Tucked out of sight on Eihu Lane, an alleyway located just steps away from Vancouver’s tony Alberni Street addresses, the doors to luxury streetwear brand Off-White were unlocked quietly at 11 a.m. on April 5, 2018. The late arrival of a single handrail delayed one of the most talked-about retail launches in recent memory; initial whispers of Virgil Abloh’s third North American mono-store began making their rounds through Granville Street sneaker lineups in mid-2016.
Defined as the grey area between black and white, Off-White is championed by streetwear fans who themselves are defined by the current-ness of their wardrobes. Often employing plays of proportion, material, and graphic design, the brand is coveted by those who indulge the creative whims of founder Abloh.
Recently appointed as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, Abloh quickly re-arranged his calendar and relocated his family to Paris, which unfortunately leaves the Vancouver launch of Off-White without a mega-star opening event. While local fans may be left feeling a bit disappointed—Toronto’s store opening allowed ample access to the disrupting mastermind—the ability to shop the Vancouver-exclusive collection titled “Marble” should more than make up for this. The collection is comprised of short sleeved t-shirts, a hoodie, and an industrial belt.
The brand’s street-forward style is evident throughout the newly created two-storey space and is reflected in Abloh’s choice of rough raw concrete floors and walls, with his signature black and white stripes wrapped around the simplistic clothing racks. The luxury element is satisfied with brushed brass fixtures from Hong Kong, rough marble slabs imported from Italy that are balanced on restaurant dish racks to create display tables, and lush mint green velvet curtains and carpeting.
The Spring/Summer 2018 collections of women’s and men’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, and accessories are accompanied by two additional disjointed fashion stories. “Temperature” highlights and objectifies the terminology of fashion and invites the wearers to intellectualize climatological metaphors such as “hot,” “cool,” and “the heat of the moment” as they pertain to the garments; meanwhile, the “Natural Woman” collection presents a modernized view of the late royal style icon Princess Diana.
Whether or not the throngs of streetwear-clad millennials who are scooping up everything that Off-White and Abloh roll out will understand the historical inspiration behind that particular collection, one thing for certain is that Google searches for “Eihu Lane” will be through the roof as they hunt for Vancouver’s hidden fashion hot spot.
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