When Selena Gomez was spotted at a Los Angeles airport this month wearing a slouchy red hoodie, articles extolling the look popped up everywhere from Us Weekly to Vogue. Why? This wasn’t just any old flight-prime hoodie. It was a sold-out-everywhere, $735 hoodie from Parisian It label Vetements — with $665 track pants to match.
Over the past year, Vetements — which simply means “clothing” in French — has become a favorite among A-listers and fashion folk, with its lead designer, Demna Gvasalia, 34, ascending from unknown to become a celebrity in his own right. His hallmark: a cotton-jersey hoodie in a supersize silhouette intended to drip off the body.
“It’s the sweatshirt of the moment,” says a sales associate at Barneys’ Madison Avenue flagship, which currently offers different versions of the indie brand’s hooded signature in the men’s department, even though it’s technically a women’s piece.
The hoodie certainly has crossover appeal. Both Kanye West and Rihanna have made headlines rocking identical Vetements sweatshirts — and retailers can’t seem to keep any of them around even though the cheapest version essentially costs $800 including tax.
Barneys executive vice president Tom Kalenderian says the hoodies are “selling at the speed of light,” and key pieces from Vetements have sold out at online portals like Net-a-Porter, Totokaelo and Matches Fashion. (A rep for the Paris-based label declined to comment on sales specifics.)
Due to limited distribution stateside this season, Barneys is currently the only brick-and-mortar store in New York City with surviving stock. That includes an $845 gray variant that, like Selena’s, features an embroidered riff on the cursive Champion logo, as well as a “Titanic”-themed version ($885), emblazoned with an image of Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet and seen on many an editor, buyer, blogger and stylist during fashion month.
“I love the comfy fit, the cut and the details on the hoodie,” says Milan-based blogger Patricia Manfield, a 23-year-old street-style favorite who owns the Champion-inspired hoodie in green. That particular style is 180-degree reversible: the hood can be flipped to either side of the neck opening, allowing you to wear it forward or backward (thus eradicating the distinction). Other variations boast exaggerated sleeves, artfully deconstructed stitching and shapes cropped ever so slightly.
For aficionados like Manfield, it’s these outside-the-box design tweaks that make all the difference. “[Vetements] changed the perception of normal pieces of clothing that we wear every day,” she says. “Streetwear influences the runway nowadays, and [it] is fast becoming the new high fashion.”
Blogger-turned-designer Chiara Ferragni agrees.
“You pay for the idea and the attention to details,” says the 28-year-old Italian, who was snapped across the four international fashion weeks working several different Vetements sweatshirts.
“Whether it’s the extremely long sleeves or the wider shoulders, I feel like I am wearing a special hoodie,” she continues. “It’s not just about having a hoodie I like, but rather that it has something special quality-wise.”
Still, there are those even in fashion who question the logic of burning $800 on what’s essentially something you can score for a fraction of the price at your local Sports Authority, where an old-school Champion hoodie will set you back $28. In a recent vogue.com article — aptly titled “How Much Should You Pay for a Hoodie?” — the glossy’s market editor Emma Morrison offered a grounded assessment.
“I always prefer the $10 hoodie. As much as I love the fashion iteration, it’s starting to feel ridiculous to pay so much money for a revision of a classic,” she concluded. “At the end of the day, it is so much cooler to pull off the real deal. Who wants to be precious with something that is inherently supposed to be so casual?”
Morrison isn’t the only insider shunning streetwear extravagances.
“Personally, I wouldn’t [pay that much for a hoodie]. I don’t think most people would,” says Lisa Arbetter, editor-in-chief at StyleWatch. Nevertheless, the East Village resident says she appreciates Gvasalia’s irreverent, eye-opening approach — and would even consider splurging on a pair of the label’s equally popular $1,395 jeans.
“I’m happy [Vetements] exists,” she says. “Hearing people talk about it and seeing what they put down the runway, it’s so interesting the way they’re subverting what we consider beautiful.”
This news has been published by title Beyoncé And Rihanna Have Rocked This Local Streetwear Brand (and So Can You)
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