Best known as Kanye West’s creative director, Virgil Abloh is the man behind three clothing lines, Off-White, Milan and RSVP Gallery in Chicago, and some of Kanye’s most extravagant Yeezus tour productions.
In addition to his day job as a designer-slash-creative director, Virgil Abloh also likes to DJ — so much so that Virgil describes himself and his friends Tremaine “Denim Tears” Emory and Acyde of No Vacancy Inn as “music kids that happened to get into fashion parties.”
He found DJ’ing as a way of “creating a cultural moment” in the stuffy atmosphere of the fashionable glitterati.
Alongside running Off-White and consulting, Abloh co-founded record label Bromance Records and DJ’s under the alias of Flat-White, for which he says is the only thing that gives him complete piece of mind, and something that he will be doing long after he has finished designing.
Whilst in Sydney for the special Supply x Nike Top ten launch, Off-White founder and Nike collaborator, Virgil Abloh took the opportunity to DJ at Sydney’s Civic Hotel Underground alongside Sydney creative group, SETTINGS˚
The announcement was dropped seemingly out of the blue, with very little promotion for the event online—but drew a large crowd who were aware of Off-White’s cult status and Abloh’s reputation for high energy sets.
Tickets to the SETTINGS˚ event were sold exclusively at the door, so it’s first in, best dressed.
The ticket queue snaked around the block before the doors had even opened, with music patrons eagerly waiting in anticipation to be a part of one of the more fervent and unforgettable nights of Sydney rap music culture.
The renowned streetwear meets high-fashion designer made his appearance to Civic Underground for what was an evening of bounce-flexing to techno mixed in with turn-of-the-century hip hop anthems.
The 360 degree stage set up enabled the most intimate and immersive of experiences, with patrons completely surrounding the decks and within arms reach of each artist from the SETTINGS˚ roster.
Announcing his arrival in style, Abloh swung from the roof of the club above the steel DJ booth, to rapturous cheers and applause from the heaving gallery.
Jumping on the decks, he dovetailed a selection of tracks from his famous friends Kanye West, Travis Scott and ASAP Rocky, with eclectic selections from Radiohead and Tame Impala.
” A lot of places. I started traveling to Montreal, Toronto, New York, Philadelphia, then to New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo, Singapore, Miami, London.
I’ve been to all these places in like three weeks. It’s a mix of DJing and business travel. I mix the two all day, everyday ” …….……. Virgil
” It all started as a teenager. . I was big into like turntablism during the 8-track era…so I was into, like, the hip-hop element of DJing. And while I was skateboarding and stuff that’s what I was listening to. You know, just being a teenager in the 90s. I’ve been doing that since then.
These were my pastimes. I would joke and say like DJing is like how our parents would play golf or something like that. Like, all my friends are DJs.
It’s like what you do, for our generation — selecting songs for a house party. It’s how our generation communicates.” …………… Virgil
Wednesday night settings in Sydney c/o SETTINGS and FLAT WHITE (Virgil Abloh)📍
Posted by REDDS on Wednesday, 15 November 2017
” There’s a science to DJing, music is what can make people’s nights better.” …………..Virgil
” By meeting these kids who come out to see me and come to my sets. It’s the essence, that’s why I was at Settings the Underground last night until, like, shit, two in the morning, which was the best party I’ve ever been too. That’s the raw energy.
Those are the kids who make shoes iconic, they are the next generation.
To me, it’s easy, if you stay inspired, you never run out of ideas and I get inspired by conversation and meeting new people,” ……………… Virgil Abloh
” This is the most lit party that I’ve ever been to in my whole fucking life, I swear “
“I’ve found it… Ian Connor would love to be here right now. Jabari Shelton. ASAP Rocky. This is an amazing place.” ………….. Virgil
Complete with a back to back with the SETTINGS˚ team, he concluded his set with an impromptu signing session, scrawling his iconic handwriting and personalised messages across a number of attendee’s sneakers.
In Abloh’s own words from the night – “Settings. Very rare settings.”
Virgil is the mastermind of fashion label Off-White, creative director for Kanye West, favored DJ of the global style set—and the role model for a new class of millennials who are allergic to the idea of a desk job
Virgil is Kanye West’s consigliere, facilitating Yeezy’s never-ending stream of projects.
He also collaborates with musician friends like Sky Ferreira and Theophilus London.
And in 2014 he launched Milan-based fashion label Off-White.
In just five seasons it’s gone from being dissected by streetwear-forum geeks questioning Abloh’s design cred to a nomination for the prestigious LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers.
And it’s evolved from a fresh but overstuffed fashion concept to a streamlined collection that hovers in the sweet spot between the street and the runway.
