By Landuo Yuan
“Streetwear — understood as a cultural phenomenon and not a trend — is certainly destined to last,” said Antonio Cristaudo of Pitti Immagine to Business of Fashion in 2015. “Streetwear stands out from other passing trends.”
Indeed, years have passed since luxe (high-price-point) Streetwear brands such as Off-White and Hood By Air crashed the snobby fox-trot party of luxury fashion with 、underground-went-viral mixtapes, yet their popularity and customer base have only shown a skyrocketing growth trajectory. Jeremy Scott of Moschino, Raf Simons of Calvin Klein, and Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga are shaking up creative directions of traditional fashion houses with their Streetwear-influenced visions. Stylists, models, editors, and the whole kaleidoscope of fashion influencers alike have been quick to slam the Hypebeast bucket hat onto their teased, highlighted blowouts, an accessory formerly sneered upon in association with the Sneakerhead snapback and the Skaterboi beanie. It looks like Streetwear is here to stay – on runways, in department stores, and among endless, brunch-filled feeds of Instagram bloggers. But if Streetwear is beyond a fleeting fad to follow in frantic, trend-setting obligation, why are we shedding $1200 for an oversized hoodie season after season?
Yep, you read it – that’s the price point of a staple piece from Vetements X Tommy Hilfiger, a collaboration collection launching next February through Vetements’ distribution channels. Labeled “Unisex” (which can basically be interpreted as non-form-fitting in this context), a long-sleeve t-shirt will go for $720 and a cap, $285, roughly comparable to prices within Vetements’ past collections. At a glance, Tommy seems to be getting an amazing deal – revenue from pieces designated to sell out within hours, association with one of the most buzzworthy names at Paris Fashion Week, and not to mention breaking the mold of typical famous designer X high street fashion collaborations as a lower-price-point brand fronting the collection. For a 32-year old Americana brand that’s been desperately trying to please the millennial market, an edgy lookbook with shots of pasty girls and boys on the mean streets of Zurich is a sweet breath of heaven.
This isn’t the first time Vetements has ventured into the world of brand collaborations. Besides satin Manolo Blahnik boots peeling off from skinny thighs and all-black Dr Martens with the signature Vetements touch of rebellion, we’ve seen on its runway models sporting 90s American classics such as Juicy Couture, Champion, and Reebok at Paris Couture Week in all seriousness. In the grand scheme of whatever vintage branding tactic it is that Vetements is pulling (and clearly doing great with), this collection with Tommy is starting to look like just another stitch in the pattern. Vetements’ best-sellers remain its fringed jeans with a dark patch on the ass and its baggy meta-hoodie with the word “Hoodie” printed on the left chest. Insiders know a Vetements piece when they see one – after all, who wants to pay half a month’s rent for a Tommy Hilfiger shirt?
Not Whoopi Goldberg. Last September, she blessed audiences of The View with a statement-making Vetements hoodie, joining the ranks of Vetements’ celebrity stan-club headed by Selena Gomez, Rihanna, and Kanye. Bottom line – if a sweatshirt can make you feel like Deloris Van Cartier or Yeezus, then damn it, you need it.
Fashion royalty is fleeting – even the Kardashians struggle to keep up with their own relevancy. Gone were the days when socialites and European princesses dominated style with silk scarves and monogrammed leather handbags. Millennials are dressing like their favorite pop singers, rappers, K-pop idols, and celebrity models. Double Cs and tiny horse-drawn carriages are replaced by new-money labels to look out for – HBA, red Supreme tags, Stussy World Tour prints, and a rare pair of tan Yeezys, yet the psychological factor of motif branding remains – it’s eye-catching, it’s reassuring, and it’s definitely a symbol of “refined” (or at least on-trend) taste. Going back to Vetements, perhaps Tommy Hilfiger is benefiting more than we can quantify from the collaboration – aren’t Juicy Couture, Champion, and Reebok’s own lines thriving in Urban Outfitters stores now? Their own signature logos and motifs, when worn by luxe Streetwear consumers, no doubt signify an upwards-trickle for their brands in the hierarchy of fashion. After all, it’s been 20 years since the 90s – enough to call it retro-fashion and bring in sales volume (perhaps even an elevation of brand image! gasp!) with a new wave of nostalgic throwback, made inseparable to Streetwear (once again, not a trend, but a subcultural style) for efforts such as Vetements’. Pop the champagne, Tommy.