Living creatively begets creativity, and no one embodies that more than fashion designer Virgil Abloh, the mastermind behind the vastly successful clothing brand, Off-White.
Off-White launched in 2013. The haute streetwear brand evolved from Abloh’s first short-lived clothing line, Pyrex. From that start, Off-White has developed a reputation for quality and style all its own. Add to that, millions of Instagram followers, numerous luxury brand collaborations, and celebrity fans like Drake and Jay-Z.
A Vision and A Clothing Brand That Stands Out
The man behind the Off-White clothing brand is just as interesting and bold as the fashion designs themselves. Part DJ, part graphic designer, part architect, and part Ye creative director, Virgil Abloh lives to create.
In interview after interview, Abloh shuns one-dimensional labels and cites “the youth” as his inspiration. He’s also passionate about quality clothing manufacturing, and the value of ethically manufactured apparel products. “Don’t let Zara and Uniqlo educate you on the price of a garment, because that’s not fashion,” he explained to a crowd at the Creativity & Community event at the Apolis Community Centre. “That’s like McDonald’s. Your health is tied to that – a 99-cent nugget.”
It’s no wonder then, that Off-White is Made in Italy – Milan to be exact. For generations, Italian artisans have prided themselves on building a globally recognized fashion industry. By 2020, experts predict that the Italian apparel market will reach a value of more than 42 billion USD.
Off-White, Millennials, and Social Media
Off-White’s success is rooted in the well-designed, Italian-made sneakers, t-shirts, pants, and jackets dictated by Abloh’s careful eye. However, its growth has been propelled by engaging fans on social media and the careful cultivation of the brand’s target consumer: millennials.
Fifty-nine percent of American millennials actively use Instagram. The fact that Off-White the brand and Virgil Abloh the creator also actively use Instagram is no coincidence.
Fashion is the third most-followed type of account on Instagram. Abloh capitalizes on that via creative posts that stand out on the scroll, and by in turn, taking inspiration from what his young and young at heart fans post in turn. His posts speak the millennial language, knows what visuals inspire, and showcases a consistently relatable – if aspirational – presence. He focuses not only on his clothing, but also on the lifestyle that goes with it.
Follow the Virgil Abloh Formula for Success
Fashion industry tastemakers laud Virgil Abloh as a creative genius, but you don’t need to have Kanye’s ear to follow his formula to success.
First, start by creating products in which you can take pride. That means clothing and accessories that don’t compromise on quality and that adhere to your unique vision of what fashion should be. Virgil Abloh used the Made in Italy luxury quality of his clothes to explain and justify the $700 and $1,300 price tags on Off-White’s t-shirts and sweatshirts, and as a way to make a case for the importance and timelessness of Off-White’s product line.
Second, know your target audience. It does no good to create a product that you’re not sure if anyone will buy. A great way to test out whether or not your products will sell is to start with a small batch of a few products. Then, see how those sell, and you can either remake similar product, or edit the pattern you started with to wind up with something that customers want even more.
Lastly, don’t forget to self promote! Social media costs only your time to use, so invest in taking quality pictures of your products, sharing unique images of your products as they’re being made, and creating content that speaks your target customer’s language.
Interested in starting your own quality fashion brand?