When I read about the new Footwear and Apparel collaboration between Vans and Kenzo starting on June 17, 2020, again I thought …. one more!
Because it is not the First… even if it is a first in the era of Felipe Oliveira Baptista as Artistic Director of Kenzo. Yes there is a long history between Vans and Kenzo when it comes to collaborations. And certainly profits. I have no issue with profits.
For sure, the collab is colourful. I won’t complain because I have become a true colour-addict lately (Harper is done with Black and White! That’s big news…). And looking at the famous SK8-Hi and Old Skool sneakers with their vulcanized sole printed with the floral graphic, I say Hurrah, that’s an amazing idea!
However, what truly bothers me is to discover they used prints taken from Kenzo’s archives. In the 21st century, fashion tends to rely too much on archives. Of course they are reassuring because they refer to a golden age and they give credit. But that is a real problem.
Imagine I’m Kenzo’s VP of Product. The brand hired a famous Artistic Director with experience and expertise a year ago. Instead of letting him create his own contemporary graphic that would install his creativity in the brand’s DNA (even if it is with the help of in-house graphic designers), I decide to use an archive print. What kind of message do I send the markets? That he is unqualified and that his name and creativity do not really matter??? I would not like to be in his shoes.
Apparently he’s worked on some apparel silhouettes. Good for him…
Some of you might think I am critical. But what’s the point in hiring a famous name if you muddle his creations with the house’s archives?
As good as it might seem to capitalise on an « Old Brand », can a brand fully assume its artistic choice and embrace its revival without looking back?
Is the 21st century’s creativity definitely not worth the trouble?
I hope not.
(Available on www. KENZO.com and certainly many others)