Why Vetements wasn't meant to last forever

The new fashion season begins with quite some intrigue. After Virgil Abloh’s announcement that he would take a break – on doctor’s orders – from his duties at Louis Vuitton and Off-White, it is now Demna Gvasalia’s turn to cause some ink to flow. 


Earlier today, WWD released a statement announcing Gvasalia’s departure from the much-lauded and controverted fashion collective, in which the former chief designer expressed his decision to move on: "I started VETEMENTS because I was bored of fashion, and against all odds fashion did change once and forever since VETEMENTS appeared and it also opened a new door for so many. So, I feel that I have accomplished my mission of a conceptualist and design innovator at this exceptional brand and VETEMENTS has matured into a company that can evolve its creative heritage into a new chapter on its own."


Awkwardly enough, Gvasalia’s departure coincides with a milestone year for VETEMENTS: the 10-year anniversary of the collective which was initially founded in 2009 in Paris, and which has been quite successful ever since. A source close to this situation said that his departure is related to business differences with his brother Guram Gvasalia, but this theory has not been confirmed by the brand. Regardless of all this, there is no doubt that VETEMENTS has had a considerable impact on the fashion industry for the past few years. In no time at all, the brand was everywhere, and its hype quickly turned into a monster on its own, with a high demand to match. From initiating luxury industry trends such as logomania, multiple collabs, and streetwear, to breaking high/low dichotomies and tapping into the desires of the millennials and gen-z-ers, while ingeniously mixing pop culture, underground, and normcore aesthetics, Demna Gvasalia and his collective of nameless designers have been at the center of the industry’s attention –and both lauded and criticized – ever since their first Fall 2014 collection hit the runway.  


However, after skyrocketing to fame – the brand’s pieces sold out whenever they dropped, and celebrities and influencers went crazy for the label – VETEMENTS has experienced an increasing customer fatigue in the past few years, so much so that press declared the brand "dead" only four years after it initially broke the Internet. The brand’s once successful business model – to create anticipation with considerably expensive pieces, which were limited in quantities and availability – seemed to have lost its attractive glow. But even after harsh criticism followed – mostly on class appropriation and the fact that prices were too high for the quality offered – VETEMENTS still remained a relevant go-to reference within the industry. Especially if you consider that it served as a springboard for Demna Gvasalia, who was appointed to the creative helm of Balenciaga in late 2015, merely one year after the hype around VETEMENTS started. 


The brand's customer fatigue might be due to the fact that the die-hard VETEMENTS fans have grown fond of Balenciaga, as Demna Gvasalia's signature style is thriving within the collections of the Kering-owned brand. Slumping sales seem not to be an issue when it comes to Gvasalia's collections for Balenciaga: Kering is speaking of a "very strong momentum" powered by its heritage brands, with reported revenue of €7.64 billion in the first half of 2019, an 18.8% increase from the same period last year. While Gucci and Saint Laurent made up the majority of Kering's revenue (40% and 25%, respectively), Balenciaga is set to do €1 billion in turnover this year and performed particularly well via its e-commerce, with ready-to-wear for both men and women and shoes doing "extremely well" according to Kering's Finance Chief Jean-Marc Duplaix.


So, what does this all ultimately say about VETEMENTS? Is Demna Gvasalia’s exit an attempt to kill the hype monster that he created, while keeping the upper hand at Balenciaga? Or is it merely a way to show us that VETEMENTS wasn’t ever meant to last, that it was simply a "mission," as he told WWD, which he has now "completed"? After all, the VETEMENTS collective was borne out of designer friendships in a Parisian apartment with an initially honest goal: to refocus the attention of the fashion industry on the clothes themselves. Paradoxically, the brand has done everything but that. In fact, it has built its empire on an undisputed social media hype, one which came with a frustrating sales strategy and a cultural impact that went far beyond clothing itself. 


Now that VETEMENTS is about to succumb to the pressure of its own fate, the industry wonders whether it can really survive without its star designer? But is it actually necessary for the brand to continue to exist and succeed? Wouldn’t it be more logical, for a brand like VETEMENTS, which is intrinsically bound and defined by its hype, to end when its hype ends too? Maybe that could be VETEMENTS’ final, nihilistic anti-fashion trick: to show to the luxury industry that perpetuating the heritage it is based on is a needless quest for success. That truly authentic creation is de facto one that is entirely in tune with its own generation – and one that is therefore based on the ephemeral. While the future of VETEMENTS remains uncertain, one thing is certain for sure: Demna Gvasalia knows how to leave on a high note.


