Vetements names Guram Gvasalia as new creative director
From brother to brother at Vetements: the avant-garde fashion label has named Guram Gvasalia to be its new creative director, in effect replacing his brother Demna.
“Everything has its time. It is time for me to come out! From FW 22-23 collection, I took over the brand and decided to step in as Creative Director of the house [sic],” said Guram in an emotive release.
The announcement comes as something of a surprise, as Demna had already listed himself as designer of Vetements’ most recent collection, unveiled online on the evening of November 25. Presented as a digital lookbook, the collection extolled Bitcoin billionaires and was photographed before a backdrop of greenbacks that read 'One Million Dollar'.
“In the past years there were numerous attempts to take from Vetements what has always belonged to Vetements. To protect our hard work, the codes and the DNA of Vetements, I knew what I had to do to claim back Vetements’ original birthrights,” continued Guram.
The two brothers – with Demna as designer and Guram as CEO - launched Vetements in Paris as a collective in 2014, displaying the first collections in off-beat gay clubs or storied churches. Almost overnight, the brand immediately won global attention for its blend of street styling, exaggerated volume and logo eccentricity. Backed by the buzz and influence created Vetements, Demna was appointed creative director of Balenciaga in 2015.
Born in Sukhumi, the capital of the Georgian province of Abkhazia, the Gvasalia family was forced to flee their homeland in the 1990s after Russia fomented a revolt in the region, creating a so-called new state which has never been internationally recognized.
“Vetements is more than a brand to me. Its DNA runs in my blood. But it is not the only reason why I am doing this. It’s true, I could have done it secretly as I’m a very private person. But I felt I needed to come out publicly for all the kids out there who dream of fashion but are too afraid to tell it to their parents who will not approve. To all the kids who have no means to pay for fancy design schools with its 50 to 100k yearly tuition fees. Those who need to take day jobs to pay the bills, while self-learning design at night. For those who come from underprivileged families and feel like they will never belong to this fashion world. It’s all my story. I’m a refugee. My family lost everything we had during the war. None of us spoke any language when we ran away to Europe. We lived in refugee camps,” Guram explained in the release.
“Going to fashion school was not an option for me, my parents would have never approved, as my brother was already considered to be the lost cause, and I was the only hope left to feed the family. But I want to tell everyone who reads it, none of it should define or limit your potential. It’s important to have people in your life who believe in you, but it’s nothing if you do not believe in yourself. Your background is not who you are. Where you come from is not your final destination, it is your starting point [sic],” Guram added.
In the past two years, Demna had been largely absent from Vetements, without officially relinquishing the title of creative director of the house. Sukhumi is often cited as the birthplace of classical mythological figures Castor and Pollux, the Dioscuri who were patrons of travelers and sailors, invoked to seek favorable winds.
Prior to designing his debut collection for Vetements, Guram had been the CEO of the company and moved it from Paris to Zurich, ostensibly for tax purposes. However, in today’s statement, he insisted that he has since spent two years “studying and learning the technical side – from pattern making and construction to theoretical aspect of design.”
The decision of Guram to take over the design helm at Vetements means his far more famous brother can concentrate on his main job, as creative director of Balenciaga, a key brand within the giant French luxury group Kering, which also controls Gucci and Saint Laurent.
Somewhat ironically Guram also ended his statement with an attack on big business.
“I want to make sure that all the young people out there know – you do not need to have rich parents, you do not need an investor, you do not need to sell your soul to big evil corporations – you can make it on your own. You can change your life with your own creativity and passion,” he concluded.
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