Vetements isn’t on the Paris men’s schedule, but even in its absence it’s making noise. The brand launched a new Instagram account, and on its original account announced a “secret project” and a launch date of July 22, just shy of four weeks from today.
The video mashes up clips of mega-cities, a large apartment block, and iPhone wielding crowds, with an overhead shot of groceries being scanned by a teller. A building explodes, then another reconstitutes itself. The final image is a closeup of an eye overlaid with a barcode. So, what does it all mean? Nothing short of “replacing fashion’s traditional conglomerate structure,” says Vetements CEO Guram Gvasalia. On a phone call this afternoon he shared more details.
It’s not just a secret project, it’s a platform.
GG: “We’re launching a new brand. It’s not actually just one brand; it’s the first milestone in the whole situation. We’ve created the Gvasalia Family Foundation, and we’re starting with a new experimental laboratory. It will be a multi-dimensional platform for young talent, which hopefully one day could replace the traditional conglomerate structure and redefine co-working spaces and co-creating experiences. It’s very difficult in this industry that is quite monopolized by really big, big conglomerates for a young talent to survive. If you start your own project, it’s extremely difficult to get the minimum for production to buy the fabrics, to launch things, to do all the paperwork, and so on. So a lot of brands, they start and it’s very difficult to succeed. Or you go to a corporate structure and then you just get frustrated because it’s not you who is creating. The merchandising teams are telling you what to do.
We want to start something where we will give chances to talents, not just young talents. I think young talent is the wrong word because there are people who’ve been in the industry, who are maybe not in their 20s, but in their 40s and who still feel the desire, you know, to do something that they truly believe in. So I am saying we’re giving chances to talents of all ages to be free and to create brands that are not dictated by merchandising teams, where creation comes from the true place: within. Like it used to be back in the days. When Margiela was doing shoes with scotch tape, no one was telling him how many units of scotch tape he’s going to sell.
We are mentoring these people, giving technical development and production management, and doing the whole production management. We’re giving financial, supply chain, and distribution support. The important thing is it’s not going to be a part of Vetements. It is not going to be the same aesthetic. It’s going to be brands—for now it will be one brand—with a different name, with a completely different aesthetic, with a different casting, with different garments and garment categories. So, a completely new story.
The brand will cater to all genders, but it will still heavily be inspired by traditional men’s wear clothes and sartorial tailoring. It will be a brand without a logo, but it will be a brand that will be recognized from far away. We worked on creating something that will tell you what you’re wearing. It’s not like the stitches from Margiela, it’s a little bit more present. It will be a brand that does not exist yet, but I think is missed already. It will be a brand of tomorrow that is based on yesterday and today.”
It’s about collectives, not individuals.
GG: “It’s going to be five brands, 10 brands, as many as we can manage to find the right people for. Each brand will have an extremely recognizable aesthetic that is not the aesthetic of Vetements. It’s not sub-lines or under-lines or anything; it’s completely new and different stories. And for these stories, you need to put the right people together. It’s not just a designer who you need to have who is talented, but also the developer who is working on the collection, sometimes more than the designer and is making all the little decisions. If you look at the TV industry, at the end of the movie you will have all the credits for all the people who were involved. In fashion, it’s one person who comes out at the end of the show, and honestly, we all know it’s not true, it’s not one person. It’s many, many people who are doing it. For us, it’s more about creating aesthetics that are missing at the moment, in the industry. It’s not about one person, because the moment you create superstars, you will have the superstars bought by the conglomerates, and then this aesthetic does not exist any longer. If you want to be a star there is X Factor. If you come to fashion you really need to care about the clothes and the products that you’re making.
Creativity and creative people also have a certain expiration date. This is what you need to be aware about, that you really need to have this young blood flow happening. Gaultier once said: ‘Designers: With time, the shoulders just get bigger and the dresses get longer.’ I like big shoulders, but after a certain point you need to think about other ideas.”
It’s going to operate differently than familiar fashion companies.
GG: “It’s very difficult for the new thing to exist, because the industry has a few big players. Somehow we have the responsibility to start this whole thing. I think someone always needs to dare to start something new and it feels that we’ve gathered experience and understanding of certain processes, and also we’ve learned how to be extremely efficient. And I find that you can be much more efficient if you create smaller teams. I’ll give you an example: Our autumn/winter collection that is due for delivery at the end of September—we’ve delivered to the stores 96% already. And we’re going to deliver spring/ summer ’22 in September, before other brands are actually going to show their spring/summer collections, and this you only can create by having smaller structures. This is why we’re not bringing everything under one roof. Actually there is one roof, but there are teams that are working only on their specific thing. All of these companies, they will have their own structures, so they’ll have their own names, their own CEOs, their own teams, their own everything. Sometimes, when you’re smaller and quicker, you can actually get to the places where no one else can get.”
It’s going to be bigger than fashion.
GG: “The whole idea is not just to stop with fashion. I would like to have buildings in different places in the world where creative people under the umbrella can come and work together. And maybe it’s people from different industries who come together and create something completely different. For example, you come and you say, ‘I want to be a part of it and I have this journalistic experience, what can we do together?’ I think when you put smart people with ideas together you can create things that don’t even exist: products, or websites, or some lifestyle activities, and I think there is a huge potential behind being open-minded and just bringing people together and holding together. We launched yesterday our new vegetarian burger at KM20 in Moscow. We launched one a few months ago and in a few days we sold 2,000 burgers and they were shocked themselves, because it’s a concept store, you know, it’s not McDonald’s. And yesterday we launched a new one, because we improved the recipe. I think a brand can do so much more. I think if we’re all together we can really create just great experiences.”