A deep dive into the streetwear brand identity and its’ redefinition of luxury.
Virgil Abloh founded Off-White in 2013 and incorporated the brand in Milan. It is the makeover of the former PYREX VISION brand. Abloh defines Off-White as a gray zone between white and black. Off-White is a common ground between high fashion and streetwear.
The Off-White logo is characterized by its signature zebra pattern, known explicitly as a diagonal spray. Off-White has a philosophy of placing everything in quotation marks. The main recognizable elements of the design are generally placed in quotation marks. On a scarf from the brand, “Scarf” is written on the scarf, “Shoelace” is written on the shoelace of sneakers, and on a tiny black dress, “Little Black Dress” is registered in quotation marks on the dress. Celebrities such as Rihanna, Kylie Jenner, Bella Hadid, Beyoncé, Jay-Z, and Travis Scott wear the Off-White brand and have partnered with brands such as Nike, Levi, and IKEA.
In this article, we will explore the following:
- Off-White history
- Off-White collaborations
- Marketing strategies
After obtaining a Master’s in Architecture from the Institute of Technology in Illinois, Virgil Abloh founded the Pyrex vision brand in 2012. Pyrex’s vision faced controversies concerning its designs as knockoffs of Ralph Lauren’s shirts. He eventually rebranded the company into the now-known Off-White brand.
Virgil Abloh interned at Fendi brand in Rome in 2009, and became the creative director of Kanye West’s creative agency, Donda, only a year later.
José Neves, the owner of Farfetch, purchased the New Guards Group in August 2019 for $675 million, the parent organization of Off-White. LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, in June 2021, announced that they would be taking control of 60% of the company, leaving 40% in the management of Virgil Abloh. Virgil Abloh, on the establishment of Off-White, said, “In a large part streetwear is seen as cheap. What my goal has been is to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible”.
Abloh’s success story does not end with clothing but extends to music, art, and many other areas. Off-White seems to be a jack of all trades, and they seem exceptional at what they do. In 2011, Virgil worked as the art director on the joint music album tagged “Watch the Throne” by Kanye West and Jay-Z. The art was designed with Kanye West, establishing him in the hip-hop community.
Off-White Marketing strategy
With only a few years since its inception, Off-White has become a worldwide icon. It is worth studying the marketing strategy behind the brand’s unprecedented growth. The creator, Virgil Abloh, explains that its success is due to the public’s willingness to support brands. Young people and millennials are the brand’s primary audience. The careful attention to detail put in by the creator Virgil Abloh and the hype and engagement it receives from millennials’ social media engagements are responsible for the brand’s growth. Fashion accounts are the third most followed accounts on Instagram, closely following lifestyle and music.
Off-White Marketing strategy: The Redefinition of Streetwear and Luxury
Partially, the success of Off-White can be attributed to elevating streetwear into luxury status. “In large part, streetwear is seen as cheap. My goal has been to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible,” said Abloh. In today’s fashion world, consumers are already dictating what they prefer. Vintage Levi’s are as important as an Hermès bag, and they both can be paired together.” Another factor that has contributed to the brands’ success is of course the rise in popularity of Hip Hop culture and streetwear around the world,
Off-White Marketing strategy: Product Accessibility
Along with the rapid shift in spending power amongst generations, a “public that is now prime to support brands” as Abloh wisely expresses. By focusing on the wholistic lifestyle experience rather than the sole clothing Abloh also makes a memorable brand experience centred around the values most prominent to millennials and Generation Z.
Unlike couture, luxury streetwear is becoming an exception to the norm since luxury fashion is normally reserved for the elite. Off–White can do much to make its products more accessible to the very individuals it draws inspiration from, given that the genre’s high prices make it inaccessible to the masses. As part of his 2016 fashion show, Abloh offered tickets to “kids who normally do not receive invites” to his followers. As part of an effort to make his clothing more accessible, Off–White released a newer, cheaper collection, titled “For All,” with clothes priced between $95 and $170, rather than the traditional $300 to $800 range. In this particular line, Off White aimed to expand its target market and revive the diffusion line for streetwear. As a result of more steps such as these, the brand will be able to increase its accessibility to its target consumers.
