For OFF-WHITE’s A/W 18 offering it seemed that Virgil Abloh was channeling life’s indecisions, the lax attitude of the nineties (apparently the nineties trend isn’t going anywhere) and uniform archetypes - this was 'Business Casual' after all. The show began with a booming voice overhead, which spoke of banality. 'Doing some dumb thing over and over and over again, you get caught into the structure of what you’re supposed to be and you have no other choice. You’re finally moulded into what you’re supposed to be. I didn’t like the job.' It sounded like a forlorn teen’s MySpace bio from yesteryear, or perhaps just questioning the monotony of the 9-5.
But is Abloh feeling apathetic? He has no reason to be. OFF-WHITE is perhaps one of the most coveted brands of the moment. Abloh’s brainchild sells well, anyone from celebrity, to pre-teen, to academic, covets the brand - even the naysayers yearn to know more about the brand that has the world hyped. This was shown first hand when invitees swarmed Virgil at the entrance for a selfie. When one is greeting and meeting instead of being backstage, it shows just how popular, not only the brand, but Abloh himself is - and how instrumental the two are for each other.
As the music merged from moody voice to Weezer’s Only in Dreams - a nod to Abloh’s passion for pop-rock - examples of nineties teens, and indeed the teen films in which Weezer would soundtrack, began to appear in the clothes. T-shirts and polos were all pulled toward the left hip, giving the garments large folds and creases which appeared to mirror the OFF-WHITE stripe - one thought of a pre-teen sliding out of bed. 'Beastie Boys' splashed across a panelled shirt and crew neck was another nod to a young Abloh - the former of which was rather good. Things felt a little Marty Mcfly with double-denim looks but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Abloh is great at cherry-picking from the past and bringing it into the now.
Textured knits, leathers and khakis felt normcore and a little Raf-inspired. As too did a shearling cropped bolero - I can see Kim Kardashian in that number already. One was transported to that pre and post-college feeling of uncertainty with ink blot and bleached smear jumpers, but things shifted towards the corporate as Abloh’s first step into tailoring appeared.
Is this Americana boy searching for a job? Growing into a business man? Models switched from tees and jeans, to suits and briefcases in pinstripe grey and distressed brown leathers. Some models had dry-cleaning bags slung over shoulder or over arm, a comical addition. These workwear twists seemed to hark back to that booming voice overhead - it’s as if this youngun’ can’t decide on his future, refusing to be pigeonholed and experimenting with a puffer or an American Psycho style mac. Testing out characters as you try the many fields of work in life.
Jackets and jeans came with a zipper or button popper on the knee or elbow - customisable for the individual not yet settled on a career - business by day, casual by night - just a quick unzip and you’re there.
This transition into more structured shapes, this experimentation with formal wear, is a fresh move into the usual contemporary streetwear of Abloh. Customers can now say that not only are their trainers, shirt and hoodie by OFF-WHITE, their suit is too. An important rite for the Abloh obsessed.
Abloh is a self-confessed sponge for the world around him and this show felt very filmic in reference. Not that the die-hard fanatics (of which this show was brimming) will need a resonating reference to buy. These references felt more for the unconverted - those on the fence of the brand - and certainly paid off. The clothes stood out for themselves but the soundtrack and comical quips throughout allowed the viewer to feel familiar, to resonate and to picture themselves in the garment. That’s the power of Abloh.