No brand has caused a stir on the fashion scene in the past few seasons quite like Vetements. The mysterious Parisian collective was dragged into the spotlight back in October 2015 when news broke that one of its designers, the Georgian-born Demna Gvasalia, had been appointed new Creative Director of Balenciaga. Since then, the label has rapidly become one of the most talked-about names in the business, and its larger-than-life garments are all the rage on the street style circuit.
Vetements' excruciatingly high prices put its clothing out of reach for many, but was nevertheless the talk of the town in the recent FW16 fashion weeks. The launch of Vetements' limited edition photo book at COMME des GARCONS' Paris store was met with a line of Supreme-esque proportions, and it seems like everyone in the industry is buzzing off the label's refreshingly anti-fashion standpoint.
What's often overlooked, however, is the striking similarities between Vetements' clothing and that of Gvasalia's old employer, Maison Margiela. That's no bad thing - Margiela is one of the most influential and highly-regarded houses in fashion for a reason, and it's hardly surprising that Demna's work at the Maison has inspired so much of Vetements' clothing.
Here's a few Margiela references - especially from the house's late ’90s, early ’00s period, when Martin Margiela was still there - that Highsnobiety's Creative Director and resident archive of fashion knowledge, Edward Chiu, spotted in Vetements' recent collections. Vetements' gear is shown on the left, Margiela's on the right. Enjoy!
A Margiela hallmark if ever there was one, and a classic tenet of the deconstructionist philosophy that the house pioneered, many of Vetements' pieces have been cut apart and pieced back together. Everything from tees to jeans have been rebuilt from mismatched cuts of fabric, giving them awkward, ill-fitting silhouettes.
Vetements' highly-coveted hoodies and crewnecks have been fabricated using similar methods, often with two necklines so they can be worn either front-to-back, or back-to-front. This overshirt from the label's SS16 collection is actually two fully-functional shirts stitched together, as if it was an accident from some sort of Frankenstein, Siamese Twin-style experiment.
DHL Logo Rips
Vetements loves to use a bit of tongue-in-cheek branding on its garments - appropriating lettering from Police and security guards' clothing - but the "DHL" print, which was modeled in the brand's SS16 show by Gosha Rubchinskiy, marks a high point in the label's irreverent approach to logos.
However, Gvasalia's crew weren't the first high fashion imprint to pay tribute to everyone's favorite courier service - see this pair of fetching Margiela sneakers from way back when Martin was still at the house.
The house plastered a shredded version of DHL's logo all over a pair of their signature "Replica" shoe (which is in turn a riff on an old Germany army shoe), while Vetements' homage to freight services came in the form of an extra-extra-extra-long cotton tee, bunched up at the wearer's waist.
Oversized fits are all the rage these days, but the sort of extreme approach to volume that Vetements has made its own can be seen throughout Margiela history - most notably in the house's Fall/Winter 2000 collection. Billowing trousers, engulfing outerwear and voluminous skirts created a larger-than-life aesthetic that's heavily reflected by Vetements' clothing - not to mention those extra-extra-extra-long sleeves that run throughout Gvasalia and co.'s collections.
A continuation of the reconstruction themes that run throughout the house's work, Margiela SS99 featured some striking patchworked jeans that had been spliced together from mismatched fabrics. Vetements' riff on Margiela's denim comes in the form of some extremely dope (not to mention extremely expensive) denim with stepped, raw hems that have no doubt inspired many strapped-for-cash fans to take a pair of scissors to their own regular jeans.
Other Vetements' jeans look like two pairs that have been unevenly pieced together straight down the side seams, complete with pockets that look like they're sliding down off the wearer's behind.
Across the Body Logos
Vetements' "Deutschland" T-shirt - a homage to the country that Gvasalia spend a significant part of his youth in - plasters Germany's name over the body and sleeves of an elongated longsleeve. A similarly-branded garment appeared in Margiela's Spring/Summer 1999 collection - although that time it was a suit jacket.
As is so often the case with upcoming labels these days, accusations of "it's all hype" have been flying thick and fast at Vetements. In our humble opinion, though, the buzz is entirely justified.
Gvasalia and his associates have perfected a winning formula for modern, high-end clothing - simply take Margiela's innovative, witty approach to garment construction and add some over the top, tongue-in-cheek branding, and you've got the perfect recipe for high-end streetwear.
You can wear it with pretty much anything, it's not delicate and it's not conceptual (does anyone really need to buy clothing inspired by prehistoric dinosaurs or centuries-old literature? Of course not).
It's an approach that feels distinctly now, and feels like it's exactly what people want from their clothing these days.
The opinions expressed in this article belong to the author and do not reflect the views of Highsnobiety as a whole.