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Visvim: The strange appeal of inauthentic authenticity

A pebble is an authentic pebble. A tree is authentically a tree. But in a world where every flat white needs a narrative, it’s not surprising the meaning of the word ‘authentic’ has been refitted to feed the demands of the marketing landscape.

Authenticity is now a byword for ‘not mass produced’. A false equivalence of course, as even mass produced stuff is authentically mass produced. But so what? People no longer care about stupid things like the meaning of words.

Visvim is probably one of the most authentic brands in the world. Certainly the most authentic brand that goes by a meaningless name (look it up) and sells shirts with authentically pre-ripped elbows.

The hypocrisy of authenticity through the lens of pre-weathered clothing is clear. The patina, the scuffs, the scrapes and rips weren’t acquired through wear; the garment just came like that. So what difference does it make whether this artifice was carried out en masse in a Portuguese factory, or by the Yanomami people of Venezuela? It’s still phoney. Forged evidence of a life unlived.

This Visvim shirt has undergone what is termed a ‘crash’ process. Over at retailer Haven they explain, “the shirt features intricate distressing, damage and hand patched repairs throughout.”
“Crash process?” I know in some circles Visvim is worshipped. I’ve got a piece or two myself. But come on. “Intricate distressing?” Who’s buying this flimflam?

As it turns out a few people are. Only one of the three colour-ways remain at Haven. And at £1262? That’s a party I’m not invited to.


Yeah, yeah, I know. Visvim’s really cool and handcrafted etc… etc… I do get it. But it’s possible for brand adoration to stifle common sense. (So speaks a guy with a cupboard full of ridiculous Comme des Garçons blazers.) I’m just calling into question the ambiguity around the word authentic. Through liberal and sloppy use, for many, it’s now seen as short-hand for good. Which leads to brands selling ripped sleeved shirts for over a grand. Either figuratively or literally, I don’t buy it.

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