Vetements lifted the veil on announced the heavily-hyped “secret project” that it has been teasing since it announced late last month that it would launch a new venture. In an interview last month, the Zurich, Switzerland-headquartered company’s CEO Guram Gvsalia told Vogue, “We’re launching a new brand.” Or actually, “It’s not just one brand; it’s the first milestone in the whole situation,” he clarified, stating that he – and presumably brother Demna Gvaslia, the creative director of Balenciaga and former creative chief of Vetements, “created the Gvasalia Family Foundation, [which] will be a multi-dimensional platform for young talent that hopefully one day could replace the traditional conglomerate structure.”
In an effort to “redefine co-working spaces and co-creating experiences,” Gvaslia said that it is “very difficult in this industry that is quite monopolized by really big, big conglomerates for a young talent to survive.” Specifically, he asserted that “if you start your own project, it’s extremely difficult to get the minimum for production to buy the fabrics, to launch things, to do all the paperwork, and so on.” With that in mind, “We want to start something where we will give chances to talents, not just young talents.” The first offering from this venture made its debut on Thursday by way of an apparent Vetements sub-brand called VMTNTS.
The launch of the new brand is interesting not because of the offerings, themselves, which are reminiscent in many ways of Vetements’ own wares, but in connection with the Gvasalias’ apparent quest to build out a fashion group of their own to potentially rival the likes of the industry’s established conglomerates. This falls in line with a larger group-building trend that is already running through the industry, with the likes of Renzo Rosso and Remo Ruffini, for instance, bulking up their offerings in an aim to build out out bigger consortiums of brands, and reap the benefits of being bigger (i.e., boosted revenues, brand diversification, increased synergies, shared resources, etc.). Prada is also reportedly looking to add another name to its roster in an attempt to give its failed group-building efforts from the 1990s another go.
Chances are, the Gvasalia Family Foundation will not rival the luxury powerhouses that are LVMH, Kering, and co. any time soon (if ever), and if anything, would more realistically look something like Farfetch-owned New Guards Group, which operates by “providing the resources and expertise to transform early stage brands into profitable, high growth businesses, driving rapid, profitable growth.” It currently maintains stakes in and/or licensing deals with Marcelo Burlon County of Milan, Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh, Palm Angels, Unravel Project, Heron Preston, A Plan Application, Alanui, and Kirin by Peggy Gou.
The launch of VTMNTS also striking, as it comes two months after TFL exclusively reported that Vetements was the latest in a string of fashion – and non-fashion – companies that are adopting new trademarks, in many cases, by dropping vowels, and in most instances, as a way for new brands to avoid running into confusingly similar trademarks that are already in use by other entities.
On the heels of British asset manager Standard Life Aberdeen changing its name to “ABRDN PLC,” and abandoning the letter “e” in what Reuters called a “phone-text fashion as part of a plan to modernize its brand,” TFL reported that another potential rebrand – or better yet, sub-brand – appeared to be quietly playing out elsewhere in the market, as Vetements had begun filing trademark applications in April 2020 for its name minus the vowels. Vetements Group AG filed upwards of 25 different trademark applications for registration between April 2020 and February 2021 with intellectual property offices in the U.S., Italy, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, the European Union, and Switzerland, among other places, for the VTMNTS mark for use on everything from garments and accessories, and retail store services to fragrances, eyewear, and jewelry.
More recently, the company doubled-down on its application-filing spree by lodging applications for registration for VTMNTS – in both as plain word mark and in a stylized format – with trademark offices in Switzerland and Germany, with the most recent filings coming in June 2021 for fragrances, eyewear, jewelry, leather goods, apparel, and retail services.
While the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (“USPTO”) has not yet issued registrations for brand’s various VTMNTS marks, those applications have faced far less substantive pushback from the trademark body than the ones the Vetements has lodged in the past for its name for use on apparel and related products and services. As TFL previously reported, at least one USPTO examining attorney preliminarily refused to register “Vetements” for use on clothing, as well as for related retail store services. According to the examining attorney, when used on apparel, the mark “merely describes a feature or a characteristic of [Vetements’] goods,” and thus, is not registrable.