You’ve heard Virgil Abloh‘s story time and time again, but you’ve yet to hear it told like this. GQ recently sat down with Abloh and some of his closest collaborators to talk about the designer’s inspiring come-up. Below, highlights from the from the publication’s in-depth Spring 2019 cover story, with insight from everyone from Taz Arnold to Fonzworth Bentley:
Becoming a Designer Just Sort of… Happened.
“I didn’t make a conscious decision one day that I wanted to be a designer,” Abloh shared, pointing to his first clothing label, Pyrex, “which in my mind was more like an art piece.”
“It was a ten-minute film that I wanted to make, and I needed clothing to support this idea of a team with no sport,” he continued. “I was very intent on stopping it before it really got started.”
Fashion designer and DJ Marcelo Burlon, Off-White co-partner Davide De Giglio, and more go on to detail the opening of the first Off-White store in Hong Kong and how Abloh pushed to premiere Off-White’s collections at Paris Men’s Fashion Week.
Abloh Transitioned into Fashion While Studying Architecture.
“When I was studying architecture at Illinois Institute of Technology, the student center was just getting finished by OMA, the firm run by [architect] Rem Koolhaas. One of the mentors that was giving lectures on campus was a man named Michael Rock. Rem and Michael together made up two-thirds of the think tank surrounding Prada. That’s how I first made the bridge between architecture and fashion.”
According to Don C, Kanye West Viewed Their Foray into Fashion Shows As a ‘Civil Rights Movement.’
Don C stated,”I remember Kanye saying, ‘We’re going to look back on this and it’s going to be similar to the civil rights movement, because we’re standing up to have a voice.’ At the time, I was like, ‘Dude, I can’t compare this to Rosa Parks.’ But in hindsight, it is comparable, because we’ve encouraged new people to participate.”
Abloh Was Also Inspired by a Void That the Industry Was Looking to Fill.
“When Kanye and I were first going to fashion shows, there was no one outside the shows,” Abloh told GQ. “Streetwear wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but the sort of chatter at dinners after shows was like “Fashion needs something new. It’s stagnant. What’s the new thing going to be?” That was the timeline on which I was crafting my ideas.”
Head to GQ to read the full feature.