Despite a recent resurgence in classic menswear tropes, overall, the market remains as casual as ever. The idea of “dressing for the job you want” becomes even more vacuous in a world where teens want to grow up and pursue amorphously cool, seemingly high-earning career paths like “creative director” or “independent branding consultant.”
What even is the uniform for that kind of job? In the past, dressing for success conjured up images of sharp suits, power stripes, and silk ties with the perfect cravat. Then films like American Psycho and designers like Thom Browne and Hedi Slimane came along, turning tailoring and its connotations on its head.
In the professional world too, suiting and start-up culture make for strange bedfellows. It wasn't too long ago staid institutions like the Yale Club and finance giant began relaxing their long-held dress codes, acknowledging the overall casualization of work-appropriate attire.
So too, today's industry giants no longer dress in the corporate raider chic styles of Gordon Gekko or the effortlessly suave industrialist garms of Gianni Agnelli. Instead, we have Mark Zuckerberg in gray T-shirts and Jeff Bezos' persistent puffer vest.
Of course, the Issey Miyake turtlenecks, Levi's 501s, and Macintosh-grey New Balance 990s of the late Steve Jobs have become ironically (and iconically) cool in their own right, but what's clear is that new office dress codes require new ways of conveying aspiration and a power structure.
That serves as the foundational premise of OFF-WHITE's exclusive collection with MR PORTER. Titled “MODERN OFFICE,” the collaboration speaks to power dressing in the age of “work from home” days. It's a uniform for the Slack set, independent creatives who get more done on an iPhone during a flight than a few hours in an office.
After all, that's sort of how someone with an output as high as Virgil Abloh's gets work done. In some ways, the modern office is anywhere with a working WiFi connection. The clothes are eminently casual, but the logos and other OFF-WHITE signature details fit in amongst other wearable status symbols we use to flex upon co-workers.
Quiet aspiration is displaced with visible identifiers of success. They're clothes for business class frequent flyers who used to not look like they belonged there. In the same vein, they're also clothes for people who want to be just that one day.
For more OFF-WHITE, check out the label's Fall/Winter 2019 menswear collection, which just debuted at Paris Fashion Week.