It’s also become the first thing people mention when they drop Abloh’s name—and people are dropping his name a lot these days
” I was in London, and I was like in a coffee shop – my friend ordered it, and I was like, that’s a good…It’s just that I like color. Like, it’s a color — people put so much meaning on it. I like the genericness of a color. Any color – I have different projects under different colors.” ……………….. Virgil Abloh
A decade ago, every scrappy young kid orbiting the music industry with a heart full of hustle and a head full of rap lyrics wanted to be a CEO, like Jay Z or Diddy.
Today they all want to be a creative director. Well, really they want to be Virgil Abloh.
” Kanye obviously is known for always having an ear to the underground in terms of club sounds and music, he creates in like a space where he is always in tune – he asks a lot of questions.
My job with him is in creativity and suggesting things — what I see and what I hear. So yeah, in a way, we collaborate in that sort of sphere.
The stuff I encounter from Bromance, the techno record label that I’m on, and from me being out and about, and actually like playing records, it’s great for our dynamic of suggestion. ” ………..Virgil
Some Notable perfomances by Virgil ( aka Flat White )
Birds Eye World Tour 2017
Recently, Travis Scott’s Birds Eye View Tour made its stop in New York City and didn’t disappoint. From exclusive OFF-WHITE merchandise curated specifically for the NY stop to fans jumping from balconies, it all began with a DJ set from Virgil Abloh.
Terminal 5 was presented with a melting pot of sounds from Abloh as he made his way to the main stage in the highly anticipated OFF-WHITE x Air Jordan 1.
Tunes from the likes of XXXTentacion, A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, The-Dream, Aerosmith and more became the warm up for Scott’s unforgettable rage.
Take a look at some of Virgil Abloh’s set and dance moves below.
Flat White Boiler Room – London DJ Set, 2015
” Yeah, Boiler Room just came about [since they’re in tune with the] hard work we’re doing in the streets.
So, in a way, it’s great format – I enjoy it because it’s a way to document what’s going on…And, you know, they found me. Like [Boiler Room host] Skinny, he was always like, “Hey, let’s do something.”
I’d met him at some night, and he was like “Oh, come do Boiler Room,” and the first one I did was really instrumental in my DJ career. It sort of showed people that assumed that maybe I didn’t DJ what my sort of vibe was ” ………………Virgil Aboh
A full tracklist from the Set —
1. A New – Ultramajic
2. Homieland – Canblaster
3. Head Down Buddha Position – Joey Anderson
4. Dub 05 – Kowton
5. Hard – Breakage
6. New Banger – Kano
7. Know Me From – Stormzy
8. Shutdown – Skepta
9. Oi! – More Fire Crew
10. Grove Street – Waka Flocka Flame
11. Lord Pretty Flacko 2 – A$AP Rocky
12. Know Yourself – Drake
13. Mamacita – Travis Scott
14. Blessings – Big Sean
15. Danny Glover – Young Thug
16. New Slaves – Spooky
17. White Label – Patrick Brian
18. Nutcrackerz – Dizzee Rascal ft. Giggs
19. When I’m Ere – Roll Deep
20. Bow E3 – Wiley
21. On A Level – Wiley
22. SAFE – Danny Seth
23. 6 God – Drake
24. Worry About Me – Partynextdoor
25. Ain’t About The Money – Young Thug ft. TI
26. Wrist – Father ft. iLoveMakonnen
27. All Day – Kanye West
28. Don’t Like – Chief Keef
29. Blkkk Skkkn Head – Kanye West
30. Ocho Cinco – French Montana
31. We Dem Boyz – Wiz Khalifia
32. Don’t Play – Travis Scott
33. TS 01 – Patrick Brian
34. Stalker Ha – Kingdom
35. Hackney Parrot – Tessla
36. Uh – Kode 9
37. Has It Come To This? – The Streets
38. Original Nuttah – Shy FX & UK Apachi
39. Kush Ain’t Loud – DJ Rashad
40. Code Red – X Project
No messing around on this one — an hour of back-to-back fire with Flat White
Boiler Room New York
The Ray-Ban x Boiler Room Weekender was staged in The hills of Pennsylvania USA– where approx 3,000 people gotaway to the Poconos’s idyllic (looking) Split Rock Resort that hosted performances from the likes of Kamasi Washington and Blood Orange.
But the biggest draw for many was the event curated by frequent Kanye West collaborator, Off-White designer and creative powerhouse Virgil Abloh, who brought the likes of No Vacancy Inn, Mobilegirl and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs (for an all-vinyl jungle set!) to a bunch of mountains in the middle of nowhere for only the most diehard of heads.
And while Abloh doesn’t produce, he’s proved himself to be a skilled curator when it comes to up-and-coming sounds via his “Flat White” DJ moniker, and, as such, spun a diverse, genre-spanning, hour-long set.
Unfortunately the Weekender was shut down early after local police and resort security took heavy-handed and, according to Boiler Room, unauthorized measures against attendees — particularly against people of color — resulting in one (unnecessary) arrest and several injuries to guests.