Off-White Marketing Strategy: Collaborations
There is no doubt that Abloh’s ability to partner with some of the world’s biggest names is instrumental to Off-White’s success, particularly when it comes to collaborating on new releases and collections. There are many famous brands in the music and fashion industries that Off-White has collaborated with. Below is a list of some of the notable collaborations he has done over the years:
Off-White x Kanye West
In 2011, his first collaborative effort was with Kanye West on “Watch the Throne.” The album by Jay-Z and Kanye West was a success and even grew to win a Grammy award.
Off-White x Levi’s
With a modern and ultra-contemporary twist, this collection revisits some of Levi’s most iconic pieces from the Californian denim giant. The classic Trucker Jacket, one of the line’s most sought-after items, was reinterpreted by applying a now-iconic brushstroke of chalk white.
As a transition into Off-White’s high-end distribution, Abloh’s jeans, jackets and coats for Levi’s Made & Crafted’s women’s line are priced from $650 to $1,675. These designs illustrate Abloh’s commitment to gender-neutral dressing and street-smart style. One coat, for example, provides a wide swath of denim in a clean wash complemented by frayed hems, galvanized steel zippers, and large ring pulls to enhance the appearance of the coat. In a futuristic twist on a classic style, the exposed zipper on the jeans is accentuated by a bright white placket.
Off-White x Nike
The “The Ten” project was launched in 2017 by Nike and Off-White. Virgil Abloh, the Founder and CEO of Off-White, initially deconstructed and redesigned ten iconic Nike silhouettes in which the duo used materials such as tulle and plastic. Nike Air Force One, Converse, Nike Blazers, Nike Air Max, and Air Jordans were included in the collaborative effort. During the collaboration, each shoe was broken down individually by Abloh and then reassembled with a different design and rearranged components. The shoes sold out immediately and were extremely sought after.
Off-White x Champion
During 2017, Off-White and Champion developed 16 clothing items together, including sweatshirts, track pants, fleeces, hoodies, and shorts, all of which feature an Off-WhiteTM signature.
Off-White x Jimmy Choo
As a tribute to Lady Diana, the former Princess of Wales, Off-White and Jimmy Choo collaborated on a collection in 2018 that featured crystal studded stilettos wrapped in PVC, quilted boots with an 80’s style, and satin sandals.
Off-White x IKEA
A unique edition rug was produced by IKEA and Off-White as a result of their collaboration on household items targeted at millennials. This collaboration is referred to as a “Marker Ad”, and the designs are not what you would usually find in an IKEA store; they combine minimalism with details and humour to appeal to consumers. For example, IKEA receipt rugs or the “wet grass” rug are examples.
Off-White x Sunglass Hut
collaborated with Off-White between 2018 and 2019 on a project for unisex sunglasses titled “For Your Eyes Only.” Part of the collection included curved cat-eyes, large oval frames, and rectangular frames inspired by the ’90s.
In addition to these collaborations, Off-White has engaged in a number of other collaborations as well. It appears to the online community that any collaboration with the Off-White brand makes quite an impact.
three factors are currently driving Off-White’s profits: the growing popularity of hip hop in the United States, the growing demand for luxury goods among younger consumers, and the growing demand for streetwear. Off–White’s roots, however, are not entirely new. The company began in a small corner store in Harlem owned by couturier Dapper Dan.
As mentioned by Virgil Abloh, Off-White’s history can serve as an example of a brand’s growth and development. Due to its diversity, it is not easily categorized it as a fashion brand or as an art brand. The brand “Off-White,” which Virgil Abloh created, incorporates his diversity and love of creation into it, which makes it capable of fitting into many circles. Virgil Abloh is a DJ, an architect, a graphics designer, and the creative director for Donda.