At the beginning of 2017 few could argue with Kanye West’s assertion that he was the most influential name in Fashion. While high end brands such as Gucci and Louis Vuitton may have commanded more clout within the industry, the sheer magnitude of the rapper-turned-designer’s influence on trends and what is popular within the fashion world was unparalleled. While 2017 has seen other figures come and go – A$AP Bari’s Vlone brand’s swift take off, and even swifter crash down to earth amid controversy regarding the A$AP affiliate’s private life springs to mind – the lack of long lasting success within the streetwear world only cements Kanye West’s success with YEEZY as even more impressive.
Now however, Virgil Abloh, the creative designer behind streetwear brand Off-White seems to be offering some new, authentic competition. His upcoming release alongside Nike, featuring ten ultra-hyped, ultra-rare silhouettes, simply dubbed “the Ten” (pictured below) has been described by Hypebeast as “the biggest collaboration of the year”. The collab has also earned Abloh a place on the Business of Fashion 500 list, alongside heralded Fashion creators such as Alexander Wang and Jason Wu, as well as big name celebrities such as Gigi Hadid and Beyonce Knowles. Of course Kanye West was already on the list, so this is no indication that Off-White’s creator has overtaken the Chicago born rapper.
Perhaps where Abloh has been most influential is with his work in bringing Nike to the forefront of Streetwear once again. While nobody can discredit Nike their overwhelming monopoly on sales and large scale influence in footwear, their reputation within streetwear has been tainted somewhat in recent years. Adidas have made concerted efforts to build their reputation among Hypebeasts and Sneakerheads in an effort to generate more hype around the three stripes. This movement, entitled by the German powerhouse: “strong brand momentum” has, largely, been successful, with Adidas reporting a growth of 31% in sales due to the success of limited releases of models such as the Ultraboost, NMD and of course, their collaborative work alongside Kanye West. Now however Adidas’ “momentum” is waning. People aren’t talking about YEEZY at the moment, with West’s most recent collaborative piece – the Powerphase – falling in resell price by upwards of 200% the signs suggest that Adidas and Kanye just don’t hold the same influence they did at the turn of the year. Enter Virgil Abloh, Nike and the ten collaborative pieces that everyone’s going to be talking about in the buildup to 2018.
When the official drop takes place in November, ten different silhouettes will become widely available. While each shoe will of course be the subject of limited release numbers to cement the collaboration’s value and appeal, there will be ten new shoes clogging up your Instagram feed and being reviewed by bloggers and Youtubers alike, all sporting the famous Nike swoosh, serving to boost the brand’s already behemoth name. So Virgil’s influence transcends his own name, as it brings Nike to the forefront of Streetwear once again. His collection of collaborations is still two months away from being released, yet today it is the most anticipated and talked about release around. Leaving us to beg the question, Yeezy who?