VETEMENTS Spring/Summer 2020 runway show in Paris. Photo by Valerio Mezzanotti


SHARE
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Pinterest
SIMILAR ARTICLES
Beauty Built on AI
By Sofia Celeste
Interview with Cherry Pick’s Justin Stewart Now that the first artificial intelligence-engineered...
By Sofia Celeste
By Sofia Celeste
Interview with Cherry Pick’s Justin Stewart Now that the first artificial intelligence-engineered fashion collections are already on the market, there is no better time than the present for the beauty industry to dive in head first. Yoox, Amazon, Alibaba, and fast fashion retailers like H&M and...
Interview with Cherry Pick’s Justin Stewart Now that the first artificial intelligence-engineered fashion collections are already on the market, there is no better time than the present for the beauty industry to dive in head first. Yoox, Amazon, Alibaba, and fast fashion retailers like H&M and Zara have all invested heavily in artificial intelligence, an innovation that has been at the core of...
American Shoppers Stimulate EU Retail
By NOWFASHION
The latest edition of the Planet Shopper Index (PSI) – a quarterly rundown of the top 25 most...
By NOWFASHION
The latest edition of the Planet Shopper Index (PSI) – a quarterly rundown of the top 25 most lucrative source markets for European retailers – reveals that international shopper activity across Europe accelerated in the second quarter of the year, mainly driven by US shopper activity and a...
The latest edition of the Planet Shopper Index (PSI) – a quarterly rundown of the top 25 most lucrative source markets for European retailers – reveals that international shopper activity across Europe accelerated in the second quarter of the year, mainly driven by US shopper activity and a bounce-back of visiting nations’ currencies against the pound and euro.  In fact, a strengthened dollar...
Shanghai FW Kicks Off
By Jing Zhang
Outside of the four major fashion weeks, Shanghai has emerged as one of the most important...
By Jing Zhang
By Jing Zhang
Outside of the four major fashion weeks, Shanghai has emerged as one of the most important fashion hubs in the East. Though the country’s most established names like Masha Ma and Uma Wang prefer to show in Europe, Shanghai Fashion Week provides a platform for young, independent labels such as...
Outside of the four major fashion weeks, Shanghai has emerged as one of the most important fashion hubs in the East. Though the country’s most established names like Masha Ma and Uma Wang prefer to show in Europe, Shanghai Fashion Week provides a platform for young, independent labels such as Xuzhi, Oude Wang, and Shushu/Tong. It's also an occasion for foreign journalists and buyers to discover...
IPOs: Waiting for a Tech Unicorn
By Sofia Celeste
Just over a decade ago, investors with a penchant for luxury goods were reeling over the slew of...
By Sofia Celeste
Just over a decade ago, investors with a penchant for luxury goods were reeling over the slew of IPOs that rocked the markets – family-run businesses like Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada among them, following in the steps of Bulgari and Tod’s.That all changed after the financial crisis. Today,...
Just over a decade ago, investors with a penchant for luxury goods were reeling over the slew of IPOs that rocked the markets – family-run businesses like Salvatore Ferragamo and Prada among them, following in the steps of Bulgari and Tod’s.That all changed after the financial crisis. Today, trade woes, weak EU banks, Italy’s bad debt crisis, and political malaise continue to toss cold water on...
Chanel Unveils 19M
By Jessica Bumpus
It’s been a productive week for Chanel. Not only did the luxury French fashion house strengthen...
By Jessica Bumpus
By Jessica Bumpus
It’s been a productive week for Chanel. Not only did the luxury French fashion house strengthen its portfolio of specialty métiers, it also unveiled 19m: the very building that will become a hub for its Métiers d’Art, set to open next year.Located in the northeast of Paris at Place Skanderbeg,...
It’s been a productive week for Chanel. Not only did the luxury French fashion house strengthen its portfolio of specialty métiers, it also unveiled 19m: the very building that will become a hub for its Métiers d’Art, set to open next year.Located in the northeast of Paris at Place Skanderbeg, the 25,000-square-metre building designed by French architect Rudy Ricciotti will bring together 10...
Digital Influence Dominates
By Elisabeta Tudor
Today, more than ever, social media – and Instagram, more importantly – is undoubtedly the luxury...
By Elisabeta Tudor
By Elisabeta Tudor
Today, more than ever, social media – and Instagram, more importantly – is undoubtedly the luxury industry’s pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. And Heuritech, a Paris-based company, intends to turn this pot of gold into valuable nuggets of market data.  In fact, the company just...
Today, more than ever, social media – and Instagram, more importantly – is undoubtedly the luxury industry’s pot of gold waiting at the end of the rainbow. And Heuritech, a Paris-based company, intends to turn this pot of gold into valuable nuggets of market data.  In fact, the company just released the Spring/Summer 2020 main industry trends across all four cities (Paris, Milan, London, and...
Feminism: A Fashionable Trend?
By Chiara Condi
Fashion can create trends, but it can also pick up existing trends from the ground, reflecting...
By Chiara Condi
Fashion can create trends, but it can also pick up existing trends from the ground, reflecting and echoing them back. Feminism has become a clothing trend because it responds to how women are feeling today. Why do we choose to wear the things we do today? The best way to explain it is that, as...
Fashion can create trends, but it can also pick up existing trends from the ground, reflecting and echoing them back. Feminism has become a clothing trend because it responds to how women are feeling today. Why do we choose to wear the things we do today? The best way to explain it is that, as women, we are literally wearing our anger on our sleeves. And we are right to do so. According to the...
Arab Fashion Week Commences
By Sofia Celeste
Arab Fashion Week kicked of Wednesday, welcoming over 40 designers from the Middle Eastern region...
By Sofia Celeste
By Sofia Celeste
Arab Fashion Week kicked of Wednesday, welcoming over 40 designers from the Middle Eastern region to showcase their 2020 Resort collections. The six-day event, running between October 9th to the 14th, is considered the “next Milan” by many industry experts.Though the region lacks the presence of...
Arab Fashion Week kicked of Wednesday, welcoming over 40 designers from the Middle Eastern region to showcase their 2020 Resort collections. The six-day event, running between October 9th to the 14th, is considered the “next Milan” by many industry experts.Though the region lacks the presence of major fashion conglomerates and listed fashion companies, the Middle East boasts artisan heartlands...