Does Off-White Women's Prove Virgil Abloh Was Trolling All Along?

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Complex Original

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By now you know about Virgil Abloh's new Off-White collection, so there's no need to re-explain the high-end Pyrex Vision derivative. That's not shade, either. The RSVP Gallery website (which is owned by Abloh himself) describes the label as "an on-going theme based off the incentive concept of Pyrex Vision." But the fact remains, Off-White is simply a collection of high-end graphic prints, even if they are made in Italy.

I can't speak on the quality of the garments, but if there is somewhere they skimp on, it's innovation. The artwork is lifted from Caravaggio, the numbering can be seen on any high school football jersey across the country and the diagonal line pattern motif is reminiscent of construction sites and crosswalks. Even the beautiful, hand-stitched numbering on the back of the army jacket was replaced with ink for production. That's all fine, I'm just sure as shit not paying $550 for one of those hoodies. But I think it's somewhat unfortunate that Abloh's aesthetic has become a scarlet letter for fashion victims rather than the visual signifier of a youth-led creative movement he so wants it to be.

Honestly, both Pyrex Vision and Off-White straight up make me question Virgil's actual skills as a designer. The product he makes with Been Trill doesn't help his case either. It's all representative of a designer that appears to only see in two dimensions. Things like fit and fabric always seem to come secondary to what is printed on top of them. That's why it's so shocking to see the first look from the women's offshoot of Off-White, entitled "I Only Smoke When I Drink." While the name of the offering is much less self-serious, the look is sophisticated, elevated and, dare I say, chic.

Does this mean that Been Trill, Pyrex Vision and Off-White have all been one big troll? Was Virgil's intention to simply serve the lowest common denominator—the so-called "label whores"—while simultaneously jacking up prices to benefit his own financial desires? I guess it's too soon to tell, but, fuck it, let's play around with some possibilities.

Not everyone has the privilege to learn on the fly, but if ultimately it lead to him having the knowledge and capital to craft truly beautiful and well-thought out women's pieces, then more power to him.

If we admit that, yes, he simply wanted to make a huge profit with his men's clothing, while masquerading it as some sort of creative feat, then we shouldn't be all that surprised because we suspected it from the beginning. Really, the biggest complaint with the clothes has been the outrageous prices, but if people buy the clothes then, well, they buy the clothes, so that's on them as consumers. Abloh never held a gun to anyone's head even if his relationship with Kanye West certainly pushed a lot of people in his direction and gave his products an inherent cool factor. Shit, isn't minimal work with maximum payoff the fucking American Dream to begin with? Is this simply a "U MAD" moment?

If we want to take him at his word—that everything he has done has been his best efforts as a designer and a creative—then we can't really fault him for sucking early on. Not everyone has the privilege to learn on the fly, but if ultimately it lead to him having the knowledge and capital to craft truly beautiful and well-thought out women's pieces, then more power to him. In this scenario, I kind of just feel bad for the people who paid for $550 bootleg Rugby flannels and $275 Champion hoodies. They essentially financed Abloh's creative aspirations and paid top dollar to get a person's least ambitious work.

Ultimately, we have to ask ourselves what exactly Virgil's end game is. Hopefully, in the future, if this women's collection proves successful, we in menswear will be able to see what Virgil is actually capable of. It might not just be better product, but also give him credibility within the fashion world whether he thinks he needs it or not (I think he does). Profits and money are great, but numbers and Baroque paintings on shirts are on their way out if they're not gone already. The shit that will endure will do so because it simply won't look dated in 10 years, let alone 10 minutes. I guess all there is to do now is wait to see what comes next. And Virgil certainly has our attention now more than ever.

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