When he was 22, Mr. Abloh met Kanye West. This relationship put him on the road to Paris when, in 2009, Mr. West signed an agreement for a sneaker collaboration with Louis Vuitton, and he and his creative team, including Mr. Abloh, left for the week of fashion and have become the topic of conversation. the season. (A group photo of Mr. West, Mr. Abloh and their associates outside a show went viral online and was even satirized on “South Park.”)
“Streetwear wasn’t on anyone’s radar, but the kind of after-show dinner chat was like, ‘Fashion needs something new. It’s stagnant. What will be the novelty? This was the timeline I was developing my ideas on, ”Abloh said later. GQ. It was also around this time that he and Mr. West began a six-month internship at Fendi, earning $ 500 per month and learning the trade from the inside out.
In 2010, he became Creative Director of Donda, Mr. West’s creative incubator, helping turn Mr. West’s ideas into reality (his laptop has been described by rapper Pusha T as “a library of everything. which was aesthetically beautiful and relevant ”).
Two years later, Mr. Abloh and two other men he had met through Donda, Mr. West’s creative incubator, teamed up to create Been Trill, a creative DJ and collective. This then evolved into a brand called Pyrex Vision, originally conceived as an art project with clothing, which later evolved into Off-White – a winding, collaborative creative journey that became a hallmark of Mr. Abloh, as well as his use of quotes and winks. allegiance to what he called The New Yorker “The three percent rule” and in a Harvard Conference “Cheat codes”: the idea that you can take an existing design and tweak it a bit, and it will be branded as a new one.
And while the fashion world was initially happy to classify Off-White as a streetwear brand and push Mr. Abloh into that box, from the start he told GQ: “I was adamant: it is not a streetwear brand. It is not a contemporary brand. He’s a designer, the same way X, Y, Z are designers, where you say their name and it carries all that esteem and emotion.
For this, he brought his shows to Paris, applied for the LVMH Young Designers Prize (he was a finalist in 2015), and adopted women’s and men’s ready-to-wear.