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BREAKING THE RULES: Virgil Abloh took advantage of the men’s shows in Paris to showcase his debut collection for his new label Off-White. Taking off from his previous venture, Pyrex Vision, it taps a similar aesthetic vein, with influences ranging from Bauhaus to sports apparel and Caravaggio.
“It’s really the same thing, but it’s also very different. It’s always informed by the latest things that I see, and I’m just running it through a filter that normalizes it,” said Abloh, a multihyphenate who is creative director for Kanye West and co-founded Chicago concept store RSVP Gallery.
While other designers were showing fall-winter collections, Abloh was presenting his spring-summer line, which was launched online late last year and has already been picked up by retailers including Colette in Paris and Barneys New York.
“The fact that I’m able to do an unorthodox launch, where I’m branding and releasing and selling to stores in the shortest gap, I’m trying to embrace that as a designer. I think that’s our job as young designers, to sort of break a few rules and think within this new model,” he said.
The collection features colors including off-white, black, yellow and sky blue. Items include hoodies printed with a reproduction of a Caravaggio painting, while bold graphics — combining the word “White” with a number 13 barred with thick diagonal stripes — appear on everything from sweatshirts to denim or flannel shirts.
“The concept was like, it’s an unlucky number, so if I cross it out, then it’s like good vibes. You know, it’s like everything is back to square one,” Abloh said with a laugh.
Accessories included a tote, a backpack, espadrilles and a cross-body bag inspired by a utility belt. Off-White, which is made in Italy, is conceived as an “elevated streetwear” brand that will be sold at luxury prices.
“I’m not interested in selling it in streetwear stores. I’m not interested in stores that are merchandised in that sort of way. I think it’s more interesting for it to be in unexpected, awesome stores, where the buyers are really passionate about their space, design and the story that they’re telling,” Abloh said.