Virgil Abloh is a very interesting individual. He's done videos for artists like Rihanna and ASAP Rocky. He's done sneaker collaborations with Nike and Converse. He's super close to Kanye West. Oh and he also happens to be the new artistic men's director of Louis Vuitton. In addition to this, his brand "OFF-WHITE" is the most popular luxury brand in the world.
It will surprise most that he didn't go to school for any of the above mentioned accolades. He actually went to school for engineering. Civil Engineering to be exact. He got his bachelor's at the University of Wisconsin and his masters in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
So how does a civil engineer/architect become one of the most influential fashion designers and cultural icons of our generation? The answer is deconstruction and ingenuity.
Virgil ,in many ways, lives and exists in a world that's more conceptual than literal. His popular brand "OFF-WHITE" is a concept of an object or idea that never really exists on the extreme of any spectrum. Rather the object or idea lives in the middle. Therefore, the object or idea is both concepts at the same time. This then positions said object as a conversational piece because your view of it is a result of your perception and not it's definition. An example of this is the color gray. The color gray is neither black nor white; it more of something in between. This obscurity in his brand allows his fashion to act more like art rather than clothing, so when consumers purchase pieces from his line. They feel like their purchasing art rather just cotton or polyester.
This thought process may seem crazy and complex but it isn't. Virgil simply deconstructs what matters to him and those around him as a whole. He has a 7 step process that he calls his "DNA". This "DNA" allows him to break down what matters and what connects to people on a universal level.
Once he is able to deconstruct and identify the meaning and values of his concept, he then begins the process of ingenuity. He starts to turn the proverbial wheel in a direction that pleases both him and the audience that he is speaking to. An example of this is the collaboration that he did with Nike and their top 10 sneaker silhouettes. In this collaboration, Virgil took 10 of nike's classic silhouettes and re-purposed them. He brought the worlds of nostalgia and progression together in order to create wonderful pieces of art as well as stylish shoes. The end result was a product that Nike could sell and shoes that resonated with the sneakerhead community.
Virgil Abloh is a hero amongst his generation. He has seemingly created hype and prestige around something that was once considered basic and lower class, "streetwear". His deconstruction of thoughts and ideas allow him to examine a culture in its complexity. His ingenuity is what makes him attractive to brands because he can command demographics because his products speak to their culture on a personal level.
Written by Roswell
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