Virgil Abloh, the multitalented ambassador of youth culture, has finally infiltrated the world of fashion. His brand Off-White started as a step in the evolution of his vision for elevated streetwear, and is now a fully developed collection with an atelier up and running in Milan. Abloh is, in his mind, a shepherd. His mission: To “carry kids down the path of more informed streetwear, a streetwear that is more sophisticated but still has the signifying details of classic.”
That is exactly what Abloh offered up for the Spring/Summer 2015 collection. The range is overflowing with ideas, mostly centered around the world of a street-savvy beach bum. Layering is key to the Off-White look: The collection’s high notes involve T-shirts and shorts as top layers; elongated mesh skirts; ponchos; and striking red, black, and white monochrome ensembles. The thicker plastisol screen-printing techniques that have been popular for the last few years—used for Abloh’s old Pyrex wears as well as previous Off-White collections—have been swapped out for softer, less perfect graphics, often appearing near hems on shirts and pants. Jeans were cut long and tapered, a fit reminiscent of Hedi Slimane’s coveted Dior Homme denim circa 2005. Rider jackets in black and ready leather and neoprene were cool enough to be must-haves for the season.
With this effort, Abloh has proven that he has an eye for color and a keen sense of how a full collection is put together, but he’s limited by his adherence to familiar ideas, relying on a few streetwear tropes that are ready to be retired—crotch prints, sweatpants, military patches. Paint splatters and fringe distressing aren’t quite convincing enough to portray the Baja-surf culture vibe Abloh’s attempting to capture.
Surely Abloh’s is a very active mind, with the potential to have influence greater than some of the very large, old fashion houses he now resides with in Milan. He made his name pushing the boundaries for what T-shirts and hoodies can be, but now that he’s in Milan bumping elbows with Prada and Gucci, he’ll have to start taking even bigger risks to stand out.