Virgil Abloh, the designer of Off-White and admitted Raf Simons disciple, has said "The youth will always win." It's an adage that defines Raf Simons' scope and lasting impact in menswear, an arbiter of subculture who made rebellious ideas wearable. As Kanye West said to after the premiere of his first adidas collection: “You guys know my fucking influences. You see Raf Simons right there.”

Raf Simons has only recently become more known in the realm of hip-hop style, but his clothes have been influencing streetwear and men's fashion for decades. As his namesake label enjoys 20 years of success this year, there's no better time to trace the evolution of his designs and see how even his earliest work parallels today's trends.

Simons began as a graduate of industrial design and furniture design in 1991 from a university in Genk, Belgium, holding internships at the design studio of Antwerp Six member, and current Head of Fashion at the Antwerp Royal Academy of Fine Arts, Walter Van Beirendonck. While Simons wanted to study fashion design at the Royal Academy, he was persuaded instead to go into the field without prior fashion study; starting his menswear label in 1995 at the urging of Linda Loppa—then-Head of Fashion at the Royal Academy. Simons would also note that Margiela’s infamous all-white show in 1991 as a key inspiration for his fashion work.  


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