I live in a city that seems to be far-removed from the world of fashion. However, it’s also the home to the largest mall in North America. That’s the reason why many stores decide to operate here. Why not set up shop in one of the world’s biggest tourist traps?
Anyway, a Saint Laurent boutique opened up here a few months ago. Now that the pandemic restrictions have been lifted and people are traveling again (at least within the Canadian border), it will be interesting to see how well the store does. A few of its neighbors seem to be bustling with activity, and maybe Saint Laurent will follow suit. Most of the time I walk by, though, the store is empty.
I chalk that up to a disconnect between runway and reality. The brand’s creative director is busy trying to create buzz amongst skinny, gender-fluid boys and drag queens who worship 90s supermodels, while the windows of the boutiques are filled with handbags that mostly appeal to their mothers. Meanwhile, Gucci (another brand in the Kering stable), has figured out a way to bring everyone into it’s physical locations. I might not be the biggest fan of the creative direction of Gucci over the past several seasons, but I can’t deny that the brand strikes a chord with shoppers. The store always has people in it and I often see people in the mall carrying their recent purchases in Gucci shopping bags.
To me, there isn’t a lot of room in the market for another brand that appeals to emaciated teenage boys with dark circles under their eyes and too much money in their pockets. That’s why Berluti’s reboot with Kris Van Assche failed, and that’s why most of the fashion world has turned its collective nose up at Hedi Slimane’s Celine. So, I don’t understand why Saint Laurent is still courting the same customer. Do they think that those boys like to shop in the same places as their moms?
I actually like what Anthony Vaccarello has brought to Saint Laurent on the womenswear side. I even wrote a birthday profile of him a while ago where I discussed his tenure at the house and compared him to his fellow Virgo and former YSL creative director, Tom Ford. Still, his menswear has me scratching my head. I don’t know how a collection like this makes its way into production without someone in the corporate office noticing the huge disconnect between the branding messages that the heritage brand is delivering.
Something is wrong at Saint Laurent . . .