Seb is UK’s answer to European integration: he sailed the North Sea, he says, “to annex the continent to where it belongs: the British Empire”. He earlier applied for the position of honorary vice consul of Portugal and saw the job, “after a very close fight”, finally go to a lady from Lissabon. So he temporarily rents a dwelling less than a 100 miles from Brussels, because he “wants to have a talk with the European Commission about this”. He’s mad, - very mad. And it starts in the morning.
Let me, for a second, unashamedly talk about myself. While I might be young, impressionable, and generally a bit of a loose cannon, I was not brought up on the “mean streets”. In fact, far from it. I grew up in a small cluster of buildings, near a small village, near a slightly larger village, near a small town that is relatively close to a mid-sized city that some of you may have heard of. While not rich financially, my family was rich in culture. I grew up with a pre-raphaelite painting on my bedroom wall, over dinner I was told stories of the ancient gods (one of whom lent me his name), and I was sheltered from the systemic onslaught of advertising via a lack of television until my mid-teens.
There are very few downsides to being brought up around art and culture; however, if I have to really search for one it would be that after a while nothing really grabs your eye anymore. That brings me to the feelings of joy, longing, pain, and jealousy that I feel every time I see someone in a nice (and I mean really nice) pair of trainers. There’s just something about the mixture of bold lines and bolder colours that clicks somewhere in my head. I can see a nice pair a mile away, - just ask my girlfriend, I never stop pointing them out. Even as I write this, all I can think about is the two pairs I left in London, like a mother leaving her children in the safety of their grandparents while she takes a trip far too dangerous for their frail bodies to handle. This all brings me very nicely to the brand Off-White, my Achilles heel, my golden fleece, my precious.
There is a saying in Britain that “assumptions make an ass out of you and me”. So I have grown up never assuming anything. The same goes for today, I will not be assuming, I will be taking an educated guess, that few people reading this article have ever heard of the brand Off-White, stylised as “Off-White ™”, quotes included.
Off-White is the brainchild of artist, designer, DJ, and all round millennial Virgil Abloh, and would be considered by many of us Chai Tea drinking youngsters to be one of the most iconic brands of the decade. They specialise in simplistic and at times ironic takes on classic designs, spearheading a new kind of fashion movement known simply as “hype”. The name derives from the idea that garments are valued more as a cultural phenomenon than an item of clothing (I know, I’m not helping the stereotype).
The epitome of “hype” is the Off-White and Nike collaboration on the classic basketball shoe The Air Jordan 1. The shoe debuted in the early 80’s and has long been an icon of street culture. It was, therefore, a headline creating sensation (at least in my circles) when Nike revealed they were collaborating with Off-White on a revamped version of the Air Jordan 1, as well as 9 other iconic shoes. Upon its release in 2017, the Off-White Air Jordan 1 was an instant success, with people lining up around the block and desperately refreshing the Nike website with the hope of getting their hands on a pair. Those who did made a fantastic investment. The retail price of $190 was a steal when you consider a pair now resales online for $1500.
Virgil Abloh himself said “These 10 shoes have broken barriers in performance and style. To me, they are on the same level as the sculpture of David or the Mona [Lisa]. You can debate it all you want, but they mean something”. While the majority of you reading this will find that statement rather inflammatory, I can’t help but agree with him. The fact is there isn’t a whole lot of difference between lining up for twelve hours to get your hands on a shoe and lining up for twelve hours in that long, hot, and generally ill-tempered line to see the Mona Lisa.
As for myself, I currently own two pairs of limited edition Air Jordans, and it is my great ambition to one day own a pair of the Off-White version. However, until I have a spare $1500 lying around I’ll have to wait. I don’t really know why I love them so much, perhaps I am just another cog in the capitalist machine, but there is a certain feeling of rebelliousness and pride when a fellow fan compliments you on your insanely rare pair trainers.
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