In the two years since its inception, Virgil Abloh’s streetwear-focused Off-White label has become the crux of cool, a must-wear for many downtown types in Manhattan and around the world. And as a jet-set DJ with a studio in Paris and flagship store in Hong Kong, the designer and longtime creative partner to Kanye West moves with a glitzy, fast-paced crowd.
So it was a surprise to hear that Abloh’s inspiration for Moncler O, his new collaboration with the French sportswear brand, was not something like modern architecture, après-ski in Gstaad or the urban outerwear practices of New York — instead, fishing in the Arctic informed Moncler O. “My goal is to make art in a practical sense. There is a responsibility that comes with design,” Abloh told Billboard. “You don’t build buildings for the building’s sake; they’re a service to a city. In that same spirit, a collection should do that.”
After noticing that the cold-weather climate of the Arctic sea was the last frontier for Moncler, the designer began to research Arctic fishermen, watching the show Deadliest Catch and studying their uniforms to create the pieces. “There’s a way to styling themselves that’s second nature to the function,” he says. “It’s the same way military works.”
Among the outerwear-focused collection (starting at $300 for accessories and $1,200 for jackets at Moncler.com) which debuted at the brand’s Soho boutique in Manhattan in the midst of New York Fashion Week: Men’s, there are sturdy, yellow puffer jackets that mimic life vests ($1,200), durable, hooded rain coats (including a floor-length version, Abloh’s favorite piece) and thick, knitted-collar sweatshirts that read “Whitewidow” ($725) — the fictional fishing boat the designer imagined for his creations. Many of the pieces also include Off-White’s signature stripes (done in yellow instead of white), which will surely serve as bait for his fans and devotees.
As for the growing intersection of music and fashion — in which Abloh is undoubtedly a driving force — the designer predicts it will continue to move to “supreme relevance.” He adds, “Culture doesn’t stand on one leg, it stand on art, music, fashion. It’s the petri dish of all those things, which is where I live.”