It's Mission Accomplished For Vetements' Demna Gvasalia

The self-styled disruptor did just that, and after five years, is set to depart the brand.

Over the weekend, Demna Gvasalia announced his departure as head designer of Vetements. The brainchild of the Georgian designer and his brother, Guram, Vetements set out to disrupt, to hit the reset button for the industry-at-large. And it turned out to be a profitable reset too, with Women's Wear Daily reporting revenues of almost $100m in 2017. All of this on the back of £1,025 recycled jeans, and style based on the mundanity of life. 

It didn't make sense to the old school. This upstart definition of luxury was at odds with the carefully curated, upper echelon sense of aspiration, of jetsetters and townhouse owners and celebritydom. And that was precisely the point. With Vetements, Gvasalia launched the once-forgettable garb of the everyday into high fashion's core: the mosher hoodies of ostracized schoolyard crusties, ClipArt Obama campaign merch, and, of course, the infamous DHL T-shirt, a piece that was essentially a replica of the postworker's essential. Except this version was £185, and it was sold out, and it encouraged thousands to go for their Plan B in buying the actual original for $6.50. 

Left, the McDonalds-hosted Vetements SS2020 menswear show, and right, the infamous DHL T-shirt

Photo by Getty Images.

How did this happen? Arguably, Vetements elevated by looking at the stuff high fashion tends to ignore: real life and humdrum. Of Gvasalia's taste for what was once considered unsightly, the designer told The Guardian through a grin: "It's ugly, that's why we like it." Many in the industry weren't inclined to agree, but the Vetements effect was undeniable. This was selling. 

And yet, disruptors can only remain as such until contemporaries play catch-up. Vetements' strain of anti-fashion became fashion proper. Baggy fits and streetwear on minute production runs were everywhere, and unless Vetements recalibrates, there's an open vacancy for another disruptor. 

Which is perhaps why Gvasalia's departure comes at the right time. Speaking of the decision, the 38-year-old told Women's Wear Daily: "I started Vetements because I was bored of fashion and against all odds fashion did change once and forever... It also opened a new door for so many. So I feel that I have accomplished my mission of a conceptualist and design innovator at this exceptional brand and Vetements has matured into a company that can evolve its creative heritage into a new chapter on its own." 

New thinking often requires new talent, and with a wide and far-reaching collective, and Gvasalia's own creative energy still wedded to Balenciaga, another disruptor may come to the fore. The reset button remains primed for another push.

This story originally appeared on Minor edits have been made by the editors.

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