Raf Simons, Fashion’s Most Cerebral Designer, Pulls The Plug On His Namesake Label
— 22 November 2022

Raf Simons, Fashion’s Most Cerebral Designer, Pulls The Plug On His Namesake Label

— 22 November 2022
Randy Lai
Randy Lai

A month after the conclusion of his warmly received Spring-Summer 2023 show in London, Raf Simons has shocked the fashion world with an abrupt announcement that this would be his namesake label’s final collection – the denouement to a 27-year odyssey that has left the industry a more thoughtful and charming place.

The Belgian designer – whose career has variously seen him turn in star performances at Creative Director at Christian Dior (2012-2015) and Calvin Klein (2016-2018) – took to Instagram earlier today to announce the “final season of the Raf Simons fashion brand.”

“I lack the words to share how proud I am of all that we have achieved,” Simons continues in a written statement.

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“Thank you all for believing in our vision and for believing in me.”

Understandably, those with a deeply embedded love of Simons’ idiosyncratic vision of fashion (particularly menswear) have come from every corner of the internet to greet his label’s dissolution with heartfelt tributes. Samuel Hine, GQ America’s resident Fashion Writer, remarked that it was “frankly hard to imagine a men’s fashion landscape without [Simons’] biannual dispatches from the culty corners of youth culture”.

In an industry that all too often surrenders to its most elitist tendencies, Simons was synonymous with propounding a culture of clothing that celebrated youth and fringe identities. Since the founding of Raf Simons in 1995, his eponymous label has tackled all manner of niche cultures through the prism of the runway.

His industrial designer’s eye for shape and sophisticated graphic motifs – playing out against grandiose themes of post-punk music, queer photography, and cyberpunk (to name but a few) – won him a legion of fans in the 2010s, including a notable contingent of hip-hop artists, including A$AP Rocky and Quavo, who embraced Simons’ simultaneously niche-but-universal designs.

Raf Simons
A selection of men’s looks from Raf Simons Spring-Summer 2023 – the eponymous brand’s final collection.

Although Simons has not publicly explained what provoked him to shutter his own label, it’s no secret that the designer expressed frequent opposition to, as Hine puts it, “the relentless pace of the modern fashion system.” In the course of the 2014 documentary Dior and I, Simons observed how the titular brand’s demand for at least four collections per year deprived him of the “incubation time” that is essential to the creative process of fashion design.

“I think I can deal with the highest level of expectation within the business, like massive blockbuster shows [and] commercial clothes,” he said in an interview with Cathy Horyn around that time.

“But I don’t think that necessarily makes you a better designer.”

Excerpts from Simons’ seminal Spring-Summer 2002 collection, nicknamed ‘Fear Generation’. (Image credit: Grailed)

Going forward, fashionistos needn’t fret that Simons is resting upon his laurels. The conclusion of ‘Raf Simons’ the brand, means that the award-winning designer now has significantly more bandwidth to pursue the projects that he remains passionate about: including an interdisciplinary collaboration with Danish textile lab Kvadrat and, of co-creative authority over at Prada. Whatever Simons’ next steps, bet on the fact that fashion’s brain trust is most certainly paying attention.

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Randy Lai
Following 6 years in the trenches covering consumer luxury across East Asia, Randy joins Boss Hunting as the team's Commercial Editor. His work has been featured in A Collected Man, M.J. Bale, Soho Home, and the BurdaLuxury portfolio of lifestyle media titles. An ardent watch enthusiast, boozehound and sometimes-menswear dork, drop Randy a line at [email protected].


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