Virgil Abloh’s Off-White and Levi’s Made & Crafted have joined forces to produce a 12 piece collection, six of them being unisex jeans, that combines contemporary womenswear with Levi’s iconic heritage. The collection, which according to Jonathan Cheung, Levi’s head of design, is more of a “co-design than a collaboration,”. Entitled You’re Obviously in The Wrong Place, it's also loosely inspired by Pretty Woman.
Because caught up with Cheung in Paris to get the story on the new collection. It is a product of Levi’s Eureka Innovation Lab in San Fransisco, an atelier whose main purpose is rapid prototyping, making design mistakes (and learning from them) and bringing innovative ideas to life. It’s often used to test fabrics - its performance, how it washes, if it bleaches under the sun and of course, how it fits.
Levi's Made & Crafted x Off-White
The Eureka Lab also focuses on solutions for more sustainability. Levi’s has been able to make industry-changing breakthroughs by finding ways to use 30% less water, less electricity and less chemicals. "For me, knowing that I’m getting up in the morning and I’m going to work in an amazing place like Eureka, makes all of the difference”, says Cheung. "When Eureka is in full-song in the middle of a season, it’s buzzing, and all of the machines are singing. You can stand at the top, look down, and think, 'There’s no better place on the planet to be doing this with denim.' And that has an enormous effect on your belief in what you do as a living. It’s something very special."
It’s no surprise then that Virgil Abloh, founder of Off-White, was impressed with the Eureka Lab when he experienced it firsthand. Like many other designers, Abloh was a longtime fan of Levi’s. He travelled to San Francisco to trawl through the company’s archive that spans over a century and a half.
“He turned out to be humble, curious, and eager to learn," says Cheung. "He genuinely respects Levi’s. So we invited him to come back and that’s it really. The ball got rolling, and nine months later, the baby has arrived."
The edited collection of deconstructed pieces echoes the high-low ensembles that were worn by Julia Roberts in the 90s film and reflect the way women dress today. It was about mixing vintage with modern elements and merging classic with runway while pushing the boundaries of denim. Think of the unisex jeans as the classic 501 shape with a twist. Was this collaboration easy? "I wouldn’t say it was easy," says Jonathan, "but it was exciting and pleasurable because parts of it were very intense. There were 15-hour days. Actually, there was a week of that, at least in part."
Levi's Made & Crafted x Off-White is available online at www.off---white.com and in select retailers.
Text by Nada Ghaffar