How Off-White Became The World’s “Hottest Brand”.
Music by: Rujay – Killer. Image credit: Off-White.
It’s CULTED and welcome to the next episode of our HISTORY BLAST series.
Today we’re running through the history and campaigns of the brand that’s on everyone’s lips – Off-White.
It all started back in 2013, when Virgil Abloh stepped out of the shadow of his mentor Kanye West, to create one of the most popular streetwear brands out there.
But Off-White wasn’t Abloh’s first brand. He’d previously built a streetwear empire under the name Pyrex Vision, but faced controversy over the reuse and reselling of deadstock Ralph Lauren flannels at a much higher price.
Pyrex Vision was scrapped to pave the way for a new brand – Off-White. But this new brand wasn’t just about streetwear, Abloh fused street style with luxury, bridging a common ground between the two.
Abloh burst onto the scene with Off-White’s debut campaign for SS14, which featured the now instantly recognisable black and white diagonal stripes which have become synonymous with the brand.
Part of Off-White’s success has been Abloh’s ability to utilise existing graphics, like the diagonal stripes seen on crosswalks, to build a brand that really resonates with customers.
Writing for Complex, Cameron Wolf explained that “even if the general population doesn’t recognise those diagonal stripes as Abloh’s, if his followers do, then he’s succeeded. Imagine hundreds of thousands of Off-White fans seeing diagonal lines all the time and automatically thinking of Abloh’s label. That’s extremely powerful because it can make the brand seem larger than it actually is.”
Following his debut collection, Abloh became a finalist for the LVMH prize and the quality of his shoot the following year for AW15 reflects this.
His next collection for SS16 again showed a shift in aesthetic but it still retained a rough/worn feel.
Towards the end of 2016, Abloh seemed to really find his feet with the brand. The clothes began to develop a coherency from season to season and Off-White’s campaigns became more creative. This is displayed in this shoot by Piotr Niepsuj, featuring Chiara Capitani for SS17, which really shows off Abloh’s ability to merge formal wear with streetstyle.
In the same year Off-White released the editorial “Cultures Clashed”. The shoot features a mismatch of characters who come together to create a power squad – reinforcing the brand’s ethos of combining contrasting styles.
2017 was a busy year for Abloh and Off-White. As well as their new collections and editorial campaigns, the brand also collaborated with the biggest sportswear brand in the world – Nike, to create the biggest sneaker event of the year. “The Ten” collaboration included Air Jordans, Air Maxs, Hyperdunks and more, making for a sneakerhead’s dream.
Part of Off-White’s success has been Abloh’s ability to reel in some of the world’s biggest brands to collaborate on new drops and collections.
The following year, Off-White collabed with Jimmy Choo, combining classic elegance with a young vibe.
For Pre-Fall 2019, the brand turned to oversized garments and Abloh tapped into Alterazioni Video’s “Incompiuto” project for the eye-catching campaign shoot which showcased unfinished structures across Italy.
The same year, Off-White released a stand-out bag campaign shot by Brett Lloyd, starring Naomi Chin.
For Pre-Fall 2020, Off-White entered a “new phase” transcending from streetwear to white collar, swapping out sneakers for leather boots adding a more sophisticated feel. The shoot was photographed by Alessio Bolzoni and styled by Ibrahim Kamara.
And that brings us into 2020. For Spring/Summer the brand launched a series of “how to” videos, showcasing the latest collections.
That’s all for this week’s episode. Be sure to tune in next Monday when we’ll be looking at more campaigns and the history behind them from some of the world’s biggest fashion houses.
Watch more videos on CULTED
See also: A HISTORY OF BALENCIAGA THROUGH THE LENS
See also: VERSACE’S STAND-OUT FASHION CAMPAIGNS