The Vetements/Vetememes knockoff war continues. For those of you who need a refresher, here it is: everyone is obsessed with Vetements and thinks Demna Gvasalia is the second coming of Christ, or Alexander McQueen, I can’t really tell. Anyway, they’re like the most hyped brand ever, so a really smart person whose name I don’t know, decided to capitalize on the buzz by starting a brand called Vetememes, that makes snarky Vetements ripoffs. Then, Vetements fired back with a super meta, post-fake “official knockoff” of the same design Vetememes initially copied. If you’re confused, it’s because this shit is ridiculous, but also kind of brilliant—I can’t make up my mind.
All of this leads us to today. This morning, Vetememes dropped yet another version of the now infamous raincoat, this time, with the definition of meme on the back. I honestly don’t even know why I’m writing about this. But alas, here I am, so I guess I better make it count.
According to the jacket, a meme is a “phenomenon that exists predominantly on the internet,” that “often [includes] ideas, behaviors, style, activity, media and usually trolling that spreads from person to person.” If we’re taking that definition as gospel, then Vetements itself is basically the biggest meme ever created. And that makes Gvasalia either a serious genius or someone who believes his own hype.
But the thing is, both Vetements and Vetememes are mocking the people who buy their stuff in droves, waiting online for hours until the next drop. Gvasalia’s redone Levis and Champion hoodies are supposed to be a super critical commentary on the nature of fast fashion and the absurdity of an industry that takes those same Champion hoodies, and sells them for $1,000 a pop. That means all the people who have shelled out a grand for a DHL shirt have done exactly what the brand is supposed to be making fun of. Except Vetements has also played into its own hand, debuting season after season, its own set of knockoffs—err, I mean collaborations with brands like Juicy Couture. That’s why I’m so confused when people call Gvasalia a genius. I mean, I know I literally just called him that, and I think he is—but not because he keeps presenting deconstructed suits as something new. I’d much sooner compare him to Duchamp than I would McQueen or Lagerfeld. Because at the end of the day, the brilliance of Vetements is not at all in the clothes. It’s the fact that people have gone so fucking crazy for a bunch of sweatshirts.
On the other end of this ridiculous battle is Vetememes. It’s a joke brand, that’s ripping off another brand, that’s gotten famous for knocking off everyone else. But at least they’re self-aware. I have my own feelings when it comes to profiting off someone else’s buzz or ideas—I think it’s disgusting. But they’re doing the exact same thing as Vetements, albeit in a much more obvious, and far less tasteful way. And the designers, if you can even call them that, are laughing all the way to the fucking bank as the same people who line up outside of Supreme and own every Vetements hoodie, are buying their shirts in bulk.
If I sound bitchy or overly-critical, it’s probably because I am. But there’s nothing worse than something pretending to be what it’s not. Vetements might have initially began as some sort of ironic fashion industry political commentary, but it’s become something entirely different—something it still tries to mock. Vetememes, on the other hand, might be gross, and I’m definitely sick of this weird knockoff back and forth. But in my book, Vetememes, 2 – Vetements, 0.