It ought to surprise no one that even months after Virgil Abloh's passing, his impact continues rippling through the fashion industry. Hence why this Off-White™ x Church's collaboration is worth at least a moment of quiet contemplation.
Though this is the kind of team-up that'd probably be regarded as yet another worthy feather in Abloh's cap were he still around, the collection takes on new relevance in light of his death.
See, this $1,250 Church's Burwood oxford — available now on Church's website and soon on Off-White™'s web store — is one of the last partnerships that Abloh personally oversaw. Product aside, that's saying something.
But the product itself is, of course, quintessential Abloh.
First seen at the Fall/Winter 2022 Off-White™ runway show — again, the last one he had direct purview over — this first drop (there's another en route) comprises a single genderless shoe style, anchored by Abloh's overt cheekiness and a subtle riff on legacy.
Abloh's adroit revision of conventional elegance is, like I said, obvious and subtle.
Church's itself is nearly 250 years old — it was established in 1873 — and its Burwood silhouette was first seen in 1953, so it follows that Abloh would leave that element of heritage intact. No wild upper or wacky outsole here.
Instead, Abloh affixed a leather version of his trademark hangtag to the shoe and dressed it in cotton shoelaces (printed with "SHOELACES," naturally) rather than the usual leather laces. He also screen-printed "SPECIAL EVENTS" text across the lateral side of the shoe.
Therein lies the clever underpinning of past and present: you have Abloh's usual playful preoccupation with textual interplay but there's also a quieter undermining of tropes.
For instance, the full brogue that graces his Burwood's upper is relatively unusual for a dressy shoe — most tailoring-type dudes prefer an unbrogued derby as a daily driver — so the "SPECIAL EVENTS" text doesn't just mean that these are fancy shoes: it also plays with the idea of how rarely one would normally wear fully brogued oxfords.
Plus, the sneaker-style laces utterly undermine any staid menswear notions.
Speaking of, more posthumous Abloh footwear designs are currently in the works, apparently. Nothing as dressy as this or the next Church's team-up, of course.