Virgil Abloh is a man of many talents. He designed streetwear sensation Pyrex Vision, is the founder and owner of RSVP Gallery in Chicago, is part of the #BEEN #TRILL collection and is known to many of you as the DONDA dude who handles general shit that has to do with Kanye West. As of today, his resume just got a little longer because Virgil just launched his latest collection, Off-White, for S/S 14. Abloh has teased Off-White off and on for the past few months, going so far as to update his Twitter and Instagram bios to reflect his newest venture. Now, full photos of the collection have surfaced on Style.com.
At first glance, these clothes seem to be the natural extension (if not really a progression) from Pyrex Vision. The numbers on the back of shirts that essentially defined the now defunct label are still omnipresent, as are the small white box logos that appear side by side on shorts, pants and tees. Where the word "Pyrex" had once been emblazoned, it has since been replaced by "White". While there's an added sort of crosswalk-esque print motif gracing several pieces, in general, even the color palette is virtually identical to Pyrex's last, and more prominent offering, consisting of simple solids such as black, white, light blue, yellow and red. Certainly there's an argument to be made for "not fixing what ain't broke (and makes you a ton of money)," considering Pyrex sold like fucking hot cakes sprinkled with crack when it dropped. But if this is really Virgil's new, "big idea"—one that took months upon months of trying, dedicated work—then excuse me if I'm having trouble spotting the "new". Even the collection's name, "The Youth Will Always Win", is exactly same as the Pyrex Vision collection it's so obviously based on.
That in mind, it's good to see that Virgil has ditched his controversial methods of printing graphics on 3rd party garments (namely, Ralph Lauren Rugby flannels) in favor of cut and sew production and Italian manufacturing. At least now the high prices he's sure to charge will have some sort of justification, although how high those prices will be is still unknown.
Look, I like a long flannel shirt as much as the next guy. I'd even go as far to say that the camouflage jacket with patch overload its kind of cool on its own. But I just can't help thinking Abloh squandered an opportunity to prove to people that he isn't just a one trick pony. Ironically enough, Virgil told Stlye.com that he thinks streetwear is known for its "one trick pony-ness."
Whether he likes it or not, there's stigma that comes with being a Kanye West affiliate. Shit, the title of the Style.com article refers to Abloh as a "Kanye West's creative consigliere". There are a good amount of people who, justifiably, think that without Kanye, Virgil would be where he is today. I can't speak to the truth of that even though I've had the opportunity to speak to Virgil on a few occasions. However, I can say with confidence that he's a genuinely receptive person and is interested in the creative ventures of others. He is not the kind of snob that one might expect from a guy whose boss refers to himself as a god. Perhaps these personal encounters, however small, gave me false hope that he'd be able to shake that "mini Yeezus" stigma since the moment I first heard about Off-White. At the very least, I wanted Virgil to give people a reason to believe that he is truly indispensable to Kanye's various creative ventures. Virgil is someone who clearly understands the current status quo of high-fashion, streetwear and where they intersect. I agree that Riccardo Tisci designing couture dresses while wearing Air Force 1's is something special to our generation. And I agree that the youth will always win. I just don't think Off-White is a win for the youth.