Abloh took his early design education — drawn from athletic footwear, hip-hop and rock album covers and graffiti, he says — and merged it with formal training in architecture and engineering. Now a successful creative director, DJ, designer and founder of the brand, OFF-WHITE, Abloh blurs the lines of various creative processes, rewriting the rules of fashion and design and injecting humor and DIY elements into his practice.
“By the time I made my first trip to Beaverton, I immediately wanted to make something,” Abloh says. “I didn't wait all those years just to have meetings at Nike.” During the first visit, he rebuilt a pair of triple-black Air Force 1 Low shoes using an X-ACTO knife and drew on them with markers, initiating one-offs for his staff to wear at that December’s Design Miami/, where he presented OFF-WHITE furniture.
“Michael Jordan was larger than life — he was Superman to me. My entire design background and ethos came from the ‘90s.” - Virgil Abloh
This exercise became a quick turn of 12 Air Force 1s, all handmade by Matt Kilgore at Nike’s Blue Ribbon Studios. (Kilgore is the son of Bruce Kilgore, who designed the original Air Force 1 in 1982.) Abloh wanted the tongue’s inner foam exposed, a silver Swoosh with thick, obvious stitching and text nodding to the shoe’s origins in Beaverton, Oregon.