Peanut butter and jelly, Lennon & McCartney, Netflix & chill... There are some brand partnerships that make perfect sense, whilst others are a little more…unexpected – say, a cutting-edge fashion collective drawing design inspiration from a logistics company.
In October 2015, when a model wearing a DHL T-shirt was sent down the runway to open the Vetements Spring collection show at Paris Fashion Week, there was a moment of bemusement amongst the crowd.
At the time, Vetements was the new kid on the block. Led by Georgia-born designer brothers Demna and Guram Gvasalia, the brand – whose name simply means “clothes” in French – was breaking through with no-frills 90’s-style streetwear, oversized fits, and tongue-in-cheek nods to popular culture. The DHL vetements T-shirt was just another part of the story for a design collective that was positioning itself as “anti-establishment”, eschewing the often-snobby parts of Fashion Weeks, choosing instead to stage its shows in a gay nightclub and Chinese restaurant.
Don’t be completely fooled though – the DHL T-shirt still retailed at a cool $US250 – a price tag befitting of any premium fashion label. Despite this, it was a huge success. Stylists, influencers and celebrities accelerated the hype into full-blown hysteria. The DHL T-shirts soon sold out at retailers and online. Some desperate fans even took to DHL’s own website, where they could buy a similar T-shirt for the bargain price of US$6.50 – albeit if they placed a minimum order of 100.
So, had the world gone mad? Maybe not. “Vetements launched at a time when the fashion industry was taking itself particularly seriously,” Ailsa Miller, stylist and former fashion editor, tells us. “After the recession, there was a real shift away from fun fashion. We were overdue a resurgence of frivolity and someone who was willing to inject humor into the industry again.”
The celebration of the ordinary that was first made so joyous by the Pop Art of the 50s and 60s and then had its heyday in 80s fashion became muffled in the ensuing decades. Vetements and its yellow DHL T-shirt was bringing it back. And it didn’t stop with the T-shirt. The brand has gone on to create several Vetements x DHL capsule collections featuring socks, jumpers and raincoats, which have been snapped up by celebrities and fashionistas alike.