How Kim Jones Made Louis Vuitton Cool

On Thursday, Kim Jones, one of the most important designers in menswear right now, took his final bow. It was announced earlier this week that he was leaving his post as artistic men’s director at Louis Vuitton.

Since 2011, Jones has designed the French fashion house’s menswear collections and solidified the label’s place as a leader in the conversation on what’s cool. Forging collaborations with brands like Supreme and Fragment Design, he opened up Louis Vuitton to a new loyal following of streetwear fans and, most notably, gave the label an identity that holds influence and relevance.

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

His final show, which took place at the Grand Palais, was the perfect display of his streetwear sensibility and knack for turning his exotic travels into beautiful garments. Models walked down the runway in cashmere Flankman-shorts typically worn by American rodeo pro-athletes, which he saw during a trip to Wyoming, several garments with textured prints from aerial shots he took while flying over Kenya, where he grew up, and a knit sweater with the Louis Vuitton logo reconfigured to read “Peace and Love”—perhaps his way of saying goodbye. Of course, he also paid homage to the legacy of Louis Vuitton and Marc Jacobs, who appointed Jones as style director in 2011 and artistic director of menswear after his departure, through Louis Vuitton-monogram trench coats modeled by Naomi Campbell and Kate Moss. “This was really a thank you and reference to @themarcjacobs early 2000s Vuitton and the fact that he was the one that gave me the opportunity to be @louisvuitton love you all xxx,” he wrote on Instagram.

In 1997, Jacobs became the artistic director for Louis Vuitton and introduced the luxury brand’s first ready-to-wear men’s and women’s collection. It would be the first time that Louis Vuitton, a 141-year-old fashion house that mostly catered to consumers who could afford $10,000 trunks, became synonymous with the words “innovative” and “cool.” In 2011, Jacobs famously collaborated with artist and designer Stephen Sprouse on a collection of traditional monogram handbags covered in neon graffiti spelling out the brand’s name. In a 2009 interview with The Guardian, Jacobs told reporter Sarah Mower his mindset behind rebelling: “I had been trying to follow the rules and do what everybody told me until it got to the point where I realized that’s not why I was brought here. I’m here to do something to make this young and cool and contemporary and of the moment…. It had the credibility of the street, but also this sort of style of somebody who was a fashion designer.”

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

During his 16-year tenure at Louis Vuitton, Jacobs went on to work with artists Richard Prince, Takashi Murakami, and Yayoi Kusama. Through these collaborations, he authentically was able to tap into a younger customer base.

But if Jacobs paved the way for legacy brands to put art on the runways and in stores, Jones was responsible for bringing streetwear to the storied fashion house and, arguably, high-fashion. He sent models down the runway in denim designed in collaboration with Japanese label Kapital for Spring 2013. His Spring 2015 collection, which included a bright pink bomber jacket inspired by his travels to India. His Fall 2015 line was dedicated to his favorite designer, Christopher Nemeth, who also had a knack for mixing high-fashion with street. He also designed two insanely successful collaborations with Hiroshi Fujiwara’s Fragment Design and Supreme.

The high-fashion industry might be accepting streetwear now and, in some cases, even borrowing from the culture but Louis Vuitton, under Jones, was a trailblazer in this. A genuine fan of streetwear himself, he has spoken about admiring not labels like just Helmut Lang and Alexander McQueen but also A Bathing Ape, Supreme, and Good Enough. While in college at Central Saint Martins, he worked at Gimme5, a company that introduced him to Japanese designers Jun Takahashi, Fujiwara, and Nigo. A decade before his stint at Vuitton, he mixed his love for streetwear with high-fashion fabrics on the runway for his own eponymous label from 2003 until 2008. At one point, he was even involved in Kanye’s defunct clothing label Pastelle, which helped foster his friendships with West and Off-White’s Virgil Abloh. “Some critics say that I’m just jumping on the bandwagon, but actually I’m not,” he said about his connection to streetwear, specifically Supreme, in an interview with South China Morning Post. “It’s always been part of my DNA.”

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

Jones’ strength, in addition to his obvious talent and skill in design, has been being able to captivate young consumers—without alienating Louis Vuitton’s older shoppers. According to Fashionista, LVMH’s profit increased by 23% in the first half of 2017 largely due to Louis Vuitton’s collaboration with Supreme. “We get lots of fashion kids, lots of classic men and some sort of older, cooler guys and some really traditional men, and I have to cover everybody,” he told Esquire. “There are three or four collections in the store at the same time. I’m aware that I have to dress someone who’s either 16 or 60.”

