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Who remembers Balmainia? I do – I watched from the Youtube sidelines and saw a man carry his child in a cross-body sling while grabbing two fistfuls of H&M x Balmain off the rack. Vetemania is different – less inclusive, more elusive, a step-up from Balmainia, but not just for the lack of baby-slinging daddies, which is an image that you won’t soon forget.

The appeal of Vetements derives from its ostensible lack of appeal. It’s distinctly un-fashion, and many times even described as ugly. Fashion needs a hero, and not a pleasant hero either. Satan is more compelling than Jesus in Milton’s Paradise Lost, Iago is always hotter than Othello. Vetements is the boy your mother hates; he says things like “you fuck'n asshole”, he purports to be turned on by danger.

One of the most compelling devices they use is the slogan. We’re in an Instagram-age in which fashion has lost its body and the most coveted clothes are those with 2D virtue. The spring/summer 2016 DHL T-shirts and “Boys!!!!!!” hoodies are hits, not because consumers are making a thoughtful choice regarding the semantics of the text across their chests, but because their peers can quickly grasp the elitist subtext. It all reads as a little emperor’s new clothes (he’s wearing a Boys!!!!!! hoodie). We often wonder who is this authentic Vetements freak engaged in subcultures and anti-social ideologies, but who spends thousands of pounds to achieve the look?

Autumn/winter 2016 brought forth more slogans. And so, given the veneration of these slogan-ed clothes, we asked a series of fashion illustrators to each interpret a slogan of their choosing from the collection. A few decided to take us up on the challenge of interpreting theirs within a narrative of fashion hysteria and fandom. We found the capacity of illustrators to inject fantasy into reality to be a good parallel of how Vetements has propelled itself into romantic aspiration from its simple, streetwear proposition. Lest we forget that beneath the hype, they are just clothes.

Text by Kinza Shenn

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