Vetements CEO Talks Scarcity, Social Media and Conspicuous Production

In the midst of the Fall/Winter 2017 shows, WWD sat down with Guram Gvasalia – CEO of Paris-based "it" brand, Vetements. Gvasalia spoke to the problems plaguing the fashion industry, how the brand ensures scarcity of its wares, the power of social media, and more. Here are some of the most striking excerpts from the conversation, which can be found in its entirety on WWD ...

On problems with the market: The problem of the whole parallel market [retailers that place large orders and flip merchandise to other unauthorized sellers]. You have stores in small cities that are turning over $50 million, $70 million a year whereas a store in a big city can’t even do $2 million. It’s becoming ridiculous because today it’s not just in Italy. I know stores in the U.S. that are doing it. There are stores in Germany that are doing it – stores that we all know and respect a lot.

On the Vetements “policy of scarcity”: We always supply less than the demand, so we’re always sold out. It’s easier to sell one piece less than the market wants, so you are sold out rather than to sell a piece extra, and it doesn’t sell. This is why we’ve been doing this and it’s been working so far. The point is if you go to see clothes on sale, it means there was more supply than there was demand.

On production: I think we’re at a point of conspicuous production. Consider the whole situation with garbage in the world. We’re producing so much garbage in this world. And I don’t want to call clothes garbage; but for me, it’s wasteful. In a world full of garbage, we produce more and produce more, that at the end of the day, no one needs anymore. 

[Insert note about how ironic this statement is coming from the CEO of a fashion brand whose wares are trendy and highly season-specific.]

On how the brand works to ensure more full-priced sales: We don’t put all the merchandise in the market at the same time. If you drop too much product, you lose attention. If you put too much different product on the market at the same time, you lose attention. You want for a product to have time, for people to start speaking about, for people to start buying it. It’s like food, you know: You get course number one, course number two, course number three. If you put all the courses together you probably won’t be able to eat everything, because it will just get cold.

On the power of social media: Today, because everything moves so fast, no one wants to think long-term. They buy a hoodie, they put it on, they take a selfie and put it on Instagram and it brings them closer to a certain group of people and they feel a sense of belonging. This is what the world is looking for. Before it was religion, and the brands are sort of replacing it, even if it’s sad to say that. Look at Apple basing its entire structure on the idea of belonging.