PFW: Off-White shows without Virgil Abloh
By Don-Alvin Adegeest
27 Sep 2019
Virgil Abloh was nowhere to be found after Off-White's catwalk presentation during Paris Fashion Week, even if it didn't deter ardent fans to stay away.
Abloh, who is recovering from stress in Chicago on doctor's orders, looked upwards to the cosmos for SS20, showing circular holes resembling meteor craters, as seen on an oversized t-shirts, on white space boots, trousers and accessories.
The theme was foreshadowed by the show's opening, which heard the voice of Dr Mae Jemison, the first black woman to travel in space, echoing the importance of creativity.
For his streetwear fans, these items will be instantly recognisable when they become available at retail, but there was attention to detail in other ways, like a pretty shirt dress that opened the show which nodded to a 90s minimalism. A parachute dress in cornflower blue and leather edging showed Abloh's conceptual slant.
Many question Abloh's absence
Abloh's absence was, of course, the subject du jour, and the underlying fact that he is the face of the brand. Many are pondering Off-White's future, how it could look without the star designer, who is also under contract at Louis Vuitton. But even with Abloh's full attention, he was rumoured to take up to 8 flights a week jetting the globe for both brands hence the need to stay put in Chicago, the question remains what is the future of Off-White?
In a Facebook Group called High Fashion Talks, the sentiment was clear. One member said: “They can really benefit from that as a way to ‘refresh’ on their clothing which can be kind of redundant sometimes." Another mused “Imagine a mass-produced Off-White hitting the middle markets instead, I reckon they could wipe the floor with high street brands."
Demand for Off-White is slowing down
Data from Edited, a retail analytics company, were published on Business of Fashion this week and reveal "demand for Off-White products at US retailers is slowing down. The number of sold-out products on Farfetch is down 50 percent year-over-year, and the number of discounted items is up 7 percent. During the sales in July, 40 percent of the brand's products were discounted, up from 30 percent the same period the prior year. For the year through August, the value of earned media about the brand on social media decreased 38 percent versus the same period a year earlier, according to Tribe Dynamics."
Earlier this month Abloh told American Vogue he felt "tired" and decided to visit a doctor. "Ultimately, everything is fine," said Abloh. "But the doctor told me 'this pace that you've sort of pushed your body—to fly all these miles, do all these different projects—is not good for your health.'"
Perhaps taking the time to physically recover will also inspire his strategy for Off-White's future.
Photo credit: Off-White SS20, Catwalkpictures.com