The designer has nixed plans to parade his spring 2018 collection during couture week and will instead unveil it to buyers and press by appointment in a Paris showroom scheduled for June 26 to 30 during men’s fashion week in the French capital.
What’s more, he plans to style and photograph the collection himself, and release the images to the media.
“There are simply just too many shows. I find it a little bit insane,” said Guram Gvasalia, chief executive officer of Vetements and the designer’s brother, who also lamented the multiplication of itinerant shows in “remote” locations around the globe. “When there were fewer brands, fewer shows, fewer fashion weeks and collections, fashion shows were something to look forward to. Now it feels like there is one long fashion week that never stops and goes for 365 days a year. And the routine takes away the excitement.”
The executive said buyers and journalists “all seem to be tired of all the shows, the fashion weeks, constant traveling and being away from their families for months.”
“Today shows have nothing to do with clothes anymore,” he explained. “Most of the looks are not even produced and therefore never get to the shop floor. Shows are there merely to sell a dream that at the end of the day will sell a perfume or a wallet in a duty-free store.”
By contrast, garments are central to the Vetements ethos.
“Showing clothes to sell something else [seems] neither smart nor cost-efficient. We are not selling a fashion dream; we are selling a reality,” Gvasalia explained. “As the principal idea of shows has been misinterpreted and in a way mistreated, for us it felt a logical conclusion not to be a part of something that didn’t make sense anymore. By not showing we want to bring back the focus on the actual clothes.”
The executive did not rule out an eventual return to the runway, stressing that the method of presentation dovetails from his brother’s creative intent.
“This season, the collection is all about the product. It’s based on pieces we think are important in the wardrobe, and it doesn’t feel like couture pieces that need to be on a catwalk,” he said. “Demna has different visions for different collections, and this season we are experimenting.”
Founded in Paris in 2014, Vetements catapulted onto the fashion seen with electrifying, high-energy shows — in the basement darkrooms of a seedy gay club one season; a shabby Chinese restaurant the next — and an approach to fashion based on garments rather than seasonal themes or narratives.
Last year, the brand shifted its show from the ready-to-wear schedule to couture week as a guest member of the Chambre Syndicale de la Haute Couture, forging a path that Proenza Schouler and Rodarte are to follow with their Paris debuts next month.
In an interview on Thursday, Gvasalia stressed that the shift to a showroom format is not a cost-saving measure for Vetements, though he was vocal about the extravagance of some runway spectacles.
“From the business point of view, it makes sense not to waste hundreds of thousands and in some cases millions on shows that at the end of the day don’t bring much to the business but costs if you properly look at the return on investment,” he argued. “People in the industry keep talking about turnover and growth rates. What everyone seems to ignore are the costs. You can increase your return on investment not only by growing the sales, but actually by reducing unnecessary spending.…Buyers have the same allocated budgets regardless how much money you spend as a brand for a 10-minute performance.”
The showroom format during Men’s Fashion Week in Paris “will make it easier for the buyers” and gives journalists the opportunity to “come close to the clothes” rather than view them through a smartphone screen — as many in the front row do — and “see the details that we put into the garments,” he continued.
Gvasalia noted that Vetements may also “do something like a small get-together” ahead of the showroom, but details have yet to be confirmed.
Founded in Paris, Vetements recently relocated to Zurich as it turns the page on a chapter strongly associated with streetwear tinged with Eastern bloc edginess.
“It’s less subculture and more about product design,” he said. “It’s more into smart kind of design rather than designing fashion.”
His brother said the shift to Switzerland also telegraphs that Vetements is not “part of the conventional structure, not blindly following rules that are not making sense anymore.”
“Zurich is free from trends and fake coolness, it’s very real and pragmatic. We like when things are real and genuine,” he added.
The executive noted that the spring 2018 collection is “almost double the usual size” and includes garments done in collaboration with Levi’s, Reebok, Alpha Industries and Mackintosh, plus sneakers with Reebok.
Vetements wholesales its women’s collection to about 200 wholesale clients and its men’s range to about 50 wholesale clients.
Gvasalia declined to give sales projections for the spring 2018 season, but said the business is growing “steadily.”
He noted that Vetements has already begun shipments of its fall collection and that he’s aiming to deliver next spring’s collection before Christmas.
On Monday in New York, Demna Gvasalia is to receive the International Award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America for his Vetements label and his edgy designs for the house of Balenciaga, which he joined as artistic director in late 2015.
Balenciaga’s spring 2018 men’s show is scheduled for June 21 in Paris.
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