As Nike and Off-White tease their football-inspired capsule collection, I begin to wonder if Virgil has become too big for Off-White?
It is not the collection itself that makes me wonder this, with Virgil using this capsule to create an entirely new silhouette for Nike. With the upper of the Mercurial being mixed with the sole of the Vapormax to create the Nike Mercurial Vapor.
We see in this Nike Mercurial Vapor and the jersey that Virgil is looking to feed fashion into the Nike performance focused football arm. This truly feeds off the history of football, with the fashion culture it created amongst its fans in the 70’s to 90’s. Though Nike has long focused on performance over style within football, other brands (notably adidas) have long allowed it’s fashion history to shine back through.
But this isn’t Nike Football x Virgil Abloh, this is Nike Football x Off-White, so the question is how long will that last. If you read any article (this one included) on an Off-White collaboration the focus will be on the designer rather than the brand. His character and his star is shining much brighter than the streetwear brand he created.
It would be hard to disagree that much of the success of the brand is fueled by Virgil Abloh, rather than the brand itself. Even with other figures in the same space such as Ronnie Fieg, Bobby Hundreds, Jerry Lorenzo and even Heron Preston (whose brand is self-titled) they do not have the same sway and impact over the brands they lead.
As he continues to grow as a presence within the industry his impact reaches much further than a brand that can stand apart from the creative spirit that leads it. There was the talk of Virgil Abloh taking over the creative direction of brands such as Givenchy, but even this now seems a step back for the designer and something that would put him the shadows rather than fan the flames.
So perhaps the original question is wrong. Perhaps Off-White has become too small for Virgil Abloh? Are we seeing something new in Virgil Abloh, not only a streetwear icon but an African-American that will one day break away from a brand name? To one day create a self-titled fashion house that will sit amongst Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, Tom Ford, Alexander McQueen, Vivienne Westwood, etc. etc.
Only time will tell, but for now, you can check out the Nike Football and Virgil… sorry I mean and Off-White capsule below.