This most recent Louis Vuitton fashion show at Men’s Paris Fashion Week was a monumental one in terms of the hype building up around the show regarding Virgil Abloh, creator of Off-White, and his first collection as the head artistic director of Louis Vuitton. This was a monumental moment in fashion itself as Virgil is the first African American artistic director of the famous Paris fashion house and one of the few to be a leading influence at the level he is at. What Virgil has been able to accomplish in what seems like just a couple years time from his beginnings with his brand Pyrex Vision to Off-White to his collection with Nike it seems that Virgil has almost reached the pinnacle. To Virgil Abloh though I believe he cares more about just spreading the culture that he was brought up into this industry in.
Virgil Abloh and Kanye West have known each other and have been close creative partners since the early 2000s. Virgil has worked on a lot of different projects with Kanye before ultimately breaking off to step out of Kanye’s shadow, not necessarily creatively but Virgil wanted to make a name for himself. Virgil did this by creating his brand Pyrex Vision back in 2012 which was his first venture into the world of high fashion. Pyrex Vision consisted mostly of screen printing onto Champion blanks and old Ralph Lauren flannels, not exactly revolutionary, but Virgil was able to charge upwards of 500 dollars for the pieces and they would sell. Virgil eventually folded the brand and started Off-White with a crew of Italian streetwear aficionados. Off-White would pick up right where Pyrex Vision left off charging astronomical prices for mostly screen printed streetwear. But Off-White would grow into a Nike collaboration and establish it as one of the most sought-after brands in streetwear today. This would ultimately be Virgil’s foot in the door when it came to breaking into the world of high fashion houses like Louis Vuitton.
Now during Men’s Paris Fashion Week everyone patiently waiting to see what Virgil would do with his introductory show as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton. Virgil showcased to the world and to everyone in attendance a beautiful gradient painted pavement runway outdoors in a garden in Paris. Virgil really delivered when it came to the overall presentation of the environment around the garments. But the garments and accessories were nothing like Louis Vuitton has ever had before from transparent gradient rainbow luggage to ceramic white chains draped over the models and as straps for the luggage. After having various streetwear icons and celebrities from the likes of Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, Blondey McCoy and A$AP Nast you can really tell that this show was all about the culture that Virgil Abloh came from. That is why Kanye, seated front row, when Virgil walked out at the end got so emotional. Kanye was able to see one of his very close friends and collaborators not only ascend to the pinnacle of fashion for African Americans today but was able to be a part of it with his new album being played during the show. Kanye has been skeptical of Virgil leaving his side and branching out in becoming one of today’s fashion moguls but he’s finally been able to come to terms with it in this most recent embrace at the end of Virgil’s very first show as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton.
It’s no secret that when it comes to men’s fashion today footwear, especially sneakers, have a huge impact on the culture today. From designers like Virgil Abloh reimagining ten of Nike’s classic sneakers, which many of them eclipse the thousand dollar price range on the second-hand market, to him becoming the head artistic director to Louis Vuitton, the two worlds are merging. The world of rare sneakers and streetwear coming side by side to become just as coveted as high-end designer clothing just proves how much the culture is shifting. This change has been made clear in many recent fashion weeks by just observing what the crowd and models are wearing on their feet. This most recent Milan Men’s Fashion Week was no different for you could have seen a plethora of rare sought after sneakers on the feet of attendees and models.
This most recent Milan Men’s Fashion Week you were able to witness not just sought after sneakers from brands like Nike and Adidas but also from designer brands like Louis Vuitton and Dior. The fact that you are able to see designers like Raf Simons and Alexander Wang collaborating on sneakers with Adidas just shows that fashion is bridging the gap between the street and the high end. But also with high-end designer brands coming out with stylish almost sport-inspired sneakers like the Louis Vuitton Archlight, you can really observe the true influence of sneakers on fashion.
Sneakers in fashion today is something that doesn’t just bring together fans of streetwear and fans of high-end fashion but brings together two different generations of those who enjoy fashion. You see many important designers and artists today you have a strong connection to Jordan Brand and their classic retro sneakers. You can see the artistic director of Dior Kim Jones constantly in exclusive Jordans not just from his friend Virgil Abloh but rare collabs like the Jordan Fragment One. You may also see the inspiration that Jordan has had on other designers for their own sneakers. You can see this inspiration in many forms whether it is Yves Saint Laurent’s high-top court sneaker that takes many cues from the Jordan One shape and classic colorways to Fear of God’s Jerry Lorenzo taking many similar points of inspiration into his Basketball sneaker.
