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Virgil Abloh Says Streetwear’s Days Are Numbered

Virgil Abloh has confirmed what many were feeling after the Spring/Summer 2020 shows: streetwear is on the way out.

As the fashion agitator that helped bring streetwear influencers to the runway through his collections for Off-White, and more recently for Louis Vuitton, Abloh may be in the best position to pontificate about the category’s future. But streetwear’s death may bode well for vintage and the sustainable benefits of making existing clothes fashionable.

In an interview with Dazed, Abloh, who emphasized suiting in his S/S 20 Off-White men’s and women’s collections, was upfront about how streetwear is “gonna die” in the 2020s.

“In my mind, how many more T-shirts can we own, how many more hoodies, how many sneakers? I think that…we’re gonna hit this…really awesome state of expressing your knowledge and personal style with vintage—there are so many clothes that are cool that are in vintage shops and it’s just about wearing them. I think that fashion is gonna go away from buying [new]; it’ll be like, hey I’m gonna go into my archive,” Abloh told Dazed.

Kim Jones, Abloh’s counterpart at Dior, expressed similar sentiments about streetwear in November, suggesting to Highsnobiety that the term “streetwear” is redundant. “I get so bored of that term ‘streetwear,’” Jones said. “You wear clothes in the street, so everything’s streetwear. You can wear a couture gown down the street and that turns it into streetwear.”

Virgil Abloh says streetwear is on the way out.
S/S 20 Off-White PIXELFORMULA/SIPA/Shutterstock

If Abloh’s endorsement for vintage takes hold, and his millennial and Gen Z followers latch on to period pieces with as much gusto as they did with streetwear, luxury brands may be challenged to adopt resale business models.

Denim brands are already dabbling in vintage. Levi’s launched its Levi’s Authorized Vintage business in 2018. The collection, available at Levi’s stores, offers garments that are either 100 percent unaltered or styles that are retooled with slight adjustments by Levi’s own tailors.

Tommy Hilfiger teamed with New York City-based vintage retailer Procell this fall to collect and curate a limited selection of vintage pieces from the brand’s archives, focusing on styles from the ’90s and early 2000s.

Other brands are reworking vintage and deadstock garments. In June, Dockers tapped upcycled apparel brand Atelier & Repairs to update its classic chino pant with relevant details like camouflage piping and cargo pockets. This year Atelier & Repairs also retooled close to 500 archival pieces by Gap for a limited-edition collection to mark the brand’s 50th anniversary.