Rumored soon-to-be Givenchy head creative, Virgil Abloh paid a visit to Columbia University, where he spoke with member of the school’s GSAPP architect program. Abloh was provided a glowing introduction by adjunct professor Michael Rock, who made his acquaintance years ago through Kanye West’s Donda organization.
Abloh may be best known for his Off White fashion label, but his educational roots are in architecture, having received his Masters of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and his undergraduate in Civil Engineering at the University of Madison.
In the talk, Abloh spoke about working with Kanye West and how he views streetwear as a concept, which led to an explanation on the start up of his first fashion label, Pyrex.
Through a series of slides, Abloh spent quite a bit of time describing the design ideas behind his retail locations. He also touched on how he came up with the Off White horizontal logo and discussed using artist John Berger’s narrative in his most recent runway presentation in Paris and working with artist Jim Joe to create a showroom rug mocking his controversial Pyrex Rugby flannels.
Abloh also showed his collaborative Nike Air Force 1 shoe from Art Basel to the audience in a slide and also passed around a Nike Blazer, and explained some of its design features.
Check out some of the more interesting quotes below.
- “Irony is a tool for modern creativity. There’s a reason why we probably all look at 60 memes a day. That was an invention of humor.”
- “We’re all born out of thin air. How do you know what your next step is going to be? Your next step is going to be someone’s work that you identify with.”
- “Off White is the kids on Prince and Mercer. It’s the kids that didn’t go to fashion school. It’s the kids that found value in a screen-printed t-shirt.”
- “It’s easier to be a critic than produce work.”
- “I for one am not a perfectionist.”
- “Pyrex the clothing line wasn’t meant to be a clothing band, that’s why it stopped.”
- “Create the project that’s latent with potential and sees what happens after.”
- “I think of that term streetwear as the name of a new art movement that is seemingly undefined. So that’s my goal, to define it.”
- “For [Kanye West and I], the [Yeezus CD cover] represented the death of the CD.”
- “Fashion can lose its strength when it doesn’t mean anything behind it.”
- “I was going to use someone’s name but I’m not going to use it because I’ll get in trouble again, surely. One of my favorite fashion designers [Raf Simons], basically, his vintage clothes are worth an insane amount of money, there’s a rationale behind that. Something that meant something at a time that aged really well.”
- “Soon [Off White] won’t say white on the back. The theory I had behind that was that I’m going to move from these words and phrases that common opinion can add different racial undertones and then as the brand evolves, those will be discarded.”
- “Have a loaded message. I feel like there’s enough complacency and hollowness in design.”
- “Is Off White Ed Hardy? Who knows? It might be. Ed Hardy’s cool”
- “What I’m trying to do is between Supreme and Celine. Chic and so authentically real.”
- “The stuff that interests youth culture is important.”
- “I love counterfeits. It’s the best feedback. It’s better than a great review on Vogue.”
- “Everything’s been done by the way.”
Watch his talk below. Abloh begins at 12:35.