Vetements, meaning clothing in French, is a fitting name for this new Parisian brand focused on delivering closet staples minus excess frills. While the brand name may be a bit generic, the brand concept is anything but. Designed by a collective of seven designers who are, more or less, anonymous, the designers usually answer interview questions as a unit, hoping to steer attention away from themselves and exclusively onto the clothes. A cynic may call this a PR stunt and whether or not that’s true, it has no doubt contributed to the new brand gaining major traction. Not since Maison Martin Margiela has a brand been thrust into the spotlight shrouded under such intense mystery. Unsurprisingly, each of the designers, all of whom were formerly trained at top design universities across Europe, spent time working at Margiela.
The brand made its debut for Fall 2014 and premiered on the runway for the Spring 2015 season. The collections are clean-lined and consist mostly of monochrome designs. Plays on proportion are key (think oversized leather jackets paired with tailored pants or extra long sleeves) as are slits (they were often paired with thigh-high boots for Spring 2015), serving to add visual interest given the lack of surface embellishments. While the brand’s ethos is focused on wearable closet staples, the Margiela-esque touches like one-armed tops, dresses with varying front and back floral prints and wildly oversized suiting make the brand’s collections more fashion-forward than the designers give them credit for (for better or worse in terms of commercial appeal).
In Their Own Words
- The collective has real women in mind when designing. “We decided to think, firstly, of all of the women we wanted to dress, what their preferences are, what length for a skirt, what kind of tailoring shapes, what colours, what essential garments. We thought of our friends, of real people we know and what they would want to wear.”
- Don’t try to look for a running theme or inspiration. One of the designers, Ines Veiga Pena, revealed that the “idea was not to work on seasonal themes in the collection as it can easily block or cannibalize great ideas that simply do not fit in a classic seasonal theme. We approach every piece separately and decide what do we like most about this certain piece, how to make it better without considering the totality of the collection. In this way we achieve a product that stands on itself as well as within the whole collection.”
- It’s a sobering reality that even if you want to fight the traditional fashion landscape, as a commercial brand hoping to make profit, you can only do so much, something Vetements has already discovered. “What we try to do is satisfy certain aesthetic, which is independent of trends and tendencies. We deliberately wanted to be a niche brand as globalized fashion threatens individuality of brands. However we are to function within this market so the challenge is to keep our own pace in this ever-changing and oversupplied environment.”
- The brand started because each of the seven designers felt that fashion was losing a sense of fun.
- The debut collection was picked up by nearly 30 retailers.
- Designers may rotate in and out of the collective, so expect possible shifts in aesthetic in the coming seasons.
Images: Courtesy of Vetements