It’s the age old question, or rather, one that’s permeated fashion’s round tables and think pieces for the last year and change: Is Vetements cool? The brand, launched by a collective in 2014 and helmed by Georgian-born Maison Martin Margiela alum (and now Balenciaga artistic director) Demna Gvasalia, has become known for its ’90s streetwear-tinged duds, ironic, pricey logoed wares (like that now infamous Spring 2016 DHL t-shirt, or the Champion-inspired sweats), and awkward silhouettes (formerly oversized with elongated sleeves, a look that was subsequently copied by every brand from New York to Paris; more recently shrunken, so get ready to see plenty of tight, ill-fitting clothes on the Spring 2017 runways). Kanye West is a fan (which, if I’m being honest, doesn’t really help the brand’s indie cred), as are a slew of fashion editors, street style stars, and moneyed cool chasers. But a few weeks ago, Lorde, the world’s coolest teenager, tweeted, “Vetements is uncool now.” Woah. Bomb dropped. “We did that pretty fast,” the 19-year-old New Zealander continued. “Planet Earth came in hot for a solid year and now your lame friend down the road is buying a DHL tee.” Ouch. Earthshattering stuff.
When Vetements began hitting its stride after its Fall 2015 show in a seedy Paris sex club, fashion’s powers that be swooned, gushed, and propped the brand up on a pedestal. “Fashion people are neophiliacs,” said Dr. Valerie Steele, the director and chief curator of the Museum at FIT. “They’re in love with things that are new, especially when there’s a new designer who seems to be doing a new kind of fashion—that’s raw meat to fashionistas. Fashion editors and buyers really fall in love fast with the new, hot, young designer, particularly if he—and unfortunately it’s usually a he—is doing something that is or seems significantly different from what everybody else is doing. [Insiders] certainly do have that lemming-like ability to go rushing off a cliff after their favorite new person.”
But is Vetements new? One editor was quoted in the Guardian saying she’d “seen Margiela the first time around,” and thus wouldn’t be attending Vetements’ Spring 2016 outing. “That’s the other thing,” Steele said. “They’re in love with the new, but fashion people tend to forget really rapidly something that stopped. Margiela is still an amazing force in fashion—lots of people, including Demna, are still inspired by Margiela. And while John Galliano’s doing a terrific job at Margiela, he’s not Margiela, so in a way, Demna is kind of a surrogate for some of the things that still seem new and exciting about Margiela-style fashion.”