Virgil Abloh needs no introduction in the streetwear and fashion realm. Famously curating a limited run of bold text and numbers printed on Champion blanks in 2012 under Pyrex Vision, Abloh extends his collection of influences and ideas into his newest venture, OFF-WHITE. Explaining the process behind his designs and images for OFF-WHITE collections, Abloh states that the culture of paradoxes influences him greatly in his creative thought process. He adds, “There are these kids in Australia that sit on a beach all day, really serenely, and then just get in the ocean and swim with sharks.” Similarly, his clothing reflects this clash of opposites as minimal, yet potent text prints and often dark images are highlighted on basic tees and unaltered sweatshirts. Abloh’s aesthetic pulls from the internet and its wide-range availability of imagery, sparking his collage-like creative output. Enjoy select excerpts from his dialogue and check out the full feature over at Interview Magazine.
For me, it’s a split between me and my complete opposite. [laughs] It’s like a split personality between my true self and a style that I admire. I’m super streetwear—I love that—but then I also love like, a kid from Montreal. I don’t know if you know that blogger, JJJJound, but he’s the epitome. He is pure GQ. I just got back with my wife from Nantucket, and I just love that lifestyle. So it’s both sides of the coin. I love graphics, and I wear plain tees all the time. So all that is Off White: post-Tumblr, post-street style, post-Tommy Ton documenting outfits. This is the brand that represents that.
For me, I started on this process of designing in an organic way. I had done a few projects in graphic design. My friend Sarah who does t-shirts at Colette, she bought some of mine and sold them there in 2005 or something like that. So I was always doing these kind of one-off, very graphic ideas, and she really supported me. And then a number of years later, I had the idea of taking Champion sweatshirts from my high school time and screenprinting them and adding new ideas to them. And so I took the gamble and took the opportunity to curate a fashion film that I had sort of dreamt up—I wanted to show what was happening in New York, with these kids coming from uptown, being players in fashion but representing streetwear. It was called Pyrex Vision, and what happened with that is that it kind of took hold and made more of an impact than I ever thought it would. That’s what really involved me and gave me the confidence to do a full collection, which is now Off White.
I don’t know if you know Aaron Bondaroff from New York, who, to me, is like the one of most progressive thinkers in current culture. I was talking to him last weekend at Frieze in New York, and what I always question is whether the stuff that we’re collectively creating—all of these post-Tumblr, current Instagram kids, creative directors—are we actually making something that’s as good as what we grew up with? And he basically said, “We won’t know until later.” Very matter of fact. What that says about me is that I’m always trying to push and trying to add credibility to something that seems very streetwear. And it has yet to be determined if it’s gonna be like disco—if we’re gonna look at it years later and be like, “Oh, that was funny.”