Long before he even pursued a career in fashion, Virgil Abloh was captivated by design. As he recalls, his initial interest was sparked during his adolescence when he was first introduced to the skate and hip-hop culture. The graphic-heavy streetwear styles and the process that went into making them was fascinating to the Chicago-native, who eventually decided to put his own luxury spin on the genre.
After landing a gig as Kanye West’s creative director, as well as launching his own labels Pyrex Vision and Off-White, Abloh solidified himself as one of the leading forces in the latest wave of high-end street fashion. As part of its ongoing Menswear Monday series, Interview Magazine sat down with Abloh to discuss his inspirations, unparalleled aesthetics, and current outlook on the industry.
Take a look below to read some highlights from the interview, which can be read in its entirety here.
On his contradicting style:
"For me, it's a split between me and my complete opposite. [laughs] It's like a split personality between my true self and a style that I admire. I'm super streetwear—I love that—but then I also love like, a kid from Montreal. I don't know if you know that blogger, JJJJound, but he's the epitome. He is pure GQ. I just got back with my wife from Nantucket, and I just love that lifestyle. So it's both sides of the coin. I love graphics, and I wear plain tees all the time. So all that is Off White: post-Tumblr, post-street style, post-Tommy Ton documenting outfits. This is the brand that represents that."
On skate culture's influence:
"Kids of my generation, there's hundreds of thousands of them that all grew up skateboarding. They all grew up going to their local skate shops and buying a $30 tee. We all learned about our local screen-printer and tried printing our own idea, and then we'd try selling them to our friends, and then we'd give them away. That's my era. Obviously I grew up being really interested in fashion and the history and art of fashion. I saw this opportunity to be among the first of that streetwear generation, to actually elevate it to a high-fashion spirit. So what I'm doing is merging those two worlds, and trying to show just how Parisian our Lower East Side streetwear can get. [laughs] That's my thing."
On his self-teaching methods:
"I grew up as a self-taught shopper. All my education in fashion came from learning the difference between, say, Banana Republic and Louis Vuitton. And with that comes an understanding of different fabrics, fabric qualities, and construction. In that way, it's very similar to architecture. Clothes are just things that are made. The same way that different kinds of wood, or different cuts of tile give a different impression—it's the same principle with fabric. You spend so much time trying to get the right vibe."
On womenswear vs. menswear:
"Women can wear any guy's outfit, whether it's a suit or jeans and a T-shirt. I would say they also have the range to wear something in a very boring way like men or to be full-on expressive. More of what my philosophy is is that menswear can learn a lot of new things from womenswear. Obviously there are many to learn, but I think that menswear, in its strive to become less boring, needs to pull more from womenswear, because I find it generally boring."
[via Interview Magazine]