vetements celebrates fuck-the-system nerds
“Geeks have become the new punks, they’re changing the world.”
While Demna Gvasalia has been at the forefront of crafting new glamour for a new generation at Balenciaga -- his “neo-tailoring” has inspired a wave that has swept over the autumn/winter 19 men’s shows -- he used his latest, ever disruptive Vetements show to revert back to outfitting disaffected youth. From nuanced normcore to in-your-face slogans on hoodies, Vetements autumn/winter 19 served as an exploration of the dark web, an online world that most people don’t see... made all the more sinister by the cluster of taxidermy animals that lined the catwalk inside The French National Museum of Natural History. The opening shirt set the tone with a message that read: “Warning: what you are about to see will disturb you. There is a dark side to humanity the censors won’t let you see, but we will. View it at your own risk.”
“As always, inspiration begins on the internet, that’s how we often work,” Demna Gvasalia explained post-show. “But for the first time, we went went deeper. This was about people who know how to access the dark net, exploring a hidden digital world behind the wall you can’t see. I didn’t know about it, but you can buy anything you want with Bitcoin. It’s crazy, scary stuff. And you have perfect freedom to do it, because no one can see you, you have no identity,” he warned. “How far can it go, and what is the reality of what we know and don’t know about it? What we realised is that the geeks have become the new punks, they’re the ones changing the world. This was my tribute to what these new punks and grunge kids are doing today.”
Since its inception in 2014, Vetements have continually challenged the fashion system. From cancelling shows to throwing real-fake market pop-ups to popping-up on any schedule it wants to, the Paris-born, Zurich-based brand have looked to subvert the industry’s traditions and stimulate thought around fashion’s future. Though many are moving away from streetwear and normcore, Vetements refuses. “This is Vetements territory, and I want to own it.”
Among the refashioned wardrobes of disgruntled teens from the 90s and 00s, the DIY anarchy symbols, and the bootleg Interpol merch, there were a number of slogan T-shirts that made us lol: “It’s my birthday and all I got was the overpriced hoodie from Vetements”, “It’s Hocus Pocus time w(b)itches”, “I survived swine flu, so now I'm vegan”, and an homage to that iconic 1992 Nirvana Rolling Stone cover and Kurt’s “Corporate magazines still suck a lot”.
With the Gilets Jaunes protests entering their tenth week in Paris, this collection could be read as politically timely (or insensitive) but Vetements aren’t reacting to a specific moment. They’ve long placed their lens on disaffected youth. “We cannot run off from it,” Demna finishes with, “we need to inform ourselves.”