Fashion Meets Functionality: The Virgil Abloh x IKEA Collab
Off-White founder and IKEA collaborate on a limited-edition collection which introduces high-fashion to furniture design
Virgil Abloh is the multi-hyphenate designer that has partnered with Evian on the ‘Make a Rainbow’ water bottle, Nike on ‘The Ten’ range of reconstructed Nike, Air Jordan, and Converse sneakers racking up to $2,000 (£1,554) on the after-market and now, to add to this already impressive list, a 15-piece collection ‘MARKERAD’ with Swedish furniture giant IKEA.
After 2 years of teasers the highly anticipated range dropped 1 November in participating stores including the Croydon and Wembley branches and will sell whilst stock lasts. The overall concept of the collection, as stated by Abloh is taking what is often seen as mundane and giving it a fun, unexpected twist: “The ethos of the collection is to add an artful quality to anonymous objects”. This idea is clearly seen in the way the clock has the word “TEMPORARY” ($29 or £23) written across it to highlight how:
“Time never stands still. You can't stop it, it's an endless moment of the present. This white wall clock with a clean design encourages us to reflect about time and what it means”
...definitely not your typical IKEA product description.
Other pieces designed by the Louis Vuitton Artistic Director include the “WET GRASS” rug that is matter-of-fact in both its aesthetic and price-tag, costing only £199. The whole concept of the range was targeted towards millennials, those who are just starting out their lives, specifically those in their: “First phase of adult life, when you start making purchases for your space. Largely people grow up in their parents’ environment. They’ve never had to consider furniture. Then when they’re off on their own and have their own aesthetic, what are their first purchases? I’m interested in thinking about how those purchases are informed.”
Virgil’s inexpensive yet fashionable designs clearly bridge the gaps between designer product and the younger generation, and the cult-followed designer is functioning in-line with other brands. The French brand Vetements has done something similar in turning the mundane into the chic: think of the DHL x Vetements shirt priced at £212 released at SS15 at Fashion Week and Balenciaga’s platform Croc shoe of 2018 which cost £732 and sold out before even hitting stores. Unlike Abloh’s intentionally affordable and “democratically” priced pieces, Balenciaga and Vetements sell at much high-end price points.
As marketing tools, Abloh, Balenciaga and Vetements, clearly are tapping into brands that are familiar to a wider audience, whether an affordable furniture company, a foam shoe brand or a courier. Whilst fashion rejected logos in the past, it is clear that nowadays novelty and nostalgia is all the rage, as depicted in how designers are elevating the ordinary emblems of mass consumerism to reach a completely different audience and demographic that usually has little to do with luxury fashion.
Much like the statement white-on-white clock, the Abloh x IKEA collection is also 'