There are a handful of designers determining fashion’s current aesthetic and Virgil Abloh, founder of Off-White, is arguably one of them. Luxury with a sometimes-street-wear bent, Abloh is favoured by the Gigi Hadid set, but has also looked very cool on Celine Dion and Kanye West (to whom Abloh serves as a creative director). This multi-hyphenate (designer-DJ-Kanye-creative-guru) is showing his Spring 2017 collection in Paris, complete with his first line of handbags—hitting retail right off the runway. The campaign for the collection, above, explores “a provocative idea of luxury in the modern sense,” the designer explains, “You know you can buy a bag off Canal Street or from Celine just two blocks up from Canal. It questions, ‘What is luxury in the new era?’.” Below, Abloh discusses founding a brand concept beyond buzz, designing for his friends and entering the buy-now, wear-now fray.
HB: Your brand has been getting so much buzz, what has it been like to receive so much positive feedback?
It’s amazingly reassuring. This project sort of grew in a way that it was like a feeling that I had that there was a new girl that mainly is like my friends, and there’s a new guy that hasn’t been designed for yet. So for me there’s proof in the concept—just having conversations with friends and trying to sort of like whip together a brand that would work.
HB: And how would you describe that concept?
For me it’s a modernised luxury, a brand that doesn’t necessarily decide whether it wants to be refined or wants to be chic. It doesn’t decide if it wants to be young at all, from Celine Dion to Bella Hadid there’s clothes for everyone within Off-White. So by design I don’t put myself in a box because I don’t feel like the new consumer does. I feel like they make their decisions based on their feeling and they want a designer and a brand that is as equally non-committal. Like I move as fast as Instagram blows up, you know what I mean. And I feel like fashion could use the same kind of spirit and update from a designer brand and I wanted to provide that.