Defining
the grey area
between
black and white
ABOUT
THE SUCCES OF OFF WHITE IS ANYTHING BUT IRONIC
Italian streetwear and luxury fashion label Off-White is suddenly on everyone's radar without people even noticing.
The craze started with an industrial yellow belt that looked a lot like the police's caution tape, followed by the brand releasing a bag with a binder clip on it.
Then, the noise grew louder as Off-White launched a pair of knee-high boots explicitly labeled For Walking.
Off-White Is Now The Most Popular Brand In The World, beating Gucci And Balenciaga
“I THINK THE REASON WHY OFF WHITE EXISTS IS TO MODERNIZE FASHION”
THE MAN BEHIND THE BRAND: VIRGIL ABLOH
A TRUE RENAISSANCE MAN
He later got into deejaying (he recently produced a track called Orange), and somehow became Donda's art director (Kanye West's creative agency).
Now he leads a double life, at the helm of Louis Vuitton menswear while managing his own brand Off-White.
In a word, he is an artist – someone who demonstrates a superior level of engagement in creation of art. However, he cannot be further classified into just one type of artist.
By profession, Virgil is an architect who owned
a retail gallery before dabbling into fashion design with his first clothing line—that can be accurately called a social experiment—Pyrex Vision.
For me, as I was growing up,
I studied architecture, I was into music, and I always felt that there was a gap between the things that I loved and consumed and who made them and how they made them.
THE BIRTH OF THE BRAND
FROM SOCIAL EXPERIMENT TO THE WORLD MOST WANTED BRAND
Back in 2012, Virgil Abloh made his first foray into high fashion, with a small collection of Champion tees, hoodies, basketball shorts, socks and flannel shirts, plastered in collegiate lettering and Renaissance artwork.
Pyrex Vision seemingly came out of nowhere and became one of the hottest streetwear brands out now. Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.
There was a rather scandalous reveal, when it later emerged that Virgil was just slapping his logo onto old Ralph Lauren shirts and charging $550.
The social experiment that was Pyrex became the ashes Off-White rose from
Today Virgil Abloh is cultivating a sort
of avant-garde and cult apparel that merges streetwear culture with premium fashion, like reaching a common ground between the two extremes.
"What I’m trying to do is between Supreme and Celine"
Five years into the establishment, the brand successfully captures the streetwear scene because it has the street and people at its core. OFF-WHITE gives the youth freedom to style themselves instead of dictating who the wearer should be. In Abloh’s dictionary, the younger generation represents a new set of needs and styles. They demand autonomy in terms of what they want to wear and how they mix and match.
I look at culture, and I see what the kids around me are wearing, and I see a particular style. I understand the space between fashion and streetwear.Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.
LOGOTYPE
ABLOH HAS PUT THE STREET TO WORK FOR HIM
Abloh’s most noteworthy offering comes in the form of his brand’s logo – the diagonal line motif that is not in any way exclusive to Off-White. It is the graphic you find on cross-walks and on road signs – and have found there for many decades now, certainly long before Off-White’s inception
As a brand builder, Abloh did something very interesting here. Instead of utilizing a distinctive brand-identifying logo, he chose one that is completely unoriginal.
Off-White’s designs—brash and loud and graphic, branded with black-and-white diagonal stripes you can recognize from 30 yards away—are everywhere.
But what is the big idea behind these stripes? The space between white and black lines create a grey area which is sypbolic for the brand!
"I don't have to choose between high fashion or streetwear. My brand reminds me that it doesn't have to fit in a box. It can just be in a grey area"
NEW LOGOTYPE
UPDATED IDENTITY, MISCELLANEOUS IMAGES
In 2018 Diet Prada accused Abloh of plagiarism, revealed in an Instagram post that the logo could possibly be taken signage that was designed in 1965 by UK-based design group Kinneier, Calvert & Associates and previously used at Glasgow Airport.
The post also called to question the origins of the diagonal stripes, another signature Off-White monogram, which appears alongside the crossed arrows logo in the airport. Diet Prada also posted a picture of Virgil Abloh with a Logo Modernism book, where an entry on the crossed arrows Glasgow Airport logo is featured.Design creates culture. Culture shapes values. Values determine the future.
After that Off white has gotten a new logo, featuring a face in the middle of two hands, with the words "Off" and "White™" above the hands.
COLLABORATIONS
"Collaboration is not
a punchline... I only collaborate with the best in each category"
I love the ability to go between different spaces and share information between them
Here are the 4 collabs that cemented Virgil Abloh’s career
OFF-WHITE x NIKE
"THE TEN"
Virgil Abloh reinvented a total of ten different models of Nike sneakers for his The Ten project, including the Air Max, Air Jordan, Blazer and VaporMax. The Off-White founder, who is a devoted fan of Michael Jordan, unveiled a line of sneakers designed around two different themes: Revealing and Ghosting.
The first, “REVEALING,” was designed to look accessible: hand-cut, open-source and reconstructed. It includes the Air Jordan I, Nike Air Max 90, Nike Air Presto, Nike Air VaporMax and Nike Blazer Mid.
The second, “GHOSTING”, was designed with translucent uppers to further the idea of revealing and unite the second set of silhouettes through common material. It includes the Converse Chuck Taylor, Nike Zoom Fly SP, Nike Air Force 1 Low, Nike React Hyperdunk 2017 and Nike Air Max 97.