Whether many in the world of high fashion want to believe it or not the culture is shifting. It is shifting in a way that displays subcultures like sneakerheads taking a major lead when it comes to their inspiration on the world of fashion. Whether it be that these old school sneakerheads are the ones that are influencing high fashion today or that high fashion designers are just taking cues from this culture who has people lining up every week for a pair of shoes just based on their exclusivity. There is something satisfying to many if you have a pair of shoes that the person next to you on the street wasn’t able to acquire not because of the price tag but because you simply worked harder and you can see this at this most recent Milan Men’s Fashion Week and you will see it at many fashion weeks to come.
When many people think of a meme you’ll usually think of some kind of online trend or joke that becomes adopted by multiple different subcultures and is used in their own way to portray their own joke or message. Overtime with the internet becoming more and more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds memes today has become somewhat of this watered down joke that dies out within almost a month of its relevance. Memes often go to die in a few places whether it’s the Yodel kid appearing on the Ellen show or your mother or father oversaturating their Facebook page with memes they really don’t understand. Now apparently there is a new category of a meme within the menswear community, this meme just consists of wearing a shoe that is considered by most within the world of fashion as trendy. It doesn’t just consist of shoes through a few garments also fall into this category according to popular menswear subreddits and online blogs. With the use of the word meme to describe certain garments and products it just raises the argument are trends just memes within the world of fashion?
With certain shoes being regarded as memes today for menswear communities it opens the discussion as to how these shoes achieved their meme status. Most of these shoes are just menswear staples that any man should have in their closet as opposed to something of a meme that comes and goes. You have classic men’s shoes like the Adidas Stan Smith being referred to as the ‘Meme’ Smiths and Clark’s Desert Boots being thrust into this category of a meme as if they are loud out there shoes that will not be relevant in a few months. These are shoes that have been around for many years and may have recently become a little more popular than they were maybe 20 years ago but that is no reason to classify the shoes as memes. Sometimes when a shoe or garment isn’t as popular and widespread but it is a quality product that can apply to many different peoples wardrobes all it needs is that reintroduction into the mainstream in order to boost its popularity and make many realize that this is something they need in their closet. Now, this doesn’t mean meme to me even though it has gained popularity because the Stan Smith is something every man needs in their wardrobe which is a white leather sneaker and the Desert Boot falls into the same exact category of something every man can use to sophisticate any outfit without doing too much. This may scream meme too many online menswear communities but these are simply just efforts by the average man to make more fashion conscious decisions when it comes to their footwear and to overall become introduced to fashion as a whole, which is a good thing.
With all this recent change of popular shoes achieving this new found ‘meme-dom’ it raises the argument is there an equivalent within women’s fashion? Women’s fashion is mostly regarded as being centered around developing somewhat of a personal style not relying on a few key items within their closet to achieve their ‘unique’ look. I personally disagree with this and if you are going to talk about menswear having its own memes womenswear definitely has its own memes. From riding boots, the white Converse Chuck Taylor and the ever so hated ‘spartan’ sandal women’s footwear definitely has its own memes just the online discussion isn’t as great, but they are there. That doesn’t mean those are memes either these are just products that a lot of women purchase because they are popular and reliable for them. I don’t think online communities should be describing different shoes as memes but you can’t stop the discussion from happening and you can’t stop more and more men from buying these shoes, so the discussion on what is and is not a meme within menswear will continue.
Instagram account Diet Prada is an account that specializes in pointing out the not so coincidental copying that goes on in the world of fashion today. As we all know there is no problem with drawing inspiration from someone whether it be their design, runway setup, or just the overall theme of a collection. But there is a very clear difference between pulling inspiration from something or someone and blatantly stealing an idea and crediting it as your own. Diet Prada since their first post in 2014 calling out Raf Simons for using designs very similar to Prada, hence the name, has been diligent to point out those who do not give credit where it is due.
