The Minimal Approach of Vince
By Thomas Sweeney
Photographed by Hanna Tveite
Since its launch in 2002, the casual-luxury brand Vince has been ground zero for meticulously scaled-back staples—the kind that exacting minimalists dream of and can never seem to find elsewhere. Still headquartered in Southern California, and newly under the creative direction of Caroline Belhumeur (who's had stints at Calvin Klein and Theory), the label is now growing ambitiously beyond its cozy-knitwear roots, all while keeping its trademark commitment to quality, simplicity, and ease of wear.
For Spring 2018, Belhumeur presents a deftly edited range of updated basics with a certain untucked confidence about them. Sculptural outerwear and second-skin bodysuits mingle with butter-soft tees and no-fuss drawstring trousers, imagined in tactile fabrics that are made to last. Refined effortlessness, one could say, is still Vince's stock-in-trade.
If this season is any indication, Belhumeur has, perhaps wisely, insisted on returning the brand to its SoCal origins. Oceanfront living appears to be the central inspiration; colors like Coastal Blue and Optic White abound, as do rose-quartz and sand tones. Neat-as-a-pin cotton-poplin and linen basics, vaguely reminiscent of Georgia O'Keeffe's, set a serene and studied top note.
For Spring 2018, Vince returns to its SoCal origins, with oceanfront living as the central inspiration.
Belhumeur's "Utility" tunic and swing-front pullover shirt, both cut from a white Japanese cotton poplin, are but two standout examples of this. The former, worn here on Liisa Winkler as a shirtdress, slips on with an oversized relaxedness, and sports four spacious pockets (two patch, two on-seam) that support its utilitarian-minded name. The latter fits in a similar vein, and has a pleated back yoke that lends surprise dimension when the garment is viewed in profile. These may be the minimalist beachcomber's new essentials.
From there, Belhumeur moves into off-white territory with passages in light neutral shades that evoke L.A.'s mid-century-modern structures. They include a chalk-toned patch-pocket "Utility" jacket (worn here as if it were a denim shirt) and a pima-cotton tee (one of Vince's mainstays) in Buttercream, a shade that pairs seamlessly with Optic White pieces like the side-slit, tie-front culotte.
An inky Coastal Blue, which looks almost black at first glance, is also integral to Belhumeur's seaside landscape. It works swimmingly on a languid Italian-satin trench with storm flaps and buckled cuffs, as well as on a maillot-shaped bodysuit. Black itself appears on a good many pima-cotton and wool basics (crewneck tops, ribbed leggings, scoop-neck tanks), cementing the anonymous aesthetic for which Vince is known.
By revisiting Vince's Golden Coast beginnings straight away, Belhumeur smartly puts herself through something of a palette-cleansing refresher course. The resulting look—clean lines, earthy shades, natural fabrics, layer-friendly volumes—just so happens to be a universally appealing one, primed to gain Vince its next class of devotees well beyond the California surf.