It’s larger than design culture, said Abloh at the time. These 10 shoes have broken barriers in performance and style. To me, they are on the same level as the sculpture of David or the Mona [Lisa]. You can debate it all you want, but they mean something.
OFF-WHITE x LEVI’S
“PRETTY WOMEN"
It’s a shared aesthetic rooted in eccentric, thoughtful designs with streetwear as a visual language. Levi’s® Made & Crafted® has partnered with OFF-WHITE c/o Virgil Abloh for an exclusive collection of 11 silhouettes reflecting the above vision – all done through a Levi’s® lens. It is focusing on women but really embracing Abloh’s gender-neutral design approach.
"Denim as a fabric and jeans as a category are integral to a modern sense of dress. For me the idea is, you know, as long as it has two legs, they’re a pair of jeans. You can fit them. Male or female. They fit you."
The baseline of the Fall/Winter 2016 collection aesthetic is heartland Levi’s® with an emphasis on the vintage 501® look. Virgil then added his architectural-DJ take on Levi’s® classic jeans and trucker jackets by remixing them, splicing them up and adding clean, modern and contrasting colors.
OFF-WHITE X JIMMY CHOO
“PLASTIC FANTASTIC"
The Off-White c/o Jimmy Choo collaboration dropped in February 2018, after being announced in September 2017. Virgil Abloh stayed faithful to the line of his Spring/Summer 2018 collection, drawing inspiration from Lady Diana with his modern take on a pair of Nineties-style shoes. The item remained true to the two houses’ usual style: the shoes were made from a modern mix of plastic and tulle, finished with floral designs and stone details.
Inspired by Princess Diana, the collection includes 80s style quilted boots, crystal embellished stilettos wrapped in PVC, and strappy satin sandals that look like you might have bought them mere seconds ago and just forgot to take them out of the plastic bag before wearing. In a good way, of course.
"Creative dreams were fulfilled when able to combine the young exuberance of Off White and the storied elegance of Jimmy Choo."
OFF-WHITE x LOUVRE
To commemorate the “Leonardo da Vinci” exhibition and the 500th anniversary of his death, the Louvre Museum in Paris has tapped Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh™ for a special ready-to-wear capsule collection in december 2019
I was fascinated with Da Vinci early on - I was in my senior year at Wisconsin, taking an art class. I was super interested not only by his artworks but also by the influence he had in many disciplines besides art: science, engineering, architecture... To me, he symbolizes everything the Renaissance was
Typical Off-White markings, including logo placement and diamond arrows, are intertwined with the storied paintings of one of the world’s pioneering artists on an offering of t-shirts and hoodies. Among the featured works within the capsule are Da Vinci’s Virgin and Child with Saint John the Baptist and an Angel, known as The Virgin of the Rocks, and Saint Anne, the Virgin Mary, and the Infant Jesus Playing with a Lamb, known as Saint Anne, woven with the master’s iconic drawings, including his anatomical sketches of the male form.
"I want to crash together these two worlds that are seemingly different: fashion and high art."
People Wearing "Off White™" Zine
In 2020 fashion platform Warehouse Review (Amsterdam) issued zine, dedicated to OFF WHITE.
Warehouse co-founder Hanka van der Voet has been formulating ideas for the zine since summer 2019, when she began photographing people wearing Off-White™’s recognizable designs on the street.
After posting these images to her Instagram Stories, van der Voet started to accumulate images through the #peoplewearingoffwhite hashtag, which soon swelled to a collection of over 200 images. It also sparked van der Voet’s fascination with Abloh and the lack of mainstream fashion media contextualisation for the phenomenon of his ever-present logos.
150 copies of the zine launched this week at Amsterdam’s San Serriffe and Warehouse’s website, but none are available to purchase. Instead, they can be obtained through swapping — interested parties can offer anything they deem trade-worthy.
WHAT’S NEXT?
What surprises to expect from the most controversial designer of modern times?
Abloh has said it takes him 10 minutes to come up with many of his designs. He’s also said he wants to help Apple design the next iPhone. His aesthetic interests are simplicity and efficiency, his commercial interests are what could be called economically avant-garde — dramatic, cartoonish, garish markups of basic items marketed primarily to kids, by celebrities, turning unattainability into a sport and pastime.
"I feel like I'm figuring things out, but I don't feel accomplished yet. I still feel like I'm an intern."
SOURCES
SOURCES
SOURCES
SOURCES
SOURCES
SOURCES
https://theblueprint.ru/fashion/industry/virgil-abloh-off-white
http://web.pdx.edu/~allstott/hypebeasthistory/offwhite.html
https://www.gq.ru/style/facts-off-white
https://www.34st.com/article/2020/06/off-white-brand-success-fashion-designer-culture-relevance
https://www.buro247.ru/news/fashion/25-jul-2020-off-white-manual-zine.html
https://www.vogue.com/article/virgil-abloh-biography-career-timeline
http://faqindecor.com/v-chjom-fenomen-brenda-ulichnoj-odezhdy-off-white-i-kakoj-vyshla-ego-kollaboracija-s-luvrom/
https://www.stylist.co.uk/fashion/ikea-x-off-white-collaboration-where-to-buy/319889
https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2018/10/30/18027074/off-white-timeline-history-luxury-streetwear-virgil-abloh
https://www.artpartner.com/artists/style/suzanne-koller/archive/story/m-le-monde-virgil-abloh-2/
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
“FOR EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES ONLY”
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