In the past couple of years, Virgil Abloh’s name has pretty much exploded in the fashion and pop culture stratosphere. From being Kanye West’s longtime creative director and a globetrotting deejay for over a decade, he’s stepped forward as the role model for the multi-tasking, multi-time-zone-toggling, multi-everything millennial generation.
Besides Yeezy, he now flits in the same orbit as designers like Undercover’s Jun Takahashi and Demna Gvasalia of Balenciaga/Vetements – both of whom he counts as friends. The thing that’s fuelling his ascent most at the moment: Off-White, the street wear label he founded three years ago.
Starting out with screen-printed tees, it’s now one of the hottest tickets at Paris Fashion Week with a fanbase that boasts all the women every brand wishes it could be seen on: Rihanna, Beyonce, Kendall Jenner, Karlie Kloss, Gigi Hadid.
Now it’s entering the next phase of global domination with a spate of standalone retail stores popping up, the latest of which opened here (two weeks ago) on the first floor of 268 Orchard – a collaboration with local multi-label boutique Surrender.
So what to this newly minted fashion lord maketh a well dressed person? In town recently for the store opening, he dishes out his thoughts:
#1: Dress like there are no rules
“Dress however you’re most comfortable with to express your personal style. Look for ways to be unique… (After all, women now can dress more freely. For example, they no longer need to be sexy in the traditional sense.) There’s a lot more freedom to go left or right. (The most important thing is that) the clothes don’t wear you. (To me, what makes a well dressed person is someone who) mixes and matches and adapts to suit his or her own individuality. (What catches my eye) is someone who can put her own spin on what’s trendy.”
#2: Be a cultural hound
“(Off-White is an embodiment of my lifestyle and this gives the pieces meaning). They have a context and are able to relate (to a wider movement). I get a lot of ideas from friends and the things that I surround myself with; things that are pushing culture – be it an after-party, art gallery or a friend’s fashion exhibition. (Instead of finding inspiration in specific cities), I find it in people and what they do; the restaurants and clubs that they go to… (What makes Off-White) is that it’s sporadic, young and related to current times.”
(Abloh is not kidding when he says he’s constantly on the look for inspiration – he was glued to Instagram throughout this interview)
#3: The advent of Kanye and hip hop’s style coterie
“For me and other kids in my generation, Kanye West has pioneered a new way of thinking about culture in general. His most profound offering is that trends and style can come from the bottom up, and a lot of the things he’s done paved the way for us to express ourselves. (Other famous people I think dress well?) Rocky, Bari and Nast of the A$AP mob; Kim Kardashian; Kendall and Kylie Jenner.
#4: Know this name: Stevie Dance
“I work on my women’s wear with a stylist named Stevie Dance (formerly editor of Australian indie fashion magazine Russh and known for her summery, lo-fi tinged images). I think she’s one of the most important women in fashion for her approach, intellect and spirit and it comes through in her work with our pictures looking different. My womenswear (the best-sellers of which are the denim, fleece and T-shirts) is a conversation with her: a modern girl who isn’t predictable and simply cool in a non-territorial sense. She’s human – that’s the best way to describe her.”
Like this? Check out the Female team’s favourite collections from Milan, the most stylish Asian influencers and why senior writer Imran Jalal thinks Kanye is the Yeezus of fashion.