5 Minutes With... Virgil Abloh
You’ll have never guess who his celebrity crush is. Hint: She’s a great cook!
High-end streetwear brand Off-White may only be three years young, but the long list of celebrity following its amassed since 2013 is one that will raise a few eyebrows in the phlegmatic fashion community. The mastermind behind the cooler-than-thou digs on Rihanna, Gigi Hadid and Rita Ora? Virgil Abloh.
But Abloh doesn’t seem fazed by the fame or the success. He says: “I have always just focused on making interesting things. I think my consumers are looking for uniqueness and personality. The products I design are meant to be unique additions to one’s existing closet and I’m honored that anyone finds interest in them.”
Perhaps his nonchalance towards the cult status of his designs is due, at least in part, to his pointed focus on his design goal, which is to “add an intellectual layer to street wear.” To achieve that, he explains, “I often explore both ‘expensive’ and ‘cheap’ design languages and merge them together to gain my own voice. That clash is the tension that fills the grey area of Off-White. I think research and points of reference are important to a genre that can be considered ‘easy’.”
Before the founding of his Milan-based brand, on top of managing his own content company, Donda, Abloh was the creative director for Kanye West in 2011. The following year, his creative work earned him—and fellow collaborators Riccardo Tisci of Givenchy, Jay-Z and Kanye West—a Grammy nomination for Album Packaging for the latter duo’s “Watch The Throne” album.
The 36-year-old designer also counts Tom Sachs, George Condo, Moncler and Nike as his partners in success. His Off-White pieces are retailed at Barneys New York, Selfridges, as well as in his own flagship stores in Hong Kong, Tokyo and now, Singapore.
Named as “Window”, the new Singapore boutique is the brainchild of Abloh and design studio, Family New York. “The concept was to turn the idea of a store inside out and create a tension between the exterior and interior expression,” explains Abloh. “The only connection they would have is via the ‘windows’.”
We play a quick “fill in the blanks” with the designer du jour.
I start my day by... checking emails and catching up on any overnight messages.
One thing people don’t know about me... I love Martha Stewart.
When I'm not at work, you'll find me... working.
My proudest accomplishment to date is... creating on a regular basis.
The most memorable lesson I’ve learned is… the hard work never stops.
The one person who inspires me is... the youth.
My favourite city... Paris because of its age and charm.
In 10 years… I hope to be doing much of the same I'm doing today.
Off-White is available at 268 Orchard Road #01-01.