“Some Thoughts From,” a series of short features spanning some of the industry’s most notable designers, editors, models and other industry insiders, sharing their thoughts on anything and everything fashion. Up this week: a look back at some of the most quotable excerpts from Vetements co-founder and Balenciaga creative director, Demna Gvasalia (pictured above, left).
On creating wearable garments: My intention is not to make clothes that are completely new, or to be in a museum—as long as something is practical and somebody needs it in her wardrobe, then it makes sense to me … I mean as a fashion designer, in my opinion, that’s all you want to do. Not to create a fairytale — that’s not reality — but to make that hoodie they want to wear or that dress they need to have.
On the Vetements design process: I think the way we work is very intuitive. We don’t force things. We always work on one garment at a time, and for example, if we spend more than 20 minutes on it, we just cancel it because it doesn’t feel right.
On not wanting to be in fashion: We do not want to be part of an idea of fashion that is about glamour and about something unattainable or super exclusive.
[Note from the editor: Gvasalia's thoughts on avoiding unattainability and exclusivity are particularly interesting. They should, however, be considered with a healthy dose of skepticism, as many of Vetements' most popular offerings to date consist of sweatshirts that retail for $1,000 and t-shirts for upwards of $400. Moreover, the brand's CEO, Gvasalia's brother, Guram, has stated: "Stores cannot buy more than ten pairs of jeans and Italian stores are not allowed to buy more than four pieces of jersey in one style, and once it’s sold out, it’s sold out. We had hoodies from the first season that sold out super quickly and we had thousands of requests to make the hoodies again. If we were to, we would probably be able to make a million in a day. We don’t."]
On Vetements’ and Balenciaga’s controversial casting: Our criteria for choosing models was purely based on the idea of diversity of character. We had very different types of girls but Lotta [Volkova, stylist and model] who works with me, we come from this cultural background where [race] is not even an issue. We don’t even have that thing to think we have to be politically correct. I guess the criticism is justified but from my point of view it was the attitude of those girls that was important for me not the shade of their skin or their origin.
On what motivates him: How do you make something that people already know, but they still want to buy because they don’t have one? This is the challenge we have to face every six months, which is an exciting challenge for a designer I think. That’s what motivates me. Every time we are having a fitting and we are trying things on we say, “Ok, what do we do with this one now to make it wantable?” That’s hard. It’s much harder than decorating something with beautiful material and shapes.
On what’s wrong with modern day fashion: What is not working is the fact that there is no relationship between the creative vision and the commercial vision. I think they are very separated, yet they are very dependent on each other, because the commercial vision needs to pay for the creative vision’s existence, in a way.
The whole system just doesn’t work anymore. This whole vicious circle turns and turns at a very fast speed and kills both the creativity and the business. Most of them survive on making bags and perfume at the end of the day. Ready-to-wear, which is the platform and the base of fashion, is really in the shadow today, with a few exceptions.
On Vetements’ pricey garments: My friends very often can’t afford the clothes. Like myself, I wear prototypes but I don’t think I’m crazy fashion enough to go and buy those things. I’d rather go on holiday. I feel like it brings more use. Holidays are important. Holidays and quality time on your sofa.