Like it or not, VLONE is back. The new owners of the enigmatic, almost inexplicably popular streetwear label are aiming to finally bring it mainstream success but, one has to wonder, is VLONE v late to the party?
The story of VLONE is almost more interesting than the clothes themselves.
Founded in 2011 by two members of A$AP Mob, A$AP Bari and A$AP K, VLONE became extremely coveted among A$AP admirers in shockingly short succession, boosted by co-signs from influential friends like Kanye “Ye” West, Virgil Abloh, and CLOT’s Edison Chen, who helped establish VLONE’s visual presence.
The swift fame peaked in 2017 when VLONE held a runway show during Paris Fashion Week, complete with a Nike collaboration.
Bari proved nearly as toxic as VLONE was popular, however: around the same time as VLONE’s fashion show, a video of Bari reportedly engaging in sexual assault began doing the rounds online. Nike dropped the VLONE collaboration almost immediately.
It took several years for Bari to finally plea guilty to the sexual assault charges but, vile or not, his crimes never really affected VLONE’s success.
Much like, say, XXXTentacion, the awful stuff that Bari did only seemed to endear the brand’s diehards that much more.
That being said, VLONE finally cut ties with Bari for good in late 2022. Better late than never, I guess, though it a distressingly long time to remove someone who admitted committing sexual assault from the team.
“we will not partake in any irrational behavior associated or related with Jabari ‘Younglord’ Shelton,” VLONE said in an October 2022 Instagram post. “He has no authority to style himself as ‘Mr. Vlone,’ use or license VLONE — this behavior is contrary to our collective.”
VLONE’s clothing isn’t itself terribly distinct — its oeuvre typically comprises T-shirts and hoodies branded with a big orange “V” or stark, stencil-like graphic prints — but it’s got a presence similar to Anti Social Social Club insofar as it remains desirable among a certain sect of the population, whether or not it’s relevant within the industry at large.
Not that the industry is ignoring the brand: in recent years, VLONE has issued collaborations with fashion labels like Palm Angels and NEIGHBORHOOD and musicians like The Weeknd, Kodak Black, and the estate of Juice WRLD.
Indeed, enough people were buying VLONE in 2022 to make it one of the year’s most-resold clothing brands.
Either way, I’m curious if the brand’s fanbase will actually be into VLONE’s 2023 relaunch, which goes live on VLONE’s website April 21.
The new collection comprises just over two dozen individual items, mostly pretty typical VLONE fare like faded hoodies and sweatpants, but there’s also some one-off bits like a work vest that riffs on Carhartt and pre-distressed, painted jeans.
The folks behind VLONE 2.0 presumably intend for “Brick by Brick,” the title of the new drop, to reference the sentiment of building back up after starting over, but it’s also physically manifested in the transparent brick that VLONE’s dropping as part of its relaunch.
The STFO (“Sold The Fuck Out”) Brick is either the pinnacle or nadir of new VLONE — you decide.
It’s presumably a reflection of the brand’s relaunch, a so-called collector’s piece that’s destined to be more of a streetwear oddity than a long-term investment but I have a feeling that VLONE’s voracious fanbase will have some choice words regarding the brick’s mere existence.
Then again, it’ll presumably sell out instantly, so who’s to judge?