DIY Off-White: Beyond "Bootleg"
With the recent debut of his women’s S/S ‘18 collection at Paris Fashion Week, Virgil Abloh’s aesthetics continue to evolve. From having crew necks and graphic tees to dedicating a line to the late Princess Diana, his brand off-White has irrefutably grown into its own over the last three years.
For some, rocking Off-White is just another way to show clout. For others, it’s a platform to create and take part in the culture we’re consuming.
The brand’s creator has consistently been down for using Off-White as a platform for anyone interested in fashion or design—thus, architects, emerging stylists, and even people who can’t afford his clothes can be empowered by the brand.
Merely adding a red zip tie on your Chucks or using air quotes for irony or emphasis adds you to the conversation. Your body becomes part of this dialogue centered around design and exploring what it means to be a millennial.
We’re sort of that generation under our idols, pushing these new ideas. And me having a brand gives us the ability to have a ripple effect, which is what unites us. We’ve been on this path of making intriguing spaces. – Virgil Abloh, Architectural Digest
In my opinion, the key to good design is research and vision. Start with a mood board that speaks to look or what you want to make. Research what styles you’re into and and understand why you enjoy them.
If you learn anything from this guide know that there’s a power in knowing yourself and what you want.
For me, Off-White’s F/W ‘17 and S/S ‘18 collections grabbed my attention the most. I wanted a contrast between something “corporate” and something gritty. It had to be something that spoke to me as a poet while looking like something out of a Black Beatles video.
This is a perfect way to experiment with your personal style. As a starting point you can stick to your streetwear staples like the large tee, fitted jeans/joggers, and a crew neck. If you’re lucky you might find one of those $4 Supreme T-Shirts or maybe you’ll find a nice St. Laurent jacket someone donated.
Follow. Your. Mood board.
Next, find a friend who can sew and pay them in food and love. You can also grab a sewing needle, some thread and Google your way through it, like I did.
I picked up:
- A bleach-stained gray shirt
- Some gray slacks
- A black acrylic jacket
- A holed beige shirts
- An itchy beige sweater
- A trench coat that’s way too short for my arms
- A chain
- Lots of thread
This is where the magic happens where you can get lost in the process. Experimentation is part of design and being a young creative. Make sure it’s a visual representation of “blasting Migos during a Columbia lecture” to get the right vibe.
For the hands-on crowd here are some things I learned:
- All natural fabrics can be bleached.
- Acrylic paint will stiffen your clothes, but provide a worn look.
- “Zig Zag” stitches can strengthen the bond between fabrics.
- Google is your best friend.
I bleached the gray shirt and added gold leaf flakes to the acrylic jacket (with mixed results). I chopped off, tapered, and sewed the beige sweater sleeves to the beige trench coat.
Note: I messed up a lot here, but that’s okay. You will mess up here, but that’s okay. It’s a process.
Patchwork for Days
Off-White’s graphics utilize photos and surrounded quotes and typography. If you can’t get to a screen printing machine I recommend using patchwork.
Patches are easy to make and can offer something intimate to your outfit, a few artifacts of things you enjoy. Stains or holes can be perfect anchor points for patches.
I sewed some poetry-clad canvas to my grey shirt, pinned a little Picasso-esque portrait to the trench coat, and even added a Milk Makeup bag to the front of my beige shirt.
I ended up with something that had a vibrant DIY Tim Sachs vibe.
Channel your inner dad and head down to Home Depot for accessories.
Being an architect, Abloh is heavily inspired by the aesthetic of construction sites. In true Off-White™ fashion, you can simply take a paint marker to any surface and add your air quotes. Red zip ties can be added to your shoes for further branding. Speaking of which…
Here you can add your striped lines or you witty quotes in Helvetica font. After all this design and thinking, the choice is yours on how to join the conversation. You’ve created something beyond just a bootleg, which Abloh does enjoy.
You can go out and capture what Off-White™ is about: being disruptive by being yourself.
Moodboard images via Off White, Vogue, and The Independent
Stay tuned to Milk for more DIY fashion.