Have you ever bought something and immediately felt ripped off? Well, I have, and that rip-off resulted in a pair of yellow Off-White sneakers. Were they cool — yes, comfortable — yes, were they worth $400? NO!! Within two weeks the shoes fell apart, annoyed me, and put me in a mood bad enough to vent about Virgil Abloh and his “hyped” up kicks.
All things hype and streetwear have dominated the fashion arena for years now. We craved for Balenciaga Triple S sneakers, Gucci hoodies and anything Vetements. However, in the post-pandemic world of 2020, we see a shift in fashion, style and perceived value where we demand quality and timelessness. Above all, we want brands that embody our values and beliefs, and we need to know our money supports what we support.
Virgil Abloh, the famed designer behind the super brand Off-White and lead menswear designer for Louis Vuitton, has been the king of the fashion world for a few years now and quite honestly, I do not get it. Yes, the clothes are cool, casual, easy to wear and will certainly garner a few looks as you walk down the street; however, is that hot-stamped logo worth the hefty price tag? Are we finally waking up and saying, “we need a little more for our money”?
Virgil has received heat for ripping off emerging artists, copying past designs and calling them original over the last few years; however, 2020 is undoubtedly the year Virgil is taking an L.
Let’s talk about social responsibility. Amidst the height of Black Lives Matter protests Virgil was quick to self promote his $50 donation to Fempower, a Miami based art collective, (learn more about this in this New York Times article). At lightning speed, people took to social media to rant and rightfully so. The logic was this. You charge $600 or more for a sweater, you make piles of cash, and all you offer to create change is $50. Yes, for many of us $50 is a big effort; however, in relative terms, the man with the seven-figure income can do a little better and push (with cash) for change.
Louis Vuitton stores were looted and instead of using his platform similar to other great innovators in fashion like Marc Jacobs, who said “property can be replaced, human lives cannot,” Virgil took a different approach. He called out looters, saying the things in their homes are tainted and that they are complicit in the collapse of their community. EXPAND ON THIS
Switch from fashion and go to music industry collaborations. We all saw that awful Pop Smoke album cover. About as innovative as a default design in PowerPoint, and of course, that was ripped apart on social media. Virgil claimed the album cover was created based on discussions from when Pop Smoke was alive, and the inspiration was roses and thorns coming out of concrete. A metaphor of Pop Smoke’s rise from Canarsie, Brooklyn to superstardom in under a year with one album under his belt. Perhaps it was an Off-White belt, but who’s to say. The concept sounded great, inspiring almost, however, the nothing special cover was just a reflection of an apparent lack of innovation and no understanding of what we the masses want to see. Not much of a visionary if you ask me.
So tell me (in the comments) is Off-White and the reign of Virgil done, or are we still hooked on our flashy labels and the made-up hype of the past?
Written by: Dag Larsen