In Diet Prada’s most recent claim they are accusing Kanye West of taking the ideas of photographer Minissi and a series of photographs she took in 2015 that explored identity and the wanted of oneself to reconnect with their own body, a very deep subject. I believe what Diet Prada feels what Mr. West is most guilty of is the fact that he drew inspiration from this very deep emotional photo shoot and turned it into a not safe for work sneaker advertisement. Myself, similarly to Diet Prada see it as a little distasteful considering the subject matter of the original photographs.
This would not be the first time though that Diet Prada has made claims against not just Kanye West but the West family in general. In July of 2017 Diet Prada accused Kim Kardashian West of very blatantly using the designs of Comme Des Garcon designer Rei Kawakubo and Vetements designer Demna Gvasalia for children’s pieces for Kim’s brand The Kids Supply. Kim said that the pieces were being made as an homage to the designers and that the pieces would be named after them, clearing the air about the whole copycatting fiasco. But Diet Prada was not done there also accusing Kim of ripping off the makeup done on Beyonce for a Flaunt magazine cover for Kim’s makeup collection, which Kim did not address. The last claim Diet Prada made against the West’s though was when Kanye in May tweeted sketches that appeared to be taken directly from ex-Nike designer Tony Spackman just with his name for the sketches photoshopped off the top of the sketch. This was another accusation that Kanye would not address.
With these most recent accusations made by Diet Prada against Kanye West, many are left unsurprised by his actions. Many without real ears to the ground in this industry and this culture believe that Kanye West is a very original one of a kind thinker when it comes to his ideas. What many don’t know is that Kanye West just like all of us draws inspiration from the things he hears and sees around him in his day to day life. The only problem with what he’s doing right now is by not giving credit to this original photographer, if that is where he drew the inspiration from, he is disrespecting the whole entire series of photographs she did and the message behind them. The fact that he recreated them as a way for him to sell sneakers too just adds salt to the wound.
When it comes to online shopping, something we all do, myself like many others I’m sure peruses the internet all day looking at the newest fashion, technology, and products to just look and nothing more than that. Online shopping is centered around being able to have anything you want at your doorstep in few days but now with programs like Amazon Prime practically the next day. One thing many might not realize is that according to a study done by the University of Pennsylvania that men are in fact the biggest spenders when it comes to online shopping. This has nothing to do with the fact that men have more money to online shop or that they shop more it mostly just comes down to the fact that men love the convenience of not having to physically go to a store, look through all the products and just generally not really know what they are buying. For men who shop online for big money items, they are able to read reviews and look through thousands of options for finally coming to the grand decision of what they are going to buy. This introduces a whole new kind of opportunity to create a luxury online shopping location catered towards men.
Of course, you are going to have high fashion brands have their own websites like Louis Vuitton or Gucci who have perfected their online shopping experience to be catered to those who are in the market for a luxury product, but how can this be expanded upon. Websites all over the internet like Grailed and StockX have popped up not for just the teenager who wants to buy or sell Supreme online but for men who have or want high-end designer clothing and expensive sneakers and have a marketplace for them. Grailed especially is catered towards designer clothing but also features sneakers. The average teenage sneakerhead isn’t usually going to be interested in Margiela, Raf Simons or Rick Owens but Grailed creates a stage for the more established financially well-off men’s fashion connoisseur to be able to purchase and sell these products that come with a serious price tag, with many products reaching over one thousand dollars. Where StockX comes into the equation is not necessarily in securing men as the majority demographic in spending at least one thousand dollars on the internet but it creates something totally different. StockX allows the slightly older sneakerhead who most likely has a better job and maybe a family to be able to buy the sneakers he wants, guaranteed legit, at a fair market price and he doesn’t have to meet up with some teenager to purchase them. I believe over time the older sneakerhead will use StockX for most of his transactions and he could easily eclipse over a thousand dollars spent on sneakers just on that website alone.
With premium men’s online shopping popping up more and more every day on the internet and the fact that the average man just doesn’t prefer the experience of walking into a physical store to shop it’s no surprise that men’s retail locations are going to decline sooner rather than later. While many men who are seriously interested in fashion and almost the artistry that goes into the displays and aesthetic of a retail store many men do not share these views. There will always be a premium men’s shopping experience in fashion-forward cities like New York and Los Angeles, but for the average man who just enjoys sitting in his home to make his more major purchases, the internet will continue to deliver that to him and to his doorstep.
