Off-White has officially been named the biggest brand in the world, according Lyst’s latest index. The global fashion search platform releases a quarterly report ranking fashion’s hottest brands and products, and over the last year the cult streetwear label has risen 33 places to command the top spot. Established by overnight sensation Virgil Abloh (now also Men’s Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton), it was one of the first to combine luxury and sportswear within a label, joining the ranks of Vetements and a rebranded Balenciaga to change the face of the high-end industry.
Gucci, Balenciaga, Nike and Prada made up the 2-5 spots respectively, but it’s Abloh’s social and celebrity savvy that is thought to have earned him the winner’s spot this quarter. Searches for Off-White across Lyst’s partner retailers are up 14% quarter on quarter, and it’s responsible for three out of 20 products in the hottest products lists. The biggest driver for the brand? Instagram, of course. Abloh’s ongoing collaboration with Nike has proved hugely popular across all social media platforms; alongside the monumental success of a sellout trainer collaboration series, the two teamed up again this quarter to dress Serena Williams for the 50th edition of the US Open in New York – exposure that jettisoned Off-White onto the global stage.
Abloh founded the brand in 2012, having spent a decade as a creative consultant for Kanye West’s brand and creative “think tank” Donda. The inspiration behind the label: giving validity to streetwear. The designer told The Business of Fashion: “In a large part streetwear is seen as cheap. What my goal has been is to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible.” The brand has since experienced unprecedented popularity, both on the internet and in sales figures. The label now has 5.5 million Instagram followers (plus 3.2 million for Abloh himself), and boasts 24 stores across the world, plus stockists including Selfridges, Harrods and Barney’s across the pond.
Whether it’s your taste or not, there’s no denying the celebrity power of the label – spotted on everyone from Kendall Jenner to Beyonce, Rihanna to Drake, Abloh’s is a brand for 21st-century consumers who shop, wear and regram what those in the public eye are shopping, wearing and regramming first. Plus, its position on the list confirms one thing: what we demand of our luxury labels is changing, with more focus on wearable, comfortable sporty styles and less interest in high-octane clothing and 'It' accessories. This doesn’t mean the brand eschews traditional luxury altogether – since its inception, Abloh has collaborated with Jimmy Choo, Moncler, Browns and Barneys NYC – but it’s this ability to straddle the two worlds that has rendered the label such a success. “With fashion you have to choose if you're high-end, contemporary or streetwear, men's or women's," explains Abloh. "Off-White is between black and white, there is no choice. It’s the idea that I wouldn't decide, which relates more to the consumer.”
You may not have heard of it before, but trust us – you’re going to hear a lot more about it from now on.