The Re-Edition of Helmut Lang's Extensive Archive
The genius of Helmut Lang has affected men's fashion in an unprecedented way throughout the years. Whether that be inspiring other designers to borrow from his revolutionary minimal designs, or individuals collecting his archive, that spans from 1995-2005, Helmut Lang's essence lives on. Second-hand platforms such as Grailed have furthered Helmut's importance through archiving and writing about his influence. Today, we are here to review the idea of the Helmut Lang brand presenting "re-editions" of his original designs. Essentially the Helmut Lang corporation has collected Helmut's most iconic pieces- Astro Parkas, painter jeans, bullet proof vests, etc....and have reproduced them. They will be launching the Re-Edition line Friday, September 8th with 15 pieces ranging from accessories, denim, knitwear, and outerwear. We will see more additions to the line in months to follow.
The Helmut Lang Corporation understands that the brand's legacy was only important when the brand was under Helmut Lang, so to come back into relevance they decided to re-produce Helmut's original designs. They have been paying close attention to the trends of archive pieces and their growing popularity, so they are trying to sell those designs in order to make a profit. However, them doing so seems unauthentic and more of a money grab than anything. A big part of why those pieces are special is because Helmut was still in charge and associated with his eponymous label. It was a time before it became over-run with corporate big business mentality. Helmut Lang isn't the only brand bringing back some of its storied designs, Raf Simons has seen exponential growth in his previous works from the early 2000's. His pieces from "Closer" 2003' fetch thousands of dollars, especially anything involving artist- Peter Saville. In Raf's most recent runway presentation in NYC, we saw the resurface of Saville's art on Raf's garments. Since Raf is still the head of his namesake label, it is fair that he can reinterpret his previous designs due to their current popularity (thanks, A$AP Rocky). However, for Helmut Lang, the corporation, it is following the trend of archive fashion and hoping to become relevant without having a celebrity co-sign (Travi$ Scott). One thing I am curious about with these re-editions is the quality. Helmut's original designs were manufactured in Italy and have lasted 20+ years. However, since his departure, Helmut Lang's quality has gone down the toilet, with most of the product being manufactured in China. To see these garments be cheaply made in order to make a profit is an utter disappointment and a slam to the Helmut Lang legacy.
Due to the popularity of Helmut's original designs, the prices on his most iconic pieces fetch anywhere from $1,000 to upwards of $5,000 dollars. With the re-release of certain items, I am sure they will be at a more accessible price-point than the archive pieces. Helmut's original prices at retail were very high, but considering the current state of fashion, one of the biggest growing sections is at the mid-level price point. That is why brands like Off-White have flourished because it is still high-end but accessible to a younger audience. I am sure that Helmut's re-edition pieces will be at a more reasonable price point than the archive prices (that is if they want to sell them quickly). Another pro of the re-release of these items is the mass accessibility that people will have to them. Grailed has allowed the most accessibility to Helmut's designs, however, there is still a physical barrier of actually seeing the pieces in person. Most of us were infants when Helmut Lang stores had racks lined with Astro jackets and Painter denim folded uniformly. For us now to have that in-store experience in modern day is unique. Lastly, I believe this will re-enforce Helmut's design legacy and will help draw more attention to him as a creative ahead of his time. The fact that his pieces are still largely sought after without any design updates really speaks to his quality of design. All in all, the cons outweigh the pros, but it will still be interesting to see the Helmut Lang brand roll out its "Greatest Hits."
Let's face it. Fashion is always recycled at the end of the day. Arguably, nothing new is really being produced, but does that mean everything should be exactly reproduced? We are at a current state in fashion where recycling, copying, and curation is more prevalent than ever before. Like it or not this type of thing will continue to happen as brands begin to realize that their most coveted pieces are the ones that sell. Let the war of OG Helmut vs. New Helmut begin.