Coco Chanel would be turning in her grave if she knew that in today’s fashion market, socks with cigarette lighter heels, were being sold as luxury fashion. The offending individual, Demna Gvasalia, is better known as being the mastermind behind the provocative label, ‘Vetements’, which has taken the world by storm.
Ever since the brand emerged in 2014, controversy is something that Gvasalia never attempts to shy from. With every collection released, fashion editors, journalists, photographers, bloggers and everyone else in between, have erupted into frenzies over the way the brand scandalously presents the most mundane of garments as luxury fashion. Yet it is through Gvasalia’s unique and satirical aesthetic that has allowed the Vetements label to redefine what can be considered luxury fashion.
Upon first glimpse, it can be somewhat confusing trying to determine how Vetements achieved a level of such immense prestige. Simply put, there is nothing really spectacular about acid wash jeans, or floral dresses. Even their shows deviate from any kind of exclusive grandiose. A cruising club, complete with bondage swings and lube dispensers were utilised as the location for their F/W 2015 show, while another one invited the whos-who of the fashion elite to a desolate car park in Paris.
Photo Credit: Vogue and GQ Magazine
Through Gvasalia’s… ‘unique’ approaches to the fashion industry, it is indicative of the ways in which the industry is progressive and forever changing. The brand has redefined (or should that be, appropriated?), the notion of luxury fashion. With luxury clothing and accessories, comes an association with fine, premium materials. For instance, the difference between a regular purse, and a Hermes Birkin is that for the latter, only the highest quality leathers are sourced for the creation of each bag. The same goes with Vetements. While their typographic sweaters may look identical to every other typographic sweater that’s been in fashion since, they satiate a standard of luxury, as they are made with premium materials (such as molten cotton). The humble hoodie has now become a cult status icon, thanks to Vetements.
Within today’s context, the question of “what defines a luxury product,” has become elusive. Tailored suits and evening dresses no longer satisfy the luxury pre requisites, thanks to millennial consumers. Now, luxury is determined by the availability of the product. Simply put, the more limited it is, the greater its value. This is precisely at the heart of Gvasalia’s devious marketing scheme.
By imposing strict caps on production and purchases, it has altered the term ‘luxury’ to infer something that is scarce. The label has enforced strict measures upon production and purchases; only certain amounts of each piece of clothing are made per season, which reduces the availability of the item and enhances it as a high demand product. Once the product has been sold out, that’s it. When Gvasalia was questioned about it, he remarked that it was quite possible for the team to make up to a million copies of the sweater per day, however out of respect for the people who bought it first, they don’t.
And that is precisely where the line is drawn. To make large many copies of the same product would mean it is no longer luxury, it is mass-produced. And in the words of Gvasalia – “it’s not luxury if everyone has it.”
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