It’s unclear where Jones will go next, though there are rumors he may potentially head to Burberry, which announced last October that its designer, Christopher Bailey, was exiting the brand. But it’s undeniable that he re-invigorated Louis Vuitton’s men’s line for a younger generation. Louis Vuitton, under Jones’ direction, disrupted what luxury menswear could look like.

Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Virgil Abloh at Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway
Louis Vuitton Fall/Winter 2018 show
Image via Complex Original/Andi Elloway

 

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Every Look From Raf Simons’ Spring 2018 Collection

Last night, Raf Simons presented his Spring 2018 collection during New York Fashion Week: Men's, which took place in Chinatown underneath the Manhattan bridge. Chinese lanterns printed with artwork produced by Peter Saville, who's worked with Simons before, for New Order hung from the ceiling. Of course, there were also celebrities in attendance: ASAP Rocky, NBA champ Andre Iguodala, Raptors power forward Serge Ibaka, Julianne Moore, Jake Gyllenhaal, Ashton Sanders, and Marc Jacobs

During the show, models—both male and female—walked down the runway holding umbrellas. It was reminiscent of a scene from Blade Runner where Harrison Ford's character Deckard heads to Chinatown. There were also neon signs that spelled out the word “REPLICANT,” a reference to the fictional biorobotic androids from the 1982 sci-fi film.

“There are a lot of things that go back to my early days and why we started doing the things we did,” Simons said about the inspiration for the collection in an interview with Vogue. “So there was strong music references from the past, as you can see. But there are juxtapositions in a different way taken out of context, basically; it’s about movies (about Blade Runner, clearly), it’s about cultures sliding together—that’s the most important message for me, Asian culture and the culture of the west coming together. And you know there was a bit of new wave, punk attitude, but not aesthetically, more in the attitude like taking different kinds of things . . . good vibes . . . I wanted it to be energetic.”

The collection included 50 menswear looks—distressed tailoring, wide-brimmed hats, wide trousers, oversized sweaters, glossy raincoats, knee-high galoshes, pouches in collaboration with Eastpak, trench coats (some emblazoned with Saville's Joy Division album art), and more. All of the suiting and knitwear pieces were comprised of Merino Wool, a collaboration luxury wool authority The Woolmark Company. In addition to apparel, Simons also presented new Ddidas Detroit Runners and Adilette slides. 

Check out the entire Raf Simons Spring 2018 collection below. 

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Is Kendall Jenner a Bigger Signing for Adidas Than Kanye West?

This past week, Adidas made another power move by adding model and reality television star Kendall Jenner to the Originals family. Like it or not, the Kardashian/Jenner family is an extremely influential group whose co-signs have generated major dollars for a wide variety of brands and products for more than a decade. Jenner, who has more than 100 million combined followers on social media, was named Models.com Readers' Choice Model of the Year for 2016. She's also pitched for brand's like Estee Lauder, Calvin Klein, Marc Jacobs and recently starred in a controversial Pepsi ad.

Just how much of an impact can Kendall make with Adidas? Our own Rich “Maze” Lopez and Brendan Dunne discussed the topic on the latest episode of Full Size Run. And while it may be blasphemy to some, the thought of Kendall potentially being a bigger signing for the brand than Kanye West was brought up.

Kanye West and Kendall Jenner
Image via Kevin Winter for Getty Images

“It honestly might be. Not from a product standpoint—that remains to be seen,” said Lopez. “But from a sheer reach and influence standpoint, Kendall Jenner reaches hundreds of millions of people on her Instagram and on Twitter and on her shows. Her influence is undeniable. She has a huge following. To me, this is a massive and huge get for Adidas.”

Dunne is a little more reluctant to make the comparison, holding out for a little more information on what we can expect from the new partnership.

I want to know where they're going to take this. I'm assuming that there's not going to be a lot of product tied to her,” said Dunne. “I do wish Adidas would have come through by now with a little bit more context around what they're planning to do, but I think they can get quite a lot of money's worth by just having her throw a photo of herself in Stan Smiths on her Instagram and things like that.”

View the full episode, including discussions on Art Basel's Adidas lawsuit, Pride Month sneakers, the new Air Jordan Defining Moments Pack and much more above. Be sure to subscribe to Sole Collector on Youtube for future episodes and you can now listen to the show on the go by subscribing to Full Size Run on iTunes.

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