Yesterday, Anti Social Social Club unveiled a new collaboration with DHL consisting of co-branded hoodies, tees, a hat, and what looks to be a cushion imitating a shipping box. It’s sure to sell out because anything ASSC does is sure to sell out, even in 2019. But there are still many lingering questions in the wake of Vetements own irony-fueled DHL collab from 2016 (and 2018) and ASSC’s own tenuous relationship with shipping products. Color me bewildered. Here are all the things I’m left wondering.
1. Can we call this anything but a ripoff?
Vetements’ DHL merch was the unlikely hit of 2016, turning the fourth shipping service that comes to mind into a meme for the in-crowd. Nothing takes the piss out of fashion like turning an unsexy, bright yellow and red corporate logo scheme into one of the hottest trends of the year. Even funnier is the merch being born out of frustrations with DHL, as Vetements employees joked the shipping company would bankrupt them. Call it double-sided irony.
Anti Social Social Club isn’t adding another dimension here. They’re doing the exact same thing, invoking normcore while taking the piss out of someone. The only difference is that the joke is directed inward, as ASSC customers have been complaining for years about the lack of communication and waiting times for shipping. This isn’t even the first time ASSC had made that joke: the brand sold “Eye Hate Neek” shirts in 2018, referring to founder Neek Lurk. That brings me to another question…
2. Is anyone laughing?
Instead of fixing a valid and widespread complaint about its business practices, ASSC continues to poke fun at it. Kudos for self-awareness, but is that not a dick move? If your friend had a glaring shortcoming, how long would you continue to let them make self-referential jokes about it without fixing it? Eventually, you gotta dump that toxicity from your life.
3. Is this dancing on Vetements’ grave?
Is there another joke to be had here about Demna Gvasalia leaving Vetements? It’s hard to imagine the brand without him. So is stealing one of Vetements’ most notorious ideas a way of saying, “What are you going to do about it?” Doubters of this theory will say this collab was probably in the works for much longer, but given the product in front of our very eyes, is it hard to imagine it was cooked up in haste? Which leads me to…
4. How long did it take to design this?
The formula for too many ASSC collaborations, especially Honda and Hello Kitty, has been overwhelmingly simple: your logo up front, ours out back. Maybe something on the sleeves. Can you imagine any one of these pieces took more than 60 minutes to design? How about 30? Say what you will about Vetements, but at least they played with proportions, logo placement, color blocking, and hybrid pieces.
5. Is ASSC played out?
The brand name is excellent. That much is unquestioned. As unique as we like to think we are, most of us are some sort of introvert/extrovert hybrid, making the faux paradox highly relatable to the majority. But in the four years since the brand’s inception, what has the brand really done with it? Every season it’s slapped onto a range of different basics in an array of colors…and that’s about it. How are customers still inspired?
6. Does ASSC care about any of this?
For all of the above criticisms, none are likely to hurt the brand’s bottom line. They can do whatever they want: phone it in, treat customers like shit, steal ideas, whatever. As long as they can keep printing money by printing on Gildan and Rothco blanks, why would they change? Perhaps the entire brand is an elaborate troll, revealing how much we’ll put up with and how low we can set our expectations. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me every season for year after year, shame on my entire existence.