Helmut Lang Essentials

Though best known for his distinctly utilitarian and experimental approach to fashion, designer Helmut Lang's greatest achievement often goes unrecognized. While the designer's predilection for bondage and military uniform is well documented, it was his embrace of "everyday" fashion—most notably cotton and denim basics—that made him '90s fashion's definitive figure. Prior to Lang, the idea of an established fashion house embracing jeans, T-shirts, and simple cotton outerwear was unheard of. When brands did do so, it was likely under a diffusion line or licensing deals. Lang, however, himself obsessed with vintage Levi's and simple black jackets, made entry level cotton basics a key focus. Through his Helmut Lang Jeans imprint, premium cotton T-shirts, Italian made denim and simple outerwear were available for an extremely reasonable price point and, despite his contemporaries disdain, were a massive success. Still, when Lang sold his stake and was acquired by the Prada group, the Italian house immediately dispelled that part of the business, feeling it was too low class. The decision proved dire, and arguably started the label's quick decline and the founder's eventual resignation.

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