Raf Simons will be closing the doors to his eponymous menswear label after three decades.
The Belgian fashion designer broke the unexpected news on Instagram today. He announced that the 2023 Spring/Summer collection, which was unveiled last month, would be its last, calling it the “conclusion of an extraordinary 27 year journey.”
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“I lack the words to share how proud I am of all we achieved,” he wrote, expressing his gratitude to everyone who supported the brand. “Thank you all, for believing in our vision and for believing in me.”
The top of the post also contained cryptic phrases that allude to important moments and inspirations to the brand. “1995,” the date of its debut in Milan; “Alda & Jacque,” the name of Simons’ parents; and “station to station,” a David Bowie album and song. “Memory wear,” which heads the list, is a less direct reference, but it might reflect the brand’s ethos as a whole. It’s not so much about nostalgia—though that has figured in as well, especially with the last collection being ’80s-inspired—but a reverence for youth culture and boyhood, allowing the brand to crystalize a zeitgeist with each piece like a memory capsule.
It’s hard to understate how influential the brand has been, and how it shaped and influenced both menswear and street fashion in general—pushing them to the relevancy they have today. Despite being a relatively small Antwerp-based brand, it was able to compete with major fashion houses by constantly innovating and tapping into various subcultures.
In the same way a radical and groundbreaking 1989 Maison Margiela show incited Simons to become a fashion designer, Raf Simons shows have influenced designers all over the globe. The late Virgil Abloh described to Vogue how Simons is able to “embody more than an aesthetic” with his work, saying, “I take that as inspiration in designing my own collection.”
“What drew me to his work was his intellectualized view of current culture. His approach is so reality-based. His early work is social commentary on being young, and that approach to fashion resonates with me the most.”
In 2020, Simons joined Miuccia Prada as Prada’s co-creative director. While the announcement is bittersweet for fans everywhere, at least there is some comfort in knowing that this doesn’t mean an end to Simons’ fashion career and legacy.
And as for the brand, it is, at the very least, a dignified exit—instead of hollowing itself out to drag out a slow end and petering relevance like other designer labels.
Featured photo by ANGELA WEISS / AFP
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