It was an incident that put a damper on the utopian goals of the weekend and continued to prove that the racialized war on club culture and all of the diversity it entails is still very much alive and well — especially deep in Trump country.
Heron Preston and Virgil Abloh Tour – Moscow
Heron Preston x KM20 Pop Up and Party.
Opening set by Heron Preston, Virgil Abloh & Cyber69. Kuznetsky Most 20, Moscow, Russia.
Virgil on the Decks at Tom Club, Milan
Virgil Flat White Tape 1 Mix
Virgil Abloh has toured the world and performed in various parties and festivals throughout the last two years, by himself and as a member of the #BEEN TRILL# collective.
He has also released a mix he’s calling Tape One, a collection of songs he keeps in rotation during his sets.
It spans a wide range of genres, from electronic to juke to hip-hop, with artists such as Wiz Khalifa, Lunice, Daft Punk, Lil Silva, and the late DJ Rashad all included.
This is likely the first of many to come.
Watch Virgil Abloh share his DJ tips with Absolut at Coachella.
Posted by The FADER on Friday, 17 April 2015
Virgil tracks on Sound Cloud
About Virgil Abloh
Born and raised in Rockford, Illinois with Ghanaian heritage he received his Masters of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology and his undergraduate in Civil Engineering at the University of Madison-Wisconsin.
After working for an architecture firm for two years, Abloh shifted his focus to fashion.
In 2009, he founded RSVP Gallery, an art gallery and menswear boutique in Chicago.
That same year, he joined Kanye West’s creative agency Donda as creative director, overseeing projects like stage shows and concert merchandise.
In 2012, Abloh launched his first fashion brand, Pyrex Vision, which controversially (albeit hugely successfully) screen-printed logos onto Champion t-shirts and dead stock Ralph Lauren rugby shirts.
Alongside this, he collaborated with Matthew Williams and Heron Preston as part of a collective called Been Trill.
With Pyrex all but grinding to a halt in 2013 later that same year, Abloh launched luxury men’s and women’s streetwear label Off-White out of Milan, Italy.
The brand was quickly picked up by leading stockist’s, and then had it’s reputation further enhanced when it started to be worn by the likes of Jay-Z, ASAP Rocky, Rihanna, Beyoncé, and more recently Kendall Jenner, and Gigi Hadid.
The Off White collections saw a youthful approach to an urban wardrobe, with a high fashion edge, and became synonymous for their artistic prints to quality wardrobe staples.
Offering a unique and signature touch with the iconic white stripe motif which is brash, loud, and instantly recognisable Off White has become a must have brand.
Manufacturing is based in Milan with a core value of the brand to be made from the best available and particular opinion regarding fabric, fit and fabrication.
The results are a young brand embracing the now in a sophisticated manner.
In 2015, Off-White was an LVMH Prize finalist.
About Civic Underground
Formerly known as the Civic Theatre, an original cabaret and live rock venue, The Civic Underground was refurbished in 2008 with an innovative interior including white plush booths, an illuminated panelled ceiling which continuously changes colour, and a sunken dance floor in front of the stage.
The club boasts one of Australia’s cleanest club sound systems, with an Allen & Heath V6 rotary DJ mixer and a Ramsa SX-1 front of house mixer amongst the venue’s collection high grade equipment.
Friday nights you’ll generally hear house and techno, with Saturdays tending towards disco
Monday — Sunday 10pm — 5am
388 Pitt St, Sydney NSW
SETTINGS˚ is an art-directed event showcasing emerging Sydney R’n’B/Rap/Hip-hop DJ’s and music producers, incoporating influences from contemporary fashion culture, photography and design
Its run exclusively by a group of Sydney based creatives, each specializing in a specific artistic discipline to create a cohesive product.
Created in 2016
The name comes from a number of influences, but was a word us our extended group of friends used in everyday life as a slang term when we’d be out in Sydney.
We feel it represents so many factors and influences within contemporary society – the connection the word has to place and our current situation, the digital connotations associated with our generation’s affinity with the Internet and social media, as well as it’s connections to culture within British grime and the extended association with rap and hip-hop.
It represents our current situation and the circumstances that surround us.
Before coming together, we all had a similar vision to create a unique representation of the culture we love, where we could express ourselves as individuals whilst executing our ideas within an aesthetic framework.
Whether it’s hosting events, image creation, sound production, working with film or product design, we wanted to create a platform where we could deliver projects under a single code or format.
We also felt there was a massive space within Sydney for young, like-minded people who share the same vision as us to create something that represents our city on a global scale.
The key thing we aim to do is ensuring we have complete control of the spaces that we work with, so we can encapsulate our complete vision, rather than simply placing DJ decks in a bar/club.
It has to feel art-directed and everything has to communicate.