Interview: Virgil Abloh Opens Up About His Denim 'Diary'

Interview: Virgil Abloh Opens Up About His Denim 'Diary'

The winner of the 2015 LVMH Prize talks to us about the importance of denim in fashion.

Published July 19th

As corny as is it sounds, to call Virgil Abloh, founder and creative director of Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh, a busy man is an understatement. There’s “busy” and then there’s a day-in-the life of Abloh. Between DJ gigs, designer collaborations (with brands like Moncler) plus helping longtime friend Kanye West execute his artistic vision (most recently in the form of the infamous “Famous” video), he’s also managed to nurture his two-year old streetwear label.

But while his time zones may constantly be in flux, one thing is consistent — his love for denim. “I wear the same jeans religiously,” he shares. “I have a vintage Levi’s trucker denim jacket that is a current mainstay in my suitcase.” We caught up with the man behind the brand in the whirlwind Paris Fashion Week to get his take on America’s favorite fabric. Here’s an excerpt of Abloh’s denim diary. 

BET: Why is denim part of your daily wardrobe? Where is your favorite place to shop for denim?
Virgil Abloh: Denim is a modern staple — at this point it's the staple fabric of current culture. I love What Goes Around Comes Around in NYC, but have long since followed Hedi Slimane's career in denim from Dior to Saint Laurent for his particular vision on fit and detail.

What would you cite as your favorite denim moment in hip-hop or fashion history? How has it influenced your design aesthetic directly?
With my time spent at Levi's in their archive, I have been taught the rich history of denim and how it came to be such an iconic staple. I would have to say the moment when Hollywood adopted the white tee and jeans look with the likes of James Dean etc. is the most impactful to me and how I approach designing with the denim textile. [It’s a true] clash of culture and fashion.

Denim seems to be a mainstay in your collection each season, what can we expect this year?
Just playing with proportions and details. Treating the fabric like it's not denim to hopefully find some new freedom [within it].

The lived-in look is hot right now. What's the best way for guys to break in their denim?
Ironically, [just] wear them or beat them up with sandpaper and a razor yourself.

You recently collaborated with Levi's to rework vintage denim into modern silhouettes and pieces. Tell us about the creative process and how working with vintage denim differs from working with newer, modern materials.
The process with Levi’s is amazing. I learned about the true DNA of vintage denim. It's a great learning experience to see raw denim go to vintage, period denim in a day — which they [Levi’s] can actually do.

When it comes to color and cut, what's in and what's out? Any exceptions to the rule?
Never. Denim trends are always evolving, now more than ever.

What advice do you have for women who want to rock men's jeans? What are a few do's and don'ts.
I see no don'ts. The next denim trends originate from there.

Finish the sentence: Denim is ______.
Like a diary.

Anything else you'd like to add?
Denim is a fabric that records your actions. [It’s] where you put your wallet or phone and what you do while wearing them. Denim is amazing [for that reason]. 

Written by Janell M. Hickman

Janell M. Hickman

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