Are brands like Vetements and Balnciaga, and even stars like Lady Gaga, at the brave new frontier of twenty first century fashion?Wikimedia Commons

Fashion loves to surprise us – it can make a faux-pas a vrai-pas and encourage us to wear items that we might only ever have previously found our grandma picking out in a charity shop. This became clear with the ‘ugly shoe’ trend which exploded during the Autumn-Winter 2017 fashion weeks, epitomised by the Balenciaga platform croc. Yes, you heard me. Crocs had their high fashion moment.

So how do we define what is, and what isn’t, ‘high fashion’? This is a question which comes to mind when perusing through Vetements’ new Spring-Summer 2018 ready-to-wear collection. Some of the most notable, standout items in the new assortment feature reproductions of the DHL delivery company logo. This idea follows from the iconic DHL t-shirt featured in a 2016 show. Now, the yellow and red brand colours have been applied to items from socks and hoodies to t-shirts and skirts. We recognise the colours and, of course, the logo, as the hallmarks of the uniforms of DHL couriers – but they definitely don’t seem to fit naturally into how we are prone to imagine ‘high fashion’. But this is exactly where we are wrong. Vetements is playing a game, and with this mis-perception we are falling right into its trap. By masking luxury pieces, with luxury price tags (one of these hoodies costs £2,235) in a low fashion disguise, Vetements seeks to question what fashion really is, what it means, and why who wears a particular garment can change its connotations so dramatically.

Vetements has been described as a ‘tongue-in-cheek design collective’ by luxury retailer mytheresa.com, and the creative director, Demna Gvasalia, has been playing with tradition since the foundation of the brand in 2009. Picking their models straight off the streets of Zurich and hosting their fashion shows at flea markets, Vetements has always been pushing the boundaries and challenging conventions. But the relatively young age of their brand signifies that perhaps the fashion world hasn’t been ready for them until now.

Vetements has been described as a ‘tongue-in-cheek design collective’

With street fashion becoming high fashion, A-listers sporting Champion hoodies and Supreme collaborating with Louis Vuitton, the dramatic merger between what might initially seem to be the two opposing ends of the fashion spectrum is a relatively recent phenomenon.

Gvasalia appears keen to create a high fashion look that represents the public, a ‘look of the people’, if you will. The recent collection was photographed by the designer himself, modelled by local people, rather than professional models, who were given the creative freedom to wear whatever they wanted from the collection. This was an important part of the project for Gvasalia, as he explained in an interview with Vogue: “everyone is choosy about what they want to wear; it was quite a big project with a huge range of clothes. And I showed everyone their photographs to be sure they liked them.”

#VETEMENTSxDHL SUMMER 2018 www.riccardiboston.com @riccardiboston

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Through his innovative approach, Gvasalia is taking a huge step forward in terms of challenging what we conceive to be luxury fashion. It’s no wonder his brand has been referred to as ‘avant-garde’ by several fashion magazines.

By playing with features such as the use of recognizable, every day logos including those of DHL and UMBRO (via his collaboration with the latter brand), Gvasalia suggests that actually, fashion is whatever you make of it. Fashion isn’t just about the garments themselves, but about who wears them, how they wear them, and what they means to them. So if you want to ride the wave of cutting edge fashion, hop online to the DHL website and order yourself some merchandise – you might just save yourself £450 by skipping the Vetements version, and be the most on-trend student around.

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