Monday, October 2, 2023
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    Raf Simons Is Shuttering His Namesake Brand

    In a surprise announcement, Raf Simons, the Belgian fashion superstar and co-creative director of Prada, stated that he is shuttering his namesake brand. “I lack the words to share how proud I am of all that we have achieved,” he wrote in an Instagram post on Monday. The Spring-Summer 2023 show held in London in October will be the brand’s last. “I am grateful for the incredible support from my team, from my collaborators, from the press and buyers, from my friends and family, and from our devoted fans and loyal followers,” said Simons.

    And what a following he had. Though Raf Simons (the designer) outpaced Raf Simons (the brand) in impact and influence in recent years, it is frankly hard to imagine a men’s fashion landscape without his biannual dispatches from the culty corners of youth culture. Joy Division and Sonic Youth, Christian F. and Blade Runner, Sterling Ruby and Robert Mapplethorpe, underground raves and, recently, the flower power hippie movement: all provided ample conceptual and graphic inspiration. Founded in Antwerp in 1995, the line had a strong insider following as well as broad pop cultural relevance; it was a hit in the art world from the jump and eventually in the hip-hop community. The 2017 song “RAF” by A$AP Mob is a love letter by some of his biggest fans: Playboi Carti, Quavo, Lil Uzi Vert, Frank Ocean, and A$AP Rocky, who often refers to Simons as his father.

    Simons did not detail exactly why he is closing his line, though he has long expressed frustration with the relentless pace of the modern fashion system. At Christian Dior, which he helmed from 2012 to 2015, Simons was responsible for six shows a year, in addition to his Antwerp-based line. As he told Cathy Horyn at the time, with such a schedule, “you have no incubation time for ideas, and incubation time is very important.” He joined Prada in 2020; there, he and Miuccia Prada are responsible for at least four collections per year. Perhaps Simons, an art enthusiast known to be protective of his personal life, felt it was time to focus his energies.

    Or perhaps he is acknowledging commercial realities. Anecdotally, Raf heads appear to have followed him to Prada, where Simons has brought his signature oversized outerwear silhouettes and boyish underpinnings. Meanwhile, a new generation of fashion enthusiasts have clamored for archival pieces from significant Raf Simons collections, like Fall-Winter 2001’s “Riot Riot Riot,” with certain pieces going for tens of thousands of dollars on the secondary market. Last year, Simons capitalized on this frenzy by re-issuing 100 pieces from the brand’s archive. But garments from recent runway collections have been harder to find in stores—and, Kyle Kuzma’s oversized pink sweater aside, scarcely seen on the street.

    For now, Simons’s future seems to lie with Prada, in the homewares he has been designing with Danish textile brand Kvadrat, and in his enduring relationship with the art world. “Thank you all, for believing in our vision and for believing in me,” said Simons’ statement in closing. As of writing, a small selection of Raf Simons pieces remain available on the brand’s website.

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