Vetements knows how to start a fashion frenzy.
The fashion brand led by Demna Gvasalia, also the creative director of Balenciaga, sprung up seemingly out of nowhere in the past year with its street-inspired take on luxury fashion. Its pared-down designs and reimaginations on classic American brands (Champion, Hanes and Reebok among them) have created a cult following of fans willing — crazy enough? — to shell out $200 for a DHL t-shirt that even Gvasalia has said he wouldn’t buy.
Now, while based in Paris, Vetements’ brand of cool has gone global. In tandem with Seoul Fashion Week, which begins October 18, Vetements hosted a garage-sale themed pop-up shop on Monday with Matches Fashion in a warehouse two hours outside of the South Korean capital. The shop was the brand’s first step into the South Korean market, and it used its Instagram influence, a strategic e-commerce partnership and a personalized collection to catapult its regional debut to success.
As the global luxury market becomes increasingly important for an industry facing lackluster growth, here’s what other brands can learn from Vetements’ approach to stepping into a new country.
Tease it on social media
On Instagram, Vetements began promoting the sale a week in advance to its 850,000 followers, using nondescript imagery and scarce detail. The posts only shared enough information to get people excited: the name of the collection, “Official Fake,” the collaborator Matches Fashion, and the time, date and city. The venue was listed as a “secret location” until a day ahead of the sale, when the address was revealed in a new Instagram post. In order to find it, fans had to follow along through a week of promotions to get the all the information.
Throughout the posts hinting at its Korean debut, Vetements focused on different elements that kept followers guessing. In one, a new Reebok sneaker launch was announced; in another, the Korean launch of the Vetements “Summer Camp” book, which is how the label refers to its seasonal collections, was teased. As the event grew closer, the “Official Fake” capsule collection surfaced on the promotions, with little detail.
“Luxury brands that have figured out a way to take something mass, like an Instagram account, and turn it into something exclusive for a specific audience are embracing social media properly,” said Rony Zeidan, founder of luxury agency RO NY. “Vetements has always felt like a club you want to be a part of, and they’re teasing that element on social.”
Find an e-commerce partner
Vetements partnered with global luxury e-commerce store Matches Fashion to carry out the logistics of the pop-up shop. The online company is hosting Vetements on the first day of its Seoul pop-up, which will also carry exclusive items from designers like Simone Rocha on other days throughout the week.
With Matches Fashion, Vetements was able to recreate items from its past four collections for the “Official Fake” capsule collection. Matches Fashion sells to 170 countries, draws up a regular Style Report with global customer data that deciphers trends revolving the 400 different designers it carries on its website, and helped carry through the commerce logistics of the pop-up.
Tailor to the customer
Rather than introducing a collection that Vetements fans in Korea have already seen, the label worked with Matches to personalize existing items from past seasons to the Korean customers’ favorite trends and typical tastes. According to Vogue, Korean fashion’s affinity for logo hoodies and reworked denim fall directly in line with Vetements existing offerings. Additionally armed with regional customer data provided by Matches, Vetements is in an even better position to strike a nerve with the collection.
The capsule collection is also a demonstration of the fashion-calendar flexibility that Gvasalia and Vetements have embraced. The label announced earlier this year that it would forego the traditional seasons of Fall and September fashion weeks in order to show new collections in June and January, beginning in 2017. With Seoul Fashion Week, Vetements is driving buzz and sales of the label in-between season in a different way.
“Everyone is diversifying, and this shows a true connection and response to an untapped customer,” said Zeidan.