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Last Updated on 5th December 2022
Off White is a luxury streetwear fashion label often copied, but never rivalled. Known for it’s use of stripes, script branding, cross and arrows motifs, the clothing label produces in-demand apparel at a high price point.
With high profile collabs with Nike, Converse and fellow high-end streetwear brand Heron Preston, and a wealth of celebrity endorsement from the likes of Kayne West, Rhianna, LeBron James, and A$AP Rocky it propelled Off-White to legendary status with a devout following.
Who created Off White?
Off White was founded in 2013 by Virgil Abloh, but he started it’s predecessor Pyrex Vision in 2012. And the brand story is that of it’s visionary creator and designer, who’s essence is interwoven into his brands fabric. And the fact his Instagram account has 7.1 million followers shows his impact on the fashion industry well beyond his work.
Who was Virgil Abloh?
Virgil Abloh was born in Rockford Illinois in 1980, to Ghanaian immigrants Nee and Eunice Abloh. Despite graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and becoming a Master of Architecture in 2006, his seamstress mother taught him how to sew at a young age and he designed T-Shirts while studying.
He was also a DJ, and was well known on the Illinois music scene and first met Kayne West in 2002 which lead to him working on the Chicago rapper’s merchandise as he found success with Through the Wire, a song about his car crash sung with his jaw still wired shut.
Both took their interest in fashion further in 2009 with an internship with Italian Fashion House Fendi. The pair forged their close friendship and starting collaborating together further, which led to opening the RSVP Gallery and Abloh joined West’s Donda creative agency and album work. He was the creative director Kanye West’s joint 2011 album with Jay-Z, Watch the Throne.
The move into own clothing brands
In 2012 Abloh started Pyrex Vision, a fashion company that bought excess stock from designers like Ralph Lauren and screen-printed his unique designs on them which reflected youth culture at the time. Considering they were bought for $40 and sold for $550, the blueprint of a high price point for high quality materials and designs was set.
This paved the way to start high-end streetwear brand Off-White in 2013, pioneering the bridge between streetwear and luxury clothing. But the path may have been very different had his designs not caught the eye of Marc Jacobs, who was artistic director of Louis Vuitton from 1997 to 2014. A post that Abloh later held when he became the first African-American artistic director at Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready wear line in 2018.
It’s easy to suggest than with Louis Viton’s influence and West opening influencer opportunities in the music industry success was inevitable. But this does the visionary designer a disservice.
The first womenswear line in 2014 made it’s debut at the Paris Fashion Week, it was evident this was more luxury designer clothing than streetwear. Virgil Abloh was a recognised elite fashion designer, and this got the attention of big brands clambering for a collaboration opportunity. Because they worked. In 2017, Off-White redesigned 10 of the company’s best-selling Nike classic styles. The shoes sold out so fast, that it was swiftly followed up with a Nike trainers collection designed for Serena Williams.
Big brands queued up to collab with Off-White including A-Cold-Wall, TheDoubleF, Selfridges, Champion, Timberland, Le Bon Marche, Burton, SSENSE and Ikea. All the while Abloh’s profile was growing, a shining star in the fashion world, that dimmed too soon.
Virgil Abloh passed away November 28th 2021 aged just 41, leaving his timeless designs as a fitting legacy.
Who owns Off-White now?
Louis Vuitton (LVMH) acquired a majority share in Off-White in July 2021, when owner Abloh was privately fighting cancer. It’s logical to assume this was about more than money, with a promise to continue the brand in his honour as it continues the c/o Virgil Alboh branding.
What does Off White mean?
The name brand Off-White was defined by Abloh as the grey area between black and white as the colour off-white.
Why is Off White so expensive?
There is no denying Off-White carries a hefty price tag, but this is Louis Vuitton quality in fabrics and designs. In effect, it’s the streetwear collection from the Italian fashion house.
An Off-White T-shirt is like 200 bucks, and a hoodie is like $300. Don’t let Zara and Uniqlo educate you on the price of a garment, because that’s not fashion. That’s McDonald’s. Your health is tied to that 99-cent nugget