For its Summer 2021 collection, Vitaly has taken a dive deep into the cosmos and brought back a range of strange and intriguing treasures. Metamaterials is an exploration of all things odd and alien — an assemblage of otherworldly objects that appear as though they’ve just been recovered from a UFO crash sight. Composed of 100% recycled stainless steel, Metamaterials represents a fascination and appreciation for the weird and the unknown, detailing themes of space, technology and alien life. Schön! spoke with some of the minds behind the label for more information about the collection and the brand.
We last talked ahead of your Spring 2021 collection. What’s changed for VITALY since then?
Since we last chatted, we’ve really just had our head down focusing on new products. We introduced our first eyewear collection, made up of three sunglasses with two more coming for the holidays. We have some incredible collaborations coming up with people we really admire. And of course we’re just working non-stop to cook up some really wild, experimental designs.
What inspired the concept for this Summer 2021 collection, which features “otherworldly objects recovered from suspected crash sites”?
Throughout the spring, there was a lot of talk in the news and across the Internet that the Pentagon would be releasing its first comprehensive report outlining everything they know about UFOs. We got really interested in what would be included in the report, and what it might reveal about our place in the universe. We started thinking about the pieces in the collection as “Metamaterials” — objects that display properties unlike anything you might find on earth. The resulting pieces that make up the Summer 2021 collection ended up looking like they were recovered from the wreckage of an alien spacecraft!
On that topic, what fascinates you about the idea of ‘extraterrestrials,’ and how did you capture that fascination in these pieces?
There’s a natural human tendency to wonder if we’re alone in the universe. Every civilisation throughout history has looked to the stars and asked very similar questions, so we knew that our fascination was something relatable and age-old. We wanted the collection to help people envision a world where first contact had already been made. If visitors did come from a faraway world, what would they look like? How would they act? What sort of technology would they have? We tried to envision this through new jewellery that looks like twisted metal, alien-forms and geometric structures.
The first drop of this collection was the Retract Ring. Why did you select this piece as the first release? What does it say about the collection as a whole?
The Retract ring is our first fingertip ring, and it has this otherworldly, alien appearance. When people put it on, it’s like they transform—they start moving differently and their face shifts, like the piece has taken them over. It’s very surreal to watch, and we wanted to start the collection off with this piece because of the deep physical reaction we witnessed in people during all of our product testing and photoshoots.
Can you introduce us to the photos that accompany this campaign? What were you looking to embody with these images?
Our seasonal campaign, which was shot by the very talented Steph Verschuren, imagines a group of visitors making a trip through deep space only to end up under observation in a research laboratory. Portions of the campaign were shot on a depth-camera, which was a reference to the well-known infrared dash-cam footage of UFOs captured by military aircrafts.
What defines a VITALY wearer?
We like to think that the Vitaly wearer sees themselves as a bit otherworldly, not unlike the visitors portrayed in the seasonal campaign. We try to create pieces that allow our wearers to express themselves in a way that feels true to them, whether or not they consider earth their home [laughs].
Celebs from Bad Bunny and Lil Nas X to Olivia Rodrigo have been seen wearing VITALY designs. What does this mean to you as a brand, and why do you think more and more celebrities are gravitating toward your work?
Over the past few years we’ve really tried to diverge from the pack and carve out our own path. Our design practice has become increasingly experimental, and we are very driven to push boundaries with our designs. Celebrities like Bad Bunny, Lil Nas X, Willow Smith and Machine Gun Kelly are all about upsetting convention, so we feel like we share a similar mind-set with them. We’ve been incredibly excited to see them gravitating towards the pieces.
What else is upcoming for VITALY?
We’re currently developing a collection of homewares that stays true to our design aesthetic that we think is very, very cool. We also can’t wait to show everyone some of the collaborations we’ve been working on over the past year. Other than that, we’re still just looking up at the stars wondering who else is out there.
photography. Steph Verschuren
fashion. Steph Major
creative direction. Zack Vitiello
models. Nyabel @ Sutherland Models Inc, Teiki @ DULCEDO Models, Steven @ Plutino Models + Nikita @ Want Management
editorial film. Joe Cornfield
art direction + set design. Jay Nugent + Primera Ng
hair. Maria Hatzis
make up. Steph George
nails. Lisa Kolmakova
design lead. Shane Vitaly Foran
production + casting. Scott Mc Donald
gaffer. Brian Ji
photography assistant. Dexter Da Silva
fashion assistant. Shira Hershkop + Kaylah Wilson