As body positivity for women continues to expand every day for women on the internet, in stores and just in everyday conversation the conversation hasn’t necessarily shifted towards talking about body positivity for men. While more and more plus sized women break into the world of fashion and modeling the landscape is still not set for plus sized men to make their push into the forefront. When it comes to covers of magazines and runway shows this most recent New York Fashion Week incorporated a decent amount of plus-sized women’s models the men were somewhat nonexistent with only about one being featured for Asos. Asos already has a section of their website dedicated to plus-sized men and women and are taking strides in giving them fashionable options without shaming them for their bodies.
The importance of men’s body positivity when it comes to fashion is that in the fashion you want clothes that will fit cleanly and look good overall different types of body types, because you are marketing not just to people who are into fashion that are thin. A lot of people personally struggle with coming to terms that the fashion they may love and admire may not be something they can never wear. When you create a collection or a product most designers want whoever appreciates their art and image to be able to purchase and wear their product. This isn’t always the case though when it comes to high fashion designers who mostly model their clothes not just after women that are far thinner and taller than the average woman but for men that have unachievable body standards. For men, I feel it comes in a much different light than for women but male models usually consist of two different body types lean and muscular or just very thin. This becomes an issue for plus sized men when they are online and in-store shopping because they see a product on the rack or on a website and immediately know that this garment will not drape over their body the way the designer intended it to.
The whole stigma that comes with being plus sized in the world today is one that can be very degrading for people. It is something that will affect one’s confidence and the way they try to portray themselves too the world and the least they deserve is to feel confident and comfortable in the clothes they wear. The responsibility of promotion of a positive outlook on plus-sized men and women comes on that of the designers, magazines and clothing companies to find a niche for these people who still definitely have a huge voice and impact on the world of fashion. What companies like Asos providing fashion-forward options and opportunities to not just plus sized women but men even including them in their fashion week runways is something a lot of companies should take notes from. It’s going to take the effort of not just one company to change the outlook on plus-sized men in fashion and just body positivity for men in general, but I think with the trend of body positivity when it comes to women things are moving in the right direction.
Nike has tried many mash-ups of its classic sneakers in the past that just left people confused as to why Nike would come out with a product that no one was asking for. From the any of the fusion Jordans to taking the Air Max 95 and combining it with the Roger Federer Air Zoom Vapor, many of these mashups simply just leave sneaker-heads saying why Nike? This time around Nike is unveiling a new colorway of the loved and hated Nike mash up the Forceposite. This mashup of the classic Air Force One and Penny Hardaway’s Foamposite is coming out in a colorway that might change the way people look at the Forceposite. By taking one of the classic Foamposite colorways, ‘Metallic Red’ this Nike is reaching out to the true Foamposite heads and giving them something to move into a different silhouette. Nike has dropped multiple Forceposites in the past and many of the colorways and silhouettes have flopped, but these might be the Forceposite that gives the mash-up sneaker a better reputation and separates itself from the pack.
The Nike Air Force One is in the middle of a little bit of a resurgence for Nike at the moment. Over about the last year, you can see Nike Air Force Ones on the feet of celebrities and influencers all over the world for a few reasons. After rolling out 3 different iterations of the shoe with Virgil Abloh’s Off-White Nike came through and gave the people what they wanted with more Air Force One collaborations. From a collaboration paying homage to a very sought after Roc-A-Fella records, a collab with Just Don’s very creator and head designer Don C, and lastly probably the most hyped of all the full canvas upper Air Force One that featured detachable swooshes and lace covers that they worked with rapper Travis Scott on. Nike and its signature Air Force One was approaching the pinnacle of what made the sneaker so popular in the first place. The Air Force One is so great for its simplicity, its classic silhouette that can go with anything, and that it appeals to so many different lifestyles and cultures.
