In my opinion, street wear is one of the most simplistic yet, captivating genres of clothing. When hearing the words “street wear,” it is oftentimes linked to skateboarding, trendy graphic t-shirts and simple, yet clean designed sneakers such as Nike SB’s or Vans. Somehow, this simple skate-based style has transitioned tremendously in the fashion industry within these last few years. Having flag-ship stores such as Kith (Based in New York, with stores in Miami and now LA) and Round Two (based in Richmond, VA and now having a store in LA). These stores are only two of many that have an array of designers and aesthetic influence that real people in. In addition to that, this rise in high-end street wear comes from a few brands specifically: Stüssy, Supreme, Bape and Ape, The Hundreds and the recently crazed, Off-White.
So what exactly is Off-White? Virgil Abloh, a name that has been swirling around a lot in pop culture and fashion media lately, is the creator of this high end street wear brand. Founded in 2013 and based in Milan, Italy, Off-White has recently been under a microscope due to its well known collaborations with brands and stores such as Jimmy Choo, Nike, Ikea and Warby Parker. Virgil got got his career in design started by interning for years and also making graphic tees for street wear brand Pyrex and ever since his career has skyrocketed. Before then however, he was already forming his fan-base by serving as the creative director for Kanye West starting in 2003, contributing to a lot of Kanye’s growth as a designer and enhancing visuals for a few of Kanye’s albums. In an interview with GQ magazine, he even stated his thoughts on the transition of what high end fashion is becoming, saying, “that shift in fashion? I’m pointing straight at that.”
One of the shoes from the Nike x “Off-White” collaboration.
Virgil Abloh, 32, was recently named the newest menswear artistic director of Louis Vuitton — making him the first African-American designer for the long-time brand as well. A high-end fashion brand that until recent times has never promoted the same “fashion x street wear” blend mindset that Virgil has. So what does this say about the fashion industry? It’s evolving in all areas! Brands such as Gucci and Balenciaga, two high-end brands that are on the same spectrum as Louis Vuitton, are now trending for cool graphic tees, something that would not have been worn on a runaway just a couple of years ago. It is the idea that yes, high-fashion is super cool and honestly art, but what is the likelihood of seeing someone walk around in runway wear? That was pretty slim until now. Making this jump in the fashion-world is probably one of the smartest. Enhancing the likely hood of attracting a bigger audience since these clothes are more likely to be worn as day-to-day wear.
Abloh has mentioned a lot throughout his career that he wants to inspire youth. Yes, the prices of his brand are not quite in a college person’s budget but it’s his concepts that inspire. The simplicity in his clothing that appeal to what we enjoy wearing paired with his artistic abilities he uses within his work to sell his apparel. His look, to see an African-American creating for himself and the iconic Louis Vuitton shows a lot about how fashion should not and will not look just one way anymore.
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