MILAN – It’s a âsuper excitingâ time for Off-White, according to general manager Andrea Grilli.
The brand, launched by Virgil Abloh in 2014, and its licensee New Guards Group have undergone quite a development. âWe have set up new divisions, with tighter brand control and there has been a shift from wholesale distribution to direct-to-consumer distribution,â Grilli said in an exclusive interview, noting that Off -White had lost some of its streetwear associations developing “the new luxury codes”, while focusing on “unexpected collaborations” and remaining faithful to the essence and creativity of the brand.
Off-White has also seen major direct and indirect changes since its launch. As reported, in May, LVMH MoÃ«t Hennessy Louis Vuitton strengthened its relationship with Abloh beyond the fashion division and the French luxury conglomerate increased its stake in Off-White LLC, owner of Abloh’s Off-White brand. , at 60%. Abloh retained a 40 percent stake and remains creative director of the label. Abloh is also artistic director of men’s clothing collections at Louis Vuitton, a position he has held since March 2018.
Milan-based New Guards Group was sold to Farfetch in 2019 for $ 675 million, which was also a key part of Off-White’s evolution to a more digital brand. âDigital was our Achilles heel,â Grilli recalls. Now, an increasingly fundamental element for companies, this channel has seen double-digit growth.
Off-White is not revealing financial details, but Grilli reiterated that the brand has the potential to reach â¬ 1 billion in revenue within five to ten years. âWe are on track to achieve this goal,â he said, highlighting the continued growth even during the year-to-year pandemic since 2019. âOff-White has never stopped growing and itâs growing. is a matter of pride and joy for Virgil, âGrilli mentioned.
He touted the privilege of having “unbeatable leadership” at LVMH and Farfetch, which allows “to constantly learn lessons and constructive dialogues” with people like Michael Burke, CEO of Louis Vuitton, for example.
Over the past 12-18 months, Off-White has created new divisions and expanded its product offering with new categories, such as housewares, children’s clothing and eyewear, prioritizing quality over quantity, Grilli said. None of these are developed through licensing agreements, as is generally the custom. New Guards Group has hired more than 100 people in the past year, many of whom work on Off-White, he said.
On the occasion of Milan Design Week, Off-White and Ginori 1735 presented a limited edition capsule that foreshadowed a larger partnership that will be unveiled in April 2022. The capsule included a full table service with plates, trays table, a teapot and tea saucer in black and white graffiti inspired decorations.
âWith Ginori, his artistic influences and his historical expertise, there is an opportunity to further expand the Off-White lifestyle,â Grilli said. âWe always thought it was scalable, and two years ago we tested the market with a few items that sold out in a week. There was a void that we knew we could fill. Virgil is a communicator and it is never a one-sided monologue; he listens to consumers and their expectations.
While developing Off-White’s online presence, Grilli has also spearheaded the development of physical retail in major capitals, such as a flagship that opened in July in Paris, and in luxury resorts, such as Porto Cervo in Sardinia; Forte dei Marmi in Tuscany and Ibiza. Stores in Milan and Miami designed by Abloh and AMO, the research and design arm of architecture firm OMA, opened last year.
There are now 60 Off-White stores around the world and more openings are slated for 2022 and 2023 in the United States on the east and west coasts, Grilli said, citing Los Angeles in particular. Off-White has stores in New York, Miami and Las Vegas, and Grilli said, âAmerica surprised us last year. It topped 2019 volumes, supported by buying and local events. He described the brand’s markets as balanced, the Asia-Pacific region, which includes Japan, accounting for nearly 30% of the business. China is “a priority,” he said, and Off-White is expanding in the Middle East as well, opening in Riyadh and Kuwait, as well as Russia, Moscow.
The executive stressed the need to become more “glocal” with relevant events in specific areas, and even more so after the pandemic. âExclusive collections for isolated cities, micro capsules, intended to stimulate the store more than the city are essential and offering an exclusive product to the consumer is a must. Collaborations such as the pairing with Nike are also amazing boosters, he said.
As reported, New Guards Group revealed to WWD last year that Off-White is adopting a new product delivery schedule.
Involving the entire pipeline, from the supply chain to marketing, this go-to-market strategy, while difficult, has paid off with “excellent results,” said Grilli.
In February, Off-White hosted a fashion show and live performances at an industrial venue in Milan to reveal the Spring 2021 collection through a global digital event, dubbed âImaginary TV,â and skipped Paris Fashion Week , where he had regularly shown. In July, he returned to Paris to organize his first physical parade in 16 months with a performance by MIA
Asked about the next step, Grilli declined to reveal where and how the next Off-White collection will be presented. âWe are working on the schedule and the definition of the show,â he said.
He said that Off-White is also aiming for its women’s clothing to become as relevant as its men’s ready-to-wear, and for shoes and sneakers to be among the most important categories for the brand.
Davide De Giglio serves as Chairman and CEO of New Guards Group, which includes brands such as Palm Angels, Ambush, Alanui, Opening Ceremony, Heron Preston, Marcelo Burlon County of Milan, Kirin Peggy Gou and Ben Taverniti Unravel Project.