Fresh from dressing top Chinese model Liu Wen for the Met Gala, the Off-White designer journeyed to Hong Kong and Shanghai this week to open stores in both cities.
To celebrate the Hong Kong launch, Abloh held a dinner at Cassio and afterparty at Tazmania Ballroom with key executives from the department store I.T, who are his partners in greater China, and guests including stylists Ma Yao and Grace Lam, Cantopop lyricist Wyman Wong and model Louise Wong.
The new 746-square-foot space at 9 Queen’s Road Central was designed by Abloh, who trained as an architect, and reflects his street-meets-luxury signature style.
“The concrete is sort of broken and feels like a bomb shelter more than a store,” Abloh said. “It’s like an odd-shaped floor plan. There’s a lot of things that made it nonideal, so what we did was embrace all those things, and ultimately made a store that is quite unique. It’s sort of split in half, where one part is refined and finished and the other part is unfinished.”
Although Liu Wen appeared in Abloh’s clothes at the Met Gala right before he journeyed to China, Abloh said working with the model wasn’t strategically planned for the store launches.
“It happened organically,” he said. “She approached me, and her team had thought of what she wanted to wear. We had a synergy in terms of taste.”
One persistent criticism of Off-White is that Abloh prices his collections too high for his target youth audience. That is less true in Asia, where the luxury consumer is newer, and about a decade younger than in the west. It’s also perhaps why, out of his 10 retail stores to date, only two are based outside Asia.
Abloh said he brushes that critique aside no matter where he is.
“There’s a market for designer clothing, and that’s the market I wish to make clothing, and design things and choose fabrics for. To me (that criticism) doesn’t really resonate.”
Off-White will open a store in New York, and two shop-in-shops, at London’s Selfridges and at Galeries Lafayette in Paris later this year, his team said, but the designer wouldn’t say how big a retail footprint he foresees in the long run.
“To my core, I believe in updated luxury,” he said. “It’s not about a bigger business. I think more of a metric is relevance for us. With relevancy, you can get implied revenue. It’s thinking about fashion completely in a different way.”