What Happened: Vetements has unveiled the launch of its new brand: Secret Project. The announcement was accompanied by a new Instagram account, @vetements_secret_project (currently private), and a teaser video with clips of random mega-cities, barcodes, and crowds that ends with a launch date reveal of July 22, 2021. The initiative is a collective brand — fully separate from Vetements — which takes inspiration from traditional menswear and sartorial tailoring while catering to all genders.
The new project aims to shake up the current state of an industry dominated by major players by providing talents of all ages with mentoring, technical development, production, supply chains, distribution, and financial support, according to Guran Gvasalia, the CEO of Vetements. The Zurich-based fashion brand Vetements was founded by the Georgian designer Demna Gvasalia and his brother Guram in 2014.
The Jing Take: In 2014, Demna Gvasalia brought Eastern European street culture onto the global fashion stage and incited an “anti-fashion” revolution in the industry. Bold pieces like DHL logoed T-shirts instantly gained the attention of celebrities, KOLs, and digital native consumers who showcased their purchases online, further boosting label awareness.
In just three years, the brand achieved $120 million in revenue. Still, it was precisely that over-exposure that killed the niche brand. In March of 2018, Highsnobiety published a report quoting an anonymous North American retailer, who said, “from a retail perspective, Vetements is completely dead.”
However, the Georgian gem is not dead yet, as today’s newness-seeking Gen Zers allow hype brands to succeed quickly. But, like other similar labels, within a few years, when the momentum lags and young consumers become fatigued by the same aesthetic, they are in trouble. Off-White and others have been Chinese buyer favorites. But in China’s dynamic local market, the adoption rate of these new brands is rapid. Gen Zers want emerging niche labels to express their individuality, but they lack loyalty and quickly turn to the next brand in line.
The challenges for hype labels are numerous. In the absence of direct-to-consumer channels, they often fail to create strong bonds with consumers and secure loyalty. Additionally, they lack quality storytelling, not allowing them to connect with buyers emotionally. And a lack of resources and structure hinders growth, often leading to delayed order fulfillment, poor product quality, and limited after-sale service. Only by resolving these issues can niche brands keep from fading away.
The Jing Take reports on a piece of the leading news and presents our editorial team’s analysis of the key implications for the luxury industry. In the recurring column, we analyze everything from product drops and mergers to heated debate sprouting on Chinese social media.