To quote Vogue’s recent profile of Virgil Abloh, “Wow, this guy can talk.” It’s true; few fashion world personalities are as verbose as Abloh, who is always ready with a quip, be it about making Chicago a fashion hub or the ins and out of his creative ethos. It’s a welcome departure—one of many that Abloh has brought to the fashion world—from the idea of the creative director as a far-off, isolated genius who hands down style missives from on high.
Off-White and what Abloh is building at Louis Vuitton men’s couldn’t be further from that antiquated vision. Being accessible and creating conversation is as core to his design practice as his popular Off-White x Nike sneakers and Vuitton mid-layer garments.
On October 10 and 11, Abloh will appear IRL at Vogue’s third Forces of Fashion event to share his insights with our audience. We can’t promise what the effusive creative director will want to discuss just yet, but if his best quotes prove anything, it’s that he will be willing to discuss topics far and wide. After all, it was Abloh who said, “Off-White is not just about buying the clothes.”
On the Bigger Meaning of Off-White
“I don’t get too bogged down in the clothes. Off-White is to make a brand.… For me, it’s one big art project. These clothes and the things that I make that I spend time obsessing about—these 200-, 300-piece collections—they’re just a means to paint a bigger picture that fashion should have a brand where the person behind it cares about different contexts, different social things, just different landscapes, and I’m just in disguise as a fashion brand that shows in Paris.”
On His Design Mantra
“[The] way of designing—to develop everything from zero—comes from a different time. For me, design is about whatever I find is worthy to tell a story about. I don’t believe that culture benefits from the idea that this line on a piece of paper has never been drawn in this exact way ever before. My goal is to highlight things—that’s why I collaborate a lot; that’s why I reference a lot, and that’s what makes my body of work what it is.”
On Making Items with Value
“Off-White, a T-shirt is like $200, a hoodie is like $300. At the upper level, like, don’t let Zara or Uniqlo educate you on the price of a garment because that’s not fashion. That’s like McDonald’s, so your health is tied to that. It’s like, here’s a 99-cent nugget.”
On Building Fashion Communities Around America
“The centers of fashion are in Europe, and that’s how it’s been historically. It would be hard to remove that silo completely; it’s like taking cars made in Detroit and trying to make cars in Rockford, Illinois. It’s going to be an immense startup project, but I think in America we do have this forefront of streetwear, and we have our own identity, and different cities around the country should be multilayered places of fashion.”
On Where His Career Is Going
“I’m sort of in this midlife phase where I’m pondering becoming more content sitting on a couch. As a workaholic, that’s the central conundrum. I’m sort of absorbing these milestones in my career, but I’m also welcoming the idea that, yeah, maybe I don’t travel so much; maybe I don’t take on as many projects; maybe I spend more time at home with my kids. Now that I see what my trajectory is, who knows? I might be open to being boring.”