Virgil Abloh launches Nike basketball at Columbia University

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On Monday evening, Virgil Abloh spoke about Marcel Duchamp and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, then he dropped a sneaker. “The shoes, which he brought a sample to his conference at Columbia University, are the result of a collaboration between his brand Off-White and Nike. The shoe that came with Mr. Abloh was a men’s high top shoe (looked like a Jordan). He gave another glimpse – on his presentation screen – of a women’s shoe, in black, with the swoosh removed and then glued back onto Off-White’s Helvetica font. We can’t know when it will go on sale, but streetwear stalkers can stop buzzing about the long-term collaboration. It happens. As for Mies van der Rohe and Duchamp, they were referenced in a talk Abloh gave at Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation where he explained that loaded in his work – the Off-White hoodies of $ 570 sold at Barneys New York – are the messages of these great thinkers and creators, which he would like to pass on to the younger generation. To hear him say it, you can have them all in this shoe.

The crowd waiting outside Avery Hall was unusual in both numbers and numbers of citizens. The crowd – at least as many Hypebeast kids as design students – had come to hear a talk from starchy otherness, Virgil Abloh, who rose to prominence as Kanye West’s creative director, but also holds the title of architect (he studied architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology), DJ and fashion designer. While rumors circulate that Abloh is in the running to succeed Riccardo Tisci at Givenchy (he declined to comment), it was under the latter designation – as the man behind Off-White, the singularly popular and transformative streetwear brand of Abloh, a favorite of West, Kendall Jenner and other Instagram gods, which Abloh has been invited to speak on.

Off-White is not an architectural practice, a notion at the heart of Abloh’s discourse. “Young architects can change the world by not constructing buildings,” he said, an irony he adopted (although he would have helped design the Off-White stores in Hong Kong and Tokyo ) as the theme of all his creative projects. The talk was officially titled “Quote Quotes,” but he said he pitched that name when it was presented; everything has to be improvised, for fear of being taken too seriously. “You don’t have to be a designer to be a designer” is his contradictory credo.

He sees Off-White as a multidisciplinary creative platform of which fashion – or to hear it put it, the complete upheaval in fashion – is just one aspect. Explaining what brought him to Off-White’s $ 570 hoodies, the collaboration with Nike, and the rumored quest to dominate a classic French house, he went from the universality of the pavilion to Barcelona from Mies van der Rohe to Duchamp’s reimagining of what art could be, for children he wants to inspire Prince and Mercer to the importance of Instagram influencers he “co-signed”, like Luka Sabbat and Ian Connor .

It was a dispersed and lively conversation, dominated by the idea that branding, design, logos, deejaying, youth culture and above all the commercial products it touches are part of something more. broad and cannot be separated from s. He says he wants to democratize fashion, to free it. When asked how he could stick to these principles when loading an arm and a leg for the most part, he claimed he wanted to use Off-White to inspire and educate young people, those who cannot dream. to buy his product, to create the next Off-White.

It’s up to the children. And as if it were a choreography, just after the end of Abloh’s lecture, several young people descended the steps of Columbia University, under the firm gaze of Alma Mater, talking about Duchamp. They were perplexed, even worried. What their teacher had told them about the Concept Artist, and what they had read, conflicted with what Abloh was saying. Dadaism and Concept Artist weren’t really about selling sneakers, but they weren’t sure. They needed to be more interested in it.

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