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Aside from his role as Kanye West’s creative director, Virgil Abloh keeps himself busy with design projects, most notably his new ready-to-wear label OFF-WHITE. Despite launching just last year, OFF WHITE c/o VIRGIL ABLOH is already being stocked by the likes of colette, Barneys and Selfridges to name a few, and he recently branched out into womenswear with his inaugural collection for fall. Style.com recently reached him by phone to speak on OFF-WHITE’s latest expansion, working with Sky Ferreira, while also reflecting on previous endeavor, Pyrex Vision. Read an excerpt below and check out the full interview over at Style.com.
How has launching Off-White allowed you to evolve your point of view?
It’s interesting now having the brand. It’s kind of like an onion, rolling back the layers of what does Off-White mean. And Off-White to me just means “now.” My reference points are: It’s a culture, it’s a lifestyle, it’s kids. It’s, like, same social circle—like, all my friends, I love their personal style. I think the main thing is that Off-White is a sort of attempt to represent youth culture and young lifestyle in the marketplace of established fashion brands. For me, it’s a way to show the world—from my vantage point as a hip-hop kid—that image of fashion. I’ve designed for quite some time. I have a background in architecture, so I’ve always been trying to find an outlet for all these ideas.
What is your womenswear aesthetic?
I just want chic, plus Air Force 1s. My guy friends dress in more of a streetwear manner, and my girlfriends dress in Céline or Saint Laurent. It’s very, like, Chateau Marmont, Café Select, The Mercer [Hotel], to [The] Westway, to 1 Oak, so I just merge all that. The most exciting part for me now is to just lay out this women’s world, and I see it as more of a boyfriend-girlfriend type relationship. The title of the women’s collection this season is “I Only Smoke When I Drink.” It’s a sentence that relates to that girl I imagine wearing the clothes.
Tell me about recently working with Sky Ferreira.
I’ve known Sky maybe for, like, a year and a half or so, just through being friends, kind of being in the same sort of circle of friends and creative kids, trying to make a mark. And it’s very cool—she is such a talented person and such a muse. I was immediately drawn to that. We have tons of similar likes and whatnot, so it all sort of organically happened. It all started, I think, with the stage production for her, and organically that led into a twofold concept where it was like, let’s merge the aesthetic of the stage with a fashion piece that kind of integrates it, kind of making it more 3-D. We both kind of naturally were inspired by Michael Jackson. [laughs] Everyone at some point tries to get out some Michael Jackson dream of their life.
Are you a fan of her music?
Super. I’ve always been a fan of many music genres outside of hip-hop and people’s music that is supremely natural talent, and she is that. Like, her charisma, her stage presence, and her off-stage presence are very intriguing. She symbolizes a lot for her culture, and I think authenticity and rock music is a thing that’s not common, so that’s what makes me a fan of her. Her personality—that’s what draws me to her. And her music, her sound, and what she puts into it is amazing to me.
Going back to the clothing, you referenced Martha Stewart and Montauk as influencing your first menswear collection, which was called “Youth Will Always Win.” Are you keeping that look moving into next season?
[laughs] Yeah, I’m super into that still. That’s a part of my personality, so I’m still on that sort of aesthetic—I’m not ready to move from it so fast. But I have a different theme building for the men’s. It’s all this Baja surf-inspired collection. It’s very coastal still—it’s more like Cali, and it’s called “Moving Still” and it’s about waves. It’s a graphic story, but then it’s also this sort of hippie, poncho-wearing, drug rug interpretation. In order for me to be happy with the season, there has to be a cool name to it. It has to have a theme, but then still the graphic-based aesthetic and prints on clothes.