Fashion month is coming to its end. After a whirlwind of designer shows that kicked off in New York made its way over to London and Milan, the fashion industry eventually landed in Paris for a final week of fashion celebrations. Among Paris Fashion Week veterans like Saint Laurent and Dior, Virgil Abloh’s Off-White has made it clear that the brand is here to stay. With its trademark sporty-chic vibe, Off-White is known for mixing sportswear with haute couture, gaining attention from the fashion industry and celebs alike.
For his Spring/Summer 2019 collection, Virgil Abloh sought inspiration in his collab with Serena Williams for Nike. The influence of the athletic world is definitely present in the collection, which carries the appropriate name “Track and Field.” Models dressed in milky white sports tees and floor-length tutus graced the runway, which was made to look like a slightly decayed track field. For the occasion, eight elite female athletes were cast alongside fashion week regulars like Kaia Gerber and Bella Hadid.
Where a lot of designers tend to adopt athletic styles solely for the aesthetic of it, Off-White certainly managed to bring more dimension to the widespread “Athleisure” phenomenon. It’s truly about the beauty of sports and not just fashion.
The collection ranges from monochrome white ensembles to denim mixed with velvet, to neon snake print puffer jackets and a hodgepodge of high heels and sneakers. Off-White displays its signature styles like never before. An electric green hoodie with matching sweatpants. A deconstructed t-shirt with a floor length gown underneath. Tops and leggings made out of cut up Nike socks. Nobody does athleisure the way Off-White does.
Also notable, the tutus worn with sports tees. After the controversial and blatantly misogynistic decision of the French Open to ban Serena Williams from wearing a full bodysuit at her French Open game, Serena responded by wearing an Off-White x Nike tutu during her US Open match. The tutu, which was from Virgil Abloh’s “Queen” collection, served as an important factor in calling out tennis tournaments for their sexism.
By casting female athletes and women of color, in particular, Abloh’s collection has more depth and substance than many other designers’ shows. The show counted 47 models in total, with eight female athletes that were all women of color. High jumper Vashti Cunningham, British sprinter Dina Asher-Smith, track and field sprinter English Gardner, Olympic athlete Caterine Ibargüen, French runner Renelle Lamote, Katarina Johnson-Thompson, Hong Kong-based high jumper Cecilia Yeung and Belgian heptathlon athlete Nafissatou Thiam all walked the runway in thoughtfully put-together ensembles. Over the past few years, the fashion industry has taken big steps to become a more inclusive space. However, it is not enough, and there’s still a very long way to go. While perhaps not being the show that will suddenly make the fashion industry inclusive, this show might serve as a message for the fashion industry that change is needed.
Above all, the collection is a celebration of fashion, sports and having fun. It’s what Virgil Abloh does best. Off-White’s SS19 is not just another sporty-chic collection. It’s a meaningful message towards the fashion and sports industry.