In December 2012, Virgil Abloh released the now-iconic campaign for Pyrex Vision. It was before he would launch his metaphorical follow-up and massively popular label Off-White. It was before he made history with his appointment as creative director of Louis Vuitton Men’s in 2018. For many people, it was their introduction to Abloh and his vision. The video was soundtracked by a Joy Division song, featured Jim Joe spray-painting messages on a white wall, and various members of the then-upcoming ASAP Mob modeling the clothing. The clothes themselves were an amalgamation of cultural references like Renaissance paintings, Michael Jordan’s jersey number, and nods to drug raps by artists like Pusha T. Tremaine Emory, creator and close personal friend of Abloh, considered the arrival of Pyrex Vision as Abloh’s way to level the playing field. 

“Caravaggio is no better than fucking DJ Premier. They’re both artists. One’s not on a higher level. And DJ Premier is no better than Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan, Pusha T, and Caravaggio are all valid, incredible artists. We’ll put them all together on a hoodie. It changed everything,” Emory tells Complex. “He unified the disciplines. He unified the separation created by the 1% that wants to tell you that a Picasso is worth more than a Frank Ocean album because there’s only one Picasso and everyone can buy a Frank Ocean album. It’s not worth more. These are just made up validation indexes. Frank Ocean’s Blonde album is just as valid as a Picasso and vice versa. That’s what Pyrex Vision is.”

Fast forward almost 10 years and Emory is introducing his followers to Pyrex Vision in a new way with Pyrex Tears. The capsule is a collaboration with Abloh’s creative studio Alaska Alaska that was approved by his wife Shannon, and fuses the signature motifs of Pyrex Vision with Emory’s Denim Tears. Unfortunately, Abloh is no longer with us. He tragically died in November 2021 of cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare cancer. This capsule collection is Emory’s way to represent his return. 

“That’s why Christ is Black, to represent Virgil and his return,” says Emory in reference to the painting by Cecco del Caravaggio, one of Caravaggio’s closest followers, depicting the resurrection of Christ that is plastered on the front of the Pyrex Tears hoodie. “But not his return in the flesh, his return through the memory of his friends and family and his art. That’s Virgil’s afterlife.”

The “23” that was used on OG Pyrex Vision pieces as a nod to Jordan has been replaced with “45,” a subtle nod to the jersey number that Jordan wore the first time he came back to the Chicago Bulls following his first retirement. Emory stayed true to the essence of Abloh’s original project by printing on Champion blanks. Unfortunately, they could only source 12 vintage Ralph Lauren Rugbys, the same canvas infamously used by Abloh in 2012, so they will not be releasing as part of the collection. 

“If we could have found 1,000, if we could have found 500 Rugby flannels, that’s how many we would’ve made,” says Emory. “But it’s also an art project, doing it exactly the same way with my interventions in the collaboration. That’s what makes it a collaboration.”

Rugby flannels aside, the Pyrex Tears collection will be released on Tuesday, Sept. 6. T-shirts ($150), hoodies ($350), and mesh shorts ($100) will each be available via the Denim Tears website, canary—yellow.com, and the “Figures of Speech” gift shop at the Brooklyn Museum.

Along with the new collab, Emory also discussed Abloh’s lasting legacy. It extends far beyond what he created with brands like Louis Vuitton or Nike.

“If anyone thinks the continuation of Virgil’s legacy is at Louis Vuitton, you’re sorely wrong,” says Emory. “The continuation of his legacy is his wife, his mom, his sister, his dad, his kids, his friends, and his art. Louis Vuitton was just a brand that was very lucky to have him. Nike is just a brand that was very lucky to have him. So, there is no successor. Congratulations to whoever comes after Virgil, but it’s really not my concern.”

Ahead of the Pyrex Tears drop, we spoke with Emory about what went into creating this tribute to his late friend, how Pyrex Vision has inspired him creatively, Abloh’s lasting impact, and more.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.