Nike’s Foamposite, unlike the Air Force One, is in somewhat of a downward spiral at the moment. Although the shoe will always be a cult classic Nike model and it has developed a following of its own, the masses aren’t asking for the heavy, clunky Penny Hardaway model these days. After a resurgence in 2012 due to the highly anticipated release of the Nike Foamposite Galaxy that had people not only paying prices in the thousands for the shoe but people even trading their cars for the shoe. Nike was riding high with the Foamposite at that time dropping a plethora of colorways from some of the originals like the metallic reds, pine greens, and the royals to new really out there colorways like the weatherman and the thermals. One problem Nike was over saturating the market with Foamposites and they began to sit on shelves in sneaker stores all over the country and eventually find their way to the Nike outlets going for way below retail.
Nike is hoping with this most recent mash-up of two of its classic models to be able to pull in the fanatics in each crowd. Mashing up the Air Force One and Foamposite in a colorway that will actually be able to demand attention from sneaker aficionados might actually make this shoe a sleeper of the summer and at a retail price of 180 dollars, it meets right in the middle of the price of two of Nike’s most popular models.
Belgian designer Raf Simons is regarded as one of the most influential designers in not just men’s fashion today but has been a staple in the world of fashion over the last ten years. With Raf Simons finally becoming a household name to many Americans through his collaborations with Adidas through his interpretation of the Stan Smith, being referenced on various songs from artists like A$AP Rocky and Frank Ocean, to recently being named the Chief Creative Officer of American brand Calvin Klein. Raf is growing his personal brand in America more and more every year, which would make many questions why is he moving his always highly anticipated men’s fashion show back to Paris?
After a string of three shows all shown during New York Fashion Week Simons has decided to almost go back to his roots with a show in Paris. Although the Belgian designer did not attend university or schooling in France he has close ties to the country through his own personal endeavors in fashion. Raf both studied and fell in love with fashion while studying furniture design in Antwerp, Belgium a place synonymous with all fans of fashion due to the famous Antwerp Royal Academy and their prestigious fashion program. He would convene at a cafe in Antwerp with many of his friends and they would discuss their favorite fashion brands and designers. Through these interactions with his friends Raf would end up attending his first fashion show in, you guessed it, Paris. The first show he ever saw was Martin Margiela’s all white show in 1991 and this show inspired him to ditch the whole furniture design dream and take on fashion design.
This show in Paris is going to be Raf Simons returning to his roots. He has done many of his shows in Paris but after this brief hiatus from the Parisian fashion scene expect him to come back with a bang. Coming off a lot of buzz from his last show in New York that saw a runway covered in food and drinks meant to look almost like a dinner party gone awry but took a much darker theme of drug abuse as an inspiration for his runway and his collection. This show was perceived as one of the most anticipated and after one of the most revered shows of that New York Fashion Week. We are sure with Raf Simons Men’s collection being slated to show the same day as Off-White, Valentino, and Undercover that he will have people leaving impressed and fans of Raf anticipating to buy this collection.
When it comes to the world of fashion music is one of the biggest influences when it comes not just to people’s personal style but for the direction, fashion is moving in. One of the largest impacts that music has had on fashion was the rise of hip-hop. You can go all the way back to rappers like Slick Rick and Big Daddy popularizing over the top gold chains that were literally things only your favorite rappers could wear to groups like the Wu-Tang Clan popularizing Clarks Wallabees and Ralph Lauren’s Polo Snow Beach collection. Groups like the Wu-Tang Clan didn’t start dressing like this because of their new found money from rising through the ranks of the music industry they dressed like that because it was how they always dressed. There is something different in terms of the connection between the musician and his audience when the person listening is able to reflect how they connect with the culture. They are able to portray this in what they wear and when it is easily attainable for the listener that bond grows even stronger.
There were band tees dating back to the late 60s and early 70s that allowed a fan of a certain musical group or act to show their friends that they attending a show or went to a certain stop on the tour, but nothing that just showed that they were down with the group and the movement they were starting. Wu-Wear, the clothing line started by RZA and many other members of the Wu-Tang Clan, revolutionized this idea and perfected it in a way that would inspire many other rappers and groups to follow suit. Wu-Wear was started in 1995 after the success of the Wu-Tang Clan’s debut album Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers). The clothing line was carried at stores all over the country and was a huge source of income for the entire Wu-Tang Clan, even allowing them to open their own separate retail locations in New York, Los Angeles, Atlanta, and Norfolk. Wu-Wear allowed the fans of the Wu-Tang Clan and just those that followed street fashion and street culture to get down with the Wu-Tang Clan’s movement and show their support for the group out of Staten Island. Although Wu-Wear folded in 2008 it has left a huge impact on the culture surrounding hip-hop designed and inspired clothing lines.
