1. How did the project with Hiroshi Fujiwara for the POOL come about?
This project with Hiroshi Fujiwara came about in the most organic way. We simply met for tea on a trip to Japan after I had met him and Chitose Abe from Sacai in the lobby of my hotel. Both of them being huge inspirations in how I understand culture and design made it an honor to cross paths.
2. Why did you want to spin off Off-White into OFF-BLACK ℅ VIRGIL ABLOH? Is it a new brand? Will this collection continue or is the plan to make it a covetable one-off?
The challenge of Off-Black was the initial concept to explore another spirit of my label Off-White. Further information on future iterations of the concept are unknown but we are stressing the importance with the launch that the concept is alive.
3. Can you talk about any nuances or design elements that are particular to this collection and collaboration? Why did Melanism link to Massai? How did you decide on the product line up? What are the key materials? How many of each piece are being made (limited edition).
The design process unites Hiroshi Fujiwara and myself. From an initial word “melanism” and the context within the concept shop POOL we created a study on the color black. I was inspired by modernizing the Masai motif. There was a synergy we explored by the definition of the word melanism and the rich and the colorful side of the color black.
The collection is largely made in Italy, with researched fabrics all from Europe. This initial run of product is limited but future editions of the launch would vary if released.
4. Have you been to the POOL-what is your impression?
Yes indeed, I love POOL. I love conceptual retail. In an evolving e-commerce world, concept retail is very important. POOL is an important and reputable gallery to frame the context behind thoughtful design.
5. What is it about Japanese street wear for men that makes it so unique and distinctive?
For me Japan is the pinnacle of this genre of fashion in large part due to the early work of Hiroshi himself. The attention to detail, ambition to withhold authenticity and international sourcing makes Japan an epicenter for past and current movements in streetwear.
6. How have you been influenced by Japanese street wear brands or street fashion/culture? Any product or moment stand out for you?
My first trips to Japan were in 2003. I had actually met Hiroshi Fujiwara, Kazuki Kuraishi, Nigo, Toby Feltwell and such during this era. At the same time I was spending time in New York on Rivington Street at Alife, Nom de Guerre, Supreme, and later aNYThing. Being American and being immersed in both the cultural scenes form my vision today in this new era of streetwear.
Product wise I still covet and own things like original Bapestas, Hiroshi’s iDiom dot print Burton jacket, Levis fragment jeans etc.
7. What does it mean to you to work with Hiroshi Fujiwara? What in particular -specific collections or projects- caught your attention, and how did you discover him?
It’s an absolute honor. As a fan of streetwear I knew his contemporary work in the early 2000s. But it was enhanced by a recent gallery project I partook in where my work was curated next to the Malcolm McLaren estate in Copenhagen in 2014. When drawing comparison between the work done around fashion, music and the arts I was inspired to learn Hiroshi’s connection with Malcom McLaren. Their influence had a lasting impact. That link that has had a dramatic effect on trends, street culture and the arts alone to this day.
8. Any interesting or fun anecdotes that took place during the project?
There’s many, but what I love is they are hidden in the details of the product made. Look close, you’ll see it.
9. The Anarchy symbol is remixed using your two logos/typfaces- Hiroshi has long been informed by Vivienne/Malcolm, anarchy, punk. Does anarchy inform your work? If so, in what way?
Indeed, the root of my point of view is youth culture and its relation to the generation that sets the rule above it. I feel a responsibility to do right by how Vivienne/Malcom/Hiroshi presented their ideas and how I continue that tradition.
I’m a fashion designer but not a typical one. Largely because this heritage to represent my current culture in a fashion context. I believe in the future just as much as the past.
10. How has working on this project disrupted or informed your work?
I’m constantly designing so everything is disruptive. I’m more inspired by being busy than being bored.
11. What’s coming up next?
On the horizon is my next Spring-Summer 2016 women’s collection under Off-White. Europe is back from vacation so my team is making a final push for my first presentation which will take place during the upcoming Paris fashion week.