At 9:00 this morning (EST) Helmut Lang was rebooted. The brand, which, for all intents and purposes, had been flapping in the wind since creative directors Nicole and Michael Colovos departed in 2014, slowly began to make waves in January when it released a capsule collection with rapper Travis Scott. Then, in March came the announcement that Dazed & Confused editor-in-chief Isabella Burley had been tapped by the company’s chief executive, Andrew Rosen (who is also the CEO of Theory), to become the brand’s first ever “editor-in-residence,” and her first move was to tap HBA’s Shayne Oliver as a designer in residence. He will create a capsule collection, set to debut on September 11 during New York fashion week.
Since then, it’s pretty much been radio silence. But recently, the Helmut Lang Instagram account was wiped. And last night, cryptic posts began to pop up, like, “The only COMPANY that cares for YOU,” and “IMPRESS YOUR PARENTS Wear Helmut Lang.” Then, bam! 9:00 am—new campaign, new social media presence, new Website, new millennial-friendly everything.
And that’s kind of the point. In an interview with Vogue’s Nicole Phelps, Burley noted, “It’s really important for Helmut Lang to be an authority on Helmut Lang again. For us to take ownership and say this was done by the brand first, telling that story to a new generation is exciting to me.” Indeed, the latest generation of fashion obsessives, those who can’t get enough of the likes of Vetements or Virgil Abloh, might not realize that Helmut Lang was not always a contemporary brand that catered to downtown kids looking for an accessible edgy fix. They might not realize that Lang, who has since abandoned fashion for conceptual art, was a pioneer of the deconstructed ’90s minimalism that is so popular on the runway today, or that, as firstVIEW’s Don Ashby pointed out, the designer is the reason that runway shows are no longer held on raised platforms. They perhaps don’t know that all the gritty anti-fashion that is once again all the rage was born from Lang’s loins. And, like Paul Andrew is doing at Ferragamo, it’s essential to remind consumers that Hey! These homages are nice and all, but we did this first, this is our brand, and this is what we stand for.