How Virgil Abloh defined a GREY AREA

by Sarah

Streetwear and Off-White, defining the grey area between black and white as Off-White.


DJ, founder of the clothing brand Off-White and the RSVP gallery, Kanye West’s former creative director… It’s amazing what Virgil Abloh has already achieved in his career, but this is just the beginning. He has recently been hired by Louis Vuitton as the new creative director for their men’s wear. This way, streetwear will definitely become more high fashion!



Virgil Abloh, born on September 30th 1980, studied at the university of Wisconsin-Madison as a civil engineer and at the Illinois Institute of Technology as an architect. But how did someone without any knowledge and experience in fashion become the founder of the worldwide known brand Off-White and creative director of Louis Vuitton?

The story of Virgil Abloh started when he was a student. On his graduation day, he met Kanye West’s former manager, John Monopoly. The vision that Virgil Abloh had back then was the same vision Kanye West had: striving for a certain ‘cool’ that hasn’t been reached yet.

A combination between high-end fashion and streetwear was the vision of Virgil. He got inspired by the 'JOIN A WEIRD TRIP' T-shirt by the brand Balenciaga. This T-shirt was the same as all his other clothes that he had lying in his closet. But after that one T-shirt, he knew what he wanted to create.

The path to Off-White and Louis Vuitton didn’t happen in 1, 2, 3… The translation of Virgil’s vision on clothing started with his first clothing brand: Pyrex Vision. His first collection consisted of Ralph Lauren shirts with the word ‘PYREX’ printed on them. He sold these shirts for the small sum of just $500.

Pyrex Vision’s succes was huge, but Virgil quit the brand after only one year to expand to Been Trill and eventually Off-White. The characteristics of his vision are still visible in his clothing, the prices have gone up and the clothing is produced by the same suppliers as Louis Vuitton and Valentino.



Virgil Abloh’s vision is to combine authenticity, uniqueness and fashion for the consumer who gets his inspiration from other designers, like Raf Simons and Hedi Slimane. The consumer understood the designers’ vision and loved the brand, but they couldn’t afford the pricey clothing. However, times have changed.

Streetwear and high-end fashion have always been in contrast to each other, emphasis on ‘been’. The rise of technology and information leads a new generation through fashion trends where the consumer has become an influencer in terms of fashion.



Virgil’s vision is defined in the name Off-White, the area between black and white stands for the combination of streetwear and high-end fashion. Off-White is an example of a good brand name, it’s definitely not easy to find one. Are you also looking for a powerful brandname? Make sure to read the blog: “How to name your clothing brand“.

Meanwhile, Off-White has several retail stores in Hong Kong, Tokio, London, Toronto… and upcoming stores in other world cities. Anywhere in the world, the name Off-White is known, especially because of collaborations with other brands such as Nike, Jimmy Choo, Moncler, Supreme…

Virgil was also a finalist for the LVMH Young Designers Prize in 2015 and won the Urban Luxe Award during the British Fashion Awards in 2017. With 3,1 million followers on Instagram for Off-White and 1,6 million Instagram followers for himself, it’s undeniable that he has become one of the biggest names in the fashion industry.

On March 26th 2018, he became the new successor of Kim Jones as the creative director for Louis Vuitton, who now works at Dior. This is a big milestone for Virgil as well as the fashion industry. Someone like Abloh who perfectly knows why a product is defined as luxurious and who knows which products are worn by the consumers, will definitely be a great asset for Louis Vuitton.

Off-White T-shirt Summer 2018

About Merchandise Essentials

In 2015 Merchandise Essentials consisted out of two young guys with big dreams. Working out of their parents’ living room they started turning those dreams into goals.

The living room became a 600m2 office space with a showroom. The two man team turned into a workforce of more than 30 young and talented individuals who are now designing and producing merchandise for brands and businesses in 43 countries.


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