We’re riding the skin of the Vetements bubble, which will pop at any moment because popular culture is going to pop at any moment, imploding, swallowing itself, becoming such a parody of itself that it is not itself: it will become nothing. I mused about this a few weeks ago in reflecting on moods of Spring 2017 menswear: when it is high end to brand ourselves with the mark of the low end, where does that leave the low end? What happens when the sartorial become advertorial? Is it sadvertorial? We will see.
As we wait, we’ll watch the muted scene play in Eastern Europe through characters like Lotta Volkova, a nü fashion folk hero (or villain) who is the styling mind behind both Vetements and Balenciaga, two brands who make you cringe with glee, challenging you to understand their fashion. Volkova recently spoke with 032c about her work, clothing oneself and others, and what makes Vetements. The results are fascinating.
First off, Volkova makes it known that she is not a young person but she is a technophile, an Internet era person with a foot into history. That’s where her aesthetic is coming from: she is responding to our mix and match era, where everyone has the same parts but it’s up to you to make something out of them.
Obviously, there are no subcultures to be discovered anymore, at least not in the Western world. It’s more about the remix of information. Kids today — the new generation — they think in different ways. They don’t even have the knowledge of what a subculture is. It is not relevant to them. If they want to wear a punk shirt, that doesn’t mean that they have to listen to punk music or have a political point of view. They don’t have that mentality. In my generation, when we were grunge, we were grunge. It was a mindset. That’s why today I am so interested in the different codes of social uniforms.
Like Vetements, I love and I hate that way of thinking. It’s so antithetical to Western ideas of thought and “how you should be.” I want to embrace it with my teeth.
The irony here (And there is lots to go around. Grab a glass.) that this rebellious nature is based in the institution. Like the brands these brands co-opt and “remix,” their existence, the fact that mega-brands exist, is reason for us to exist. To Volkova, we need that oppression, we need the institution of Instagram in order to showcase our individual brilliance via Instagram. When asked if she is “against” or wants to be “beat” the system, this is what she had to say.
No, not at all. We need the system. We just want to do what we enjoy doing. The system helps us do that.
Basically, the dream is to be bankrolled, to be sponsored: the nü goal is to be a billboard, to do what you do within the confines of DHL emblazoned on your chest or Juicy jeweled onto your ass. If some brand wants to pay you, great. You need to do you.
And that is the bizarre catch of the future: when we are all brands, you need a brand to help your brand. I know this all to well, running a starving magazine that we’re trying to make a thing. How can we do that? Getting swiped up by someone with money, otherwise known as a brand or the system: that’s how. Try as we might to rebel from that devil, us (poors) need that devil to succeed. We have to shake our ass enough to get attention, to get noticed, and then we can do what we can do on someone else’s dime In fact that’s a part of the Vetements identity, according to Volkova as this is how she would brand their brand.
Fun clothes, good products. Clothes for men and women of all different ages. I like the diversity of it. The fact that we think of different stereotypes creates this diversity.
“Good products.” That stings. Not clothing: products, based in “different” stereotypes.
Welcome to the remixed future, where nothing is new and we’re all sponsored by a brand, chipping away at that which oppresses us in order to get our oppressors to love us for making fun of them.
Long live the new flesh.