BERLIN — Now it its third season, Vêtements prefers to let its clothes speak for themselves — literally. The Paris-based fashion collective, made up of alumni of brands including Margiela and Louis Vuitton, is on a retail launch tour through Europe that features mini speakers on the hangers of each garment which tell a recorded story about the piece’s design, production, or inspiration.
On hand for last week’s launch event at Berlin’s The Store, although he’d largely lost his voice, Vêtements’ Guram Gvasalia provided a few enthusiastic words for the shop, which opened this winter on the ground floor of the city’s Soho House.
“I think these guys are building a new definition of retail, that very is important. And we’re kind of working with a new definition of clothing,” he said.
That definition includes wardrobe classics refracted through a lens of extreme proportions, finished with a sense of humor and off-kilter cool. The design team is headed by Gvasalia ’s brother, Demna.
Due to demand for the brand’s spring 2015 collection, the event in Berlin showed samples of Vêtements’ LVMH Prize shortlisted fall women’s wear line. Guests tried on a sage green gargantuan bomber jacket and an over-oversized black leather jacket that trailed floor-length fringe from its sleeves. Also on show were vintage Levi’s reconfigured to add a bit of lift and tailored pieces made with extra volume that change the way they hang on the body – garments requiring attitude to wear.
The collection was realized with 25 top fashion manufacturers all over the world, with close collaboration between the design team and production, which squeezed Vêtements’ work into breaks, and weekends.
All the pieces are in the fabric they’re supposed to be, said Gvasalia. “You would never see here a bomber jacket from silk, or wool sweatpants.”
Vêtements is currently exclusive in Germany to The Store. But it won’t be for long. Gvasalia, who serves as the brand’s chief executive officer, said five to six more German doors will be added, starting with next season.
Guram Gvasalia partly grew up and studied in Germany, and still has strong connections. While Vêtements’ studio is in Paris, the self-financed company is actually headquartered here, with an office and a warehouse in Dusseldorf to mine the efficiency of the country’s banks and orderly shipping and customs.
“There’s so much potential here,” he said, watching Berlin’s fashion crowd try on his labels’ looks. “Women who can understand the collection, and completely fit to the aesthetic of the brand.”
They seem to be worldwide as well. Only a year old, Vêtements is in more than 40 stores worldwide, including Joseph in London, Sprmarkt in Amsterdam, and 25 doors — from San Francisco’s Susan to Seattle’s Nordstrom — in the US.