Off-White is one of the most highly sought-after streetwear brands in the fashion industry. The brand’s designer, Virgil Abloh, has become a household name in recent years, as he acts as one of Kanye West’s trusted confidants, travels in a star-studded circle with the likes of Rihanna, and has collaborated with and dressed too many stars to count.
A factor that sets apart the brand with the cult following — and garners major criticism from customers — is the expensive price tag that’s attached to the majority of the label’s merchandise. Most of the brand’s T-shirts fall within the $200 to $400 range; sweatshirts can retail for as high as $672.
At an event in NYC earlier this week, Abloh revealed the reasoning behind Off-White’s steep price points — costly luxury fabrics used in production, shipping expenses, and paying employees fair wages. “An Off-White T-shirt is like 200 bucks, and a hoodie is like $300. Don’t let Zara and Uniqlo educate you on the price of a garment, because that’s not fashion. That’s McDonald’s. Your health is tied to that 99-cent nugget,” he said.
A high-end designer like Abloh knocking fast-fashion retailers is not surprising, considering brands like Zara and H&M are often accused of ripping off designs in a rush to turn out new styles. These retailers are able to produce look-alike styles months before authentic products hit shelves, which can be extremely damaging to designers. Some knockoffs in stores are easily recognizable, and designers’ feelings about the pieces tend to vary. Tom Ford definitely is not a fan. “A lot of the things I did — it’s not going to sound anything but egotistical — if I’m lucky and I did the right thing, they will be at Zara way before I can get them in the store, and I don’t like that,” he said. The choice between a cheaper knockoff over the authentic, more expensive product can sometimes be more attractive to customers, which understandably frustrates designers.
Despite the steep prices, Off-White still manages to sell out pieces almost immediately and increase its massive following. It helps that the brand is a staple in the wardrobes of celebrities and models, like Kendall and Kylie Jenner, Drake, and Bella Hadid, among others.
Abloh recognizes this clientele, but it’s not directly who he is designing for. “Of course my brand is inspired by the youth, but I wouldn’t say that it’s directly made for the youth. It’s who I am,” he said.