Today with the resurgence of 90’s hip-hop culture into the mainstream it’s only right for the return of Wu-Wear but marketed in a way that nobody would’ve expected, it’s being promoted through an event at Barney’s. The fact that Wu-Wear is coming back in a fresh new way at Barney’s, with updated designs and the focus of not just promoting the group but being on trend while still being able to respect its origins is incredible. This just goes to show you that the rich culture associated with hip-hop and rap music has ascended more than just music. Hip-hop today is regarded as one of if not the most popular genre of music today and it shows with everything around us. Barney’s which is a luxury department store that no one, not even RZA, would’ve imagined his Wu-Wear line rolling out a ten-piece collection exclusively for them is just another mark of how hip-hop music and fashion today really go hand in hand. This gives many older hip-hop heads a chance to reminisce on the early days of the Wu-Tang Clan and can cop and rock a piece of the new Wu-Wear while still allowing the younger generation to get introduced to the Wu-Tang Clan in a whole new way.
Virgil Abloh’s Off-White is one of the hottest brands making noise is not just in the space of fashion but accessories and now with talks of a potential Ikea collaboration, furniture. Off-White’s latest collaboration comes in the form of a premium luggage collection with world-renowned luxury luggage company Rimowa. This is a big step in the right direction for both companies.
Off-White who is coming off a stellar 2017 and 2018 with one of the biggest streetwear collaborations of the last year with its ‘The Ten’ collection with Nike. Off-White in the last year has grown immensely from their use of safety tape designs for their belts and the use of black and white striped printing on the back of their garments. They are currently one of the hottest brands within streetwear with everyone just waiting to see what Virgil Abloh will do next with his brand and if it will take a back seat after recently being appointed men’s artistic director of Louis Vuitton. With Virgil making strides not just for the world of streetwear in high fashion but for African Americans within high fashion many are watching his every move to see what he will do next to impact the culture he has been able to grow so quickly in.
Luxury luggage company Rimowa is also making huge strides in its collaborations with streetwear with this most recent Off-White collection of luggage and packing bags with Virgil’s signature words with quotations around them in the Helvetica font. Rimowa in the last year has cemented itself as the go-to luggage brand of streetwear aficionados. The way Rimowa has been able to accomplish this feat in a world where people care about having all aspects of their lifestyle fit their personal clothing style is through, obviously collaborations. Over the past year, they have collaborated with Los Angeles streetwear label Anti Social Social Club on a collection consisting of their Essential suitcase and apparel including a t-shirt, hoodie and a hat all emblazoned with the Rimowa logo. Their next even more hyped collaboration within the world of streetwear was their much anticipated with possibly the biggest streetwear brand in the world today, New York City’s very own Supreme. The collection with Supreme consisted of two different suitcases one traditionally sized suitcase with the signature Supreme box logo all over the suitcase in a black and red colorway and a carry-on suitcase with the same design. Both of these collaborations for Rimowa sold out within seconds of both their online and in-store releases, with the Supreme collaboration selling for prices of around 5,000 dollars on the second-hand market.
With both of these collaborations working out probably beyond Rimowa’s expectations naturally, their next step would be to join forces with another streetwear giant just to further establish themselves as the premier luggage brand to fans of street fashion and culture. I don’t think their collaboration with Off-White will be able to attain the same hype and buzz as their collaboration with Supreme. But having already seen the impact a collaboration with Off-White could have on the overall success of a brand and it’s products I think Rimowa is definitely headed in the right direction.
The product that Off-White and Rimowa are releasing is an interesting take on the average person’s perception of what personal luggage would be. The carry-on luggage is composed of a transparent polycarbonate that allows anyone that might see your luggage to see exactly what you have within your suitcase. This offers a new commentary on the lack of privacy that people face in society today from government surveillance and the overexposure of people’s personal lives on social media.