Going into the SS17 fashion weeks in London, Milan and Paris, I was fully expecting the Vetements hype to have died down — or be gone altogether. Fashion isn’t exactly renowned for its long attention span, and given the ridiculous amount of exposure Demna Gvasalia and co have had in just a few seasons, you’d be forgiven for thinking the brand would be on its way to the great hype bin in the sky — up there with Givenchy’s Rottweiler tees, leather sweatpants and basically anything designed by Been Trill.
To my surprise, Vetements was still all over the street style circuit. What’s more, elements of the brand’s aesthetic had actually made their way onto other designers’ runways. While grungy styling and deconstructed garments were seen in many a collection, the SS17 shows saw the appearance of an especially surprising new trend: extra-long sleeves.
Vetements’ uber-hyped hoodies and sweatshirts are cut comically oversized, and their elongated sleeves create a lumbering, slouchy silhouette — fitting for a brand that’s all about the low-brow and the trashy. Gvasalia pulled a similar trick when he worked on Kanye’s YEEZY Season 1 collection, too.
Super-big fits are a styling no-brainer — they look sick 99.9% of the time — but exaggerated sleeves aren’t exactly practical for everyday wear. What happens if you want to check your watch? Do they get stuck in doors? Those questions didn’t seem to bother many designers this season, though.
On the opening day of London Collections: Men, Xander Zhou one-upped Vetements’ extra-large hoodies by dropping some extra, extra-large hoodies with extra, extra, extra-large sleeves. Zhou’s collection also featured deconstructed garments and nouveau-grunge styling — also Vetements hallmarks — so zero points for originality there.
J.W Anderson’s menswear is, to the designer’s own admission, pretty much just a test tube for wacky ideas that may or may not make it into his highly successful women’s line. Included in Anderson’s London show were some drooping knitted tops with sleeves so long they pretty much touched the ground.
Given that his show also included aprons, ski goggles, spray-painted tunics, flight suits and crowns made from plastic building blocks, you can probably chalk this one up to Anderson’s mad imagination rather than any sort of trend-hopping.
One of the highlights of the London schedule, Liam Hodges’s collection was a patriotic homage to Britain’s blue-collar culture. He did some Frankenstein-like experiments that patched Dickies’ workwear pieces together, with oversized sleeves finishing at uneven angles.
Tourne De Transmission’s efforts, also shown in London, were a little more straightforward, and a little less convincing.
In Milan, Marcelo Burlon’s County of Milan label hit a double whammy of Vetements motifs with a purple tee that I actually thought was a Vetements collab when I first saw it: an extra-long fit, with gothic lettering running down the sleeves (sound familiar?). The trick was played out over some other pieces, too.
County of Milan has been celebrating underground subcultures since day one, and Burlon’s castings should be applauded for their diversity, but it’s pretty hard to deny the obvious Vetements similarities here.
Juun. J’s show in Paris was a glorious stampede of hyper-macho streetwear, inspired by the anti-gravity “G-suits” used by air force pilots and astronauts.
Centerpiece to the Korean designer’s SS17 were colossal hoodies and sweaters which had military-style netting attached to their extra-long sleeves. As the models stomped around the show space, the sweaters’ ropes flailed around their arms to dramatic effect — it looked sick, and the show was one of the strongest of the week.
OFF-WHITE’s SS17 show looked to the UK for inspiration, with many pieces inspired by the country’s rock ‘n’ roll legacy. Virgil’s collection featured slouchy intarsia-knit sweats with striking depictions of skeletons, scorpions, and, err, Oasis’s Liam and Noel Gallagher. Said sweaters had, you guessed it, extra-long sleeves.
Of course, we’re not saying that everyone here is ripping off Vetements left, right and center — fashion has always played with proportions, and designers will be designers. That being said, it’s funny to see how a relatively insignificant part of the Vetements aesthetic has made its way into the work of other designers.
The super-long sleeves trend might have been all over the SS17 runways for a moment, but don’t expect it to actually make it out into the real world — just imagine how impractical it must be to wear something like that day to day.
“It’s all hype” is an accusation that’s almost constantly thrown at Vetements. It’s pretty hard to deny that there’s an insane amount of hype going on — the brand is making headlines nearly every day at the moment — but the fact that designers are picking up on elements of the Vetements look shows that it’s genuinely bringing something new to the table. Demna Gvasalia’s appointment at the head of Balenciaga — an icon of French couture for nearly 100 years — shows that the industry is taking the label seriously, too.
Still not convinced by the Parisian label’s low-brow vibes and super-long sleeves? See what happened when I tried explaining Vetements to someone who hates fashion.
- Lead Image: Eva Al Desnudo / Highsnobiety.com