Is there any more dynamic force in fashion right now than Virgil Abloh? The visionary behind Off-White was recently named creative director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, and is up for both Menswear and Womenswear Designer of the Year at Monday night’s Council of Fashion Designers of America Awards—not to mention joining Ikea to give us some Off-White style at an affordable price point with a new capsule collection.
But we honestly can’t think of anything more timely than his latest collaboration with Nike, inspired by, and just in time for, the World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14—the same date Nike x Off-White’s collection will be available online and in stores.
Abloh and Kim Jones, artistic director of Dior, each joined Nike to design collections of jerseys, jackets, gear and, of course, a shoe to celebrate the return of the largest competition in the world’s most popular sport—soccer (popularly known as football outside the United States). As Nike’s news page notes, Abloh’s connection with his collection is a very personal one:
For Abloh, football is an opportunity to blend memories of his youth—playing hip-hop tracks on the way to high school soccer matches, for instance—with his interests in mixing lifestyle and sport branding. It’s big and bold and full of nuanced visual cues. In a word, his collection is predicated on the visceral.
Much like Abloh’s own line, the collection uses black and white with pops of safety orange as its color story—no surprise, since the explanation for the label’s name is “Defining the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White.” The numbers used throughout the capsule collection are numbers Abloh wore during his own years playing soccer, while the lion in his logo resembles one used by the Czech Republic’s team.
But Abloh’s lion is juggling, the balls meant to represent “the pattern of dots Abloh formed when thinking about how to explain, at the most basic level, the optimal place on the foot to strike a ball,” according to Nike’s site.
It’s a theme carried over into Abloh’s version of the Flyknit Zoom Fly, which directly refers to his earlier interpretation of the Mercurial Vapor 360 football boot, as he explains:
I wanted to communicate where a player strikes the ball. So, I put dots on the boot; if you’re going to strike the ball, your foot/eye coordination is basically the only variance of chance. That’s what the collection started with, these running shoes that mimic the same as your actual boot on the pitch so that you started subconsciously training all the time. Then I just applied that aesthetic from the bottom up.
For this collection, Abloh also played with typography to express the individuality within the universal appeal of the game he loves, telling Nike:
The great thing about the vocabulary and history of football is that aesthetically it has its own look. I was always inspired by the way European teams have a sponsor printed over the chest. When I was working on this collection, I wanted to celebrate the different variants of typography.
But primarily, Abloh wanted to communicate the universal language of soccer, which, like fashion, is loved and followed the world round, translating out of arenas and runways onto the streets.
“These kids around the world can be into this collection and be a part of the larger team,” Abloh says in the promotional video. “We’re speaking the same language; if you know Off-White, you know the game of football.”
Of course, like Abloh, Nike x Off-White is only one of several major releases Nike is capitalizing on this season. Notably, its Nigeria World Cup Kits sold out within an hour of their release Friday, June 1. So, it’s safe to say that World Cup Fever is officially spreading.