Is This the End of the $600 T-Shirt?
Designer Denma Gvasalia has decided that he's done enough Vetements, the brand he co-founded with his brother, Guram. News broke today that Gvasalia would be shifting his focus away from his disruptive and subversive label and focus on Balenciaga and other projects. WWD notes that Vetements was always meant to be seen as a creative collective, not the work of a single designer, and that it will continue without Gvasalia.
"I feel I have accomplished my mission," Gvasalia said. Many, WWD included, cite Vetements as one of the brands that brought streetwear into the mainstream. With that shift came Vetements's famed T-shirts, which borrowed iconography from brands such as DHL, death metal bands, and skate culture. Fashion critics see Gvasalia's departure as the final death knell of the overpriced T-shirt, which has been waning in the past few seasons.
Last year, Highsnobiety reported that an "anonymous North American retailer" had said, "from a retail standpoint, Vetements is completely dead." Business of Fashion added that the brand was outperforming its target of "50 percent growth year-on-year," and Gvasalia himself said that Highsnobiety's article was nothing more than "fake news."
GQ adds that Vetements may owe its near-instant popularity to Kanye West, who frequently wore the label and even enlisted Gvasalia to consult on the first few seasons of Yeezy. By pushing an oversized and often voluminous silhouette, Yeezy and Vetements quickly led the fashion world in a new direction and other labels were quick to follow. That included T-shirts — and though they didn't riff on mass brands the way that Vetements did, cheeky T-shirts from big labels such as Gucci and Versace may owe their popularity to Gvasalia's trailblazing. But like the designer, it looks like those same brands are slowing down and releasing fewer T-shirts. Gucci may always have its knockoff-inspired logo tee on offer, but it's no longer heavily featured on the brand's e-commerce site.
Fashionista adds that Vetements was often described as an "evenings-and-weekends passion project" for Gvasalia. Now that he's shifting his focus, expect more boundary-pushing and trendsetting at Balenciaga, where Gvasalia championed dad fashion with oversize sneakers, logo baseball caps, and "ugly" fashion.
"I think it's very interesting, the definition of ugly," Gvasalia said at Vogue's Forces of Fashion event. "I think it's also very interesting to find this line where ugly becomes beautiful or where beautiful becomes ugly. That's a challenge I like. I think that's a part of what fashion stands for, and I like that people think my clothes are ugly; I think it's a compliment."
With the possibility of even more of Gvasalia's signatures at Balenciaga and whatever else he has in store, the world of fashion won't be feeling a shortage of rebellion.