Off-White™ finds itself in an interesting position this season. Virgil Abloh’s label is the first of its kind, a vehicle for making streetwear more legitimate in a space where it once didn't belong. In the process, it has become a valuable luxury brand in itself, a label that caught the eye of LVMH, positioning Abloh for his second job as men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton.
And it seems LVMH is still paying attention to the new luxury and its consumer, recently launching Rihanna's Fenty luxury house. Off-White™, meanwhile, remains part of the New Guards Group, the Italian company that also oversees Palm Angels, Heron Preston, and Marcelo Burlon. So far this season has been all about recollection, from Heron Preston’s New York nostalgia to Alexandre Mattiussi’s return-to-roots meditative menswear at AMI.
For Abloh, the “recycle, reduce, reuse” approach in his Spring/Summer 2020 collection manifests in a few different ways. Titled “PLASTIC,” the show was presented “in conversation” with artist Lenny McGurr, better known as Futura. It made frequent use of his Pointman character, first created for electronic act UNKLE in collaboration with James Lavelle.
Of course, no conversation about plastic comes without talk of sustainability, and the Futura sculpture that stood on the runway contained elements made from recycled plastic, although the artist says he has been exploring different options in the hope of eventually using fully recycled materials one day.
Ever the DJ, Abloh took sampling to new heights with this collection, even seeming to reference his own archive as well as Futura’s. The artist is particularly impressed by how Abloh has taken some of his older paintings and turned them into fabrics for dresses and jackets.
Given that Abloh has a mid-career retrospective currently on display at Chicago’s MCA, it’s understandable that he would feel a bit nostalgic. Here, tie-dyed military trousers and collaborative Nike Dunk Lows with Futura channeled his past works for both Louis Vuitton and Nike.
“Those are unreal,” said Futura of the sneakers backstage. For now, he says, they’re unique to the show, but the artist hopes to see an official release: “I don’t know what’s gonna happen, but I guess based on the response, we have to make them.”
Futura also agrees that Dunks are due for a comeback in general. After all, he’s the artist behind one of the most covetable Nike SB Dunks of all time. But beyond sneakers, Futura is also experiencing a comeback of sorts alongside Abloh, with whom he’s been working in various ways since last season’s Louis Vuitton show.
“I’m very grateful with how he’s working with me and introducing me to a much younger audience,” Futura says. “There’s still a lot of people whom I’d like to put on to my story, and he’s helping me tell that story.”