We no longer present Virgil Abloh. The American designer at the control of Off-White and collector Louis Vuitton is sure of him, full of ideas and always before his time. By his side, Alexandre Arnault, CEO of Rimowa and son of the owner of the luxury group LVMH. Combined through their collaborations, their new vision of luxury, the centuries and even Kanye West, who gathered them in Paris 10 years ago, they confronted their feelings about fashion industry in a crowded space in the world on Friday. Potocki Hotel, Paris, on the occasion of the Vogue Fashion Festival.
Off-White: Internet success in retail development
"Off-White is my diary, a conversation with myself," told Virgil Abloh the audience of journalists, professionals and students in the sector, among which are many fans of the star art director at the moment. Founded in 2014, the Off-White brand began "from the beginning" to build up its image and create a famous logo today. On the side of the French house is the challenge to change the predetermined codes. "My relationship with Louis Vuitton is different. It's a dialogue with the inheritance of a house founded in 1854. But as with Off-White, brand and iconography are still very important." The monogram is a fascinating tool, "admits Virgil Abloh.
On the other hand, the brand is 5.5 million followers on Instagram Virgil Abloh's tanker. "Off-White is the man, it's the woman … It's as much a wedding dress as a sweater," says the designer, known for his multidisciplinary approach and his productive creations, reducing in dozens of media co-operation. A cloudless sky of Virgil Abloh, whose mark was dedicated to the Pleasure Place as the most sought after year. This does not prevent anyone from questioning pricing of goods and whether they belong to luxury or not. "I'm often asked this question," Virgil Abloh said. "Off-White produces in responsible workshops and has a team of 40 well-paid people," he says. He concludes: "In one way, it's the price of creativity."
On October 25, the Off-White doors opened to its Dubai store. And while the brand has been driven to a large extent by social networks and digital boom, the physical channel is still crucial for the founder, who made his career debut in the world of architecture. "Off-White is not an online store," he says, reminiscent of the brand currently having about twenty stores and targeting 40 from next year. All sales areas of the brand are different, according to the rule created by the creator, who wishes to increase value to the customer's experience. "You have to think about the limited editions that are intended to be sold, but also to give away all other products that underlie the brand," he says. He evokes Colette as a physical reference space. Alexandre Arnault, however, prefers the "360 ° relationship with the Apple Store customer".
Product, luxury and cooperation
"Virgil would already collaborate with Rimowa before it was bought by LVMH (2016)", his president said between two laughs of laughter. He recognizes that the thought of the well-known transparent suitcases comes from the creator of Off-White. A style that, according to Alexandre Arnault, contrasts with the current social trend, obsessed with data and confidentiality. "Transparency makes it possible to create links with people. When we expose a little more than what the customer usually sees, it creates a personal link to the collection," says the designer, emphasizing the need to renew the offer to encourage purchase.
"Design can be a very greedy industry," admits Virgil Abloh, while Arnault explains its niche market by taking examples of Apple iPhones. "People do not need more than three suitcases, so you have to develop ideas for them to come back. Not because they need a suitcase, but because they want this suitcase." He concludes with the development of the Cologne-based company: "When We bought Louis Vuitton in the 1980s, the company was in size Rimowa today. We have the potential for growth and I see ourselves positioning ourselves in the niche "functional luxury" as a luxury brand that is desirable and tailored to the needs of the consumer. "As far as collaborations are concerned, the American designer is very clear:" Previously, they were called promotional projects, but for I am the reason for the revival in fashion. "
Virgil Abloh is sometimes the target of criticism due to his lack of education in the sector, reducing his role to the creative director of the "new generation". But he analyzes the phenomenon with reflection. "I think fashion design was different earlier. Today, for a creator it's the most important thing to understand the ecosystem where we live," he analyzes the creative process, the development of parades and the changes caused by the digital explosion. . "The social factor and networks are crucial to this paradigm shift. Consumers not only get a product, they build a relationship with it and create the message." Alexandre Arnault adds: "Before brands dictated what they wanted to sell. But today it's impossible to control a message that can be answered, retweeted or liked ".
According to Virgil Abloh, this change of context also means a development in the concept. "We must question the terms luxury, high fashion, low fashion and streetwear. The meaning of the word" luxury "is linked to previous generations, while what today creates the link is relevant," he explains. A point of view shared by Alexandre Arnault, which ensures he does not appreciate the automatic link between price and luxury. According to him, the concept of luxury should be linked to what makes the original's originality. Leader of a new generation who wants to change game rules, Virgil Abloh concludes: "As a creator, I want to offer consumers the products they can be proud of. I want people to wonder where they are from. The new luxury is to create this emotional connection with the product. "
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