social media gimmickry. It better be satire, else it’s rightful to be termed fraud.

  • maureen griswold

    The way the fashion house deconstructs classic designs and turn them into something entirely new is very innovate to me. It’s very gender fluid which doesn’t suit most classically feminine tastes but to me, it’s a perfect blend of avante-garde design mixed with a tomboyish street-style attitude. I fucking love it!

  • Avery Thompson

    Amusingly, I Googled “Who designs Vetements and why is it so fucking expensive?” and ended up here. Now I realize that someone else feels exactly the same way! Vetements is nothing more than a load of fashion garbage. I can’t believe Rei Kawakubo would even let them near DSM, let alone feature them. UGH!!!

  • YoBabyWazUp?

    AAAAAnd what about those $600-$800 beat up Golden Goose Shoes??? One eyebrow is up! I’d like to hear a good defence.

  • Katrine Loris

    Totally and completely on the same page on this one.

  • BBQPrincess

    Champion clothes on sale at Khols for $5.99… I just don’t get this. How on earth will anyone even associate these clothes with fashion? They are what people of middle to lower income have been doing for years. (Anyone else patch up their own Levis in the 90s?)And… Being a homegrown Texan, those boots are laughable. >__<; I honestly don't mind some of these looks, but the price tag on them doesn't make them "cool" or "trendy". They're just basic cut down maternity dresses and spunky stripper shoes. (too harsh?)

  • Bota Sharipzhan

    Of course it didn’t speak to you! My mom still has the exactly same dress form pic #14, it’s a Sovet Union school uniform and my mom was born in 1950s.My dad bought a Champion T-shirt in Moscow for me and I was happy about it! Seemed so cool. All of the girls in our neighbourhood wore that TITANIC T-shirts made from shit material. You probably know that Sovet Union was a socialist state on the Eurasian continent that existed from 1922 to 1991, as Wikipedia says. Pretty long, so many generations thought it will last forever. Imagine millions of people who had no idea how to earn money after USSR dissapears, we all wore fake Abibas shit made in China. Leads to a lot of customizing, anything with foreign letters on it was considered “cool”. Gvasalia and Lotta were born in same year – 1981, in Georgia and Russia, so they represent generation who witnessed that subculture of poor kids from disadvantaged areas. And now, look! We’ ve been isolated from high fashion for many years and today they want to wear our reminder of that time!

    • Victoria

      Thanks for the insights. It’s always interesting to learn how different youth cultures react to the socio-political state they grow up in.

      Where you say “anything with foreign letters on it was considered “cool”” — that reminds me of the t-shirts sold here in the North America market featuring a slew of french phrases. It’s the same principal, but based on someone’s else culture.

  • Joy Miles Gimbel

    I’m a tomboy fashionista and both the Vetements & Balenciaga by Demna really speak to me. I splurged most on their pieces this fall. Yet I do find certain pieces absurd and can get Leana’s take on how ironic it might be;) Finding the perfect beautiful yet my style in a designer dress is a great feeling and wearing it to a fun outing even more cuz I feel like myself.
    That’s the same feeling I get from my fave Vetements red hoodie & Balenciaga oversized bomber.

  • Cris

    I’m italian and I’ve been living in this emperor’s new clothes syndrome since Berlusconi governments. And now we have Trump at the whitehouse. So maybe it’s a more general condition of our time. More media connect more people, but that doesn’t mean that they spread more competence. They just buzz. And it seems that more and more people buy that buzz without distinguishing true from fake. I find the current Alessandro Di Michele popularity based more or less on the same premise. Fake news turned to Cool. Could it be that? Or maybe I’m just getting old and I don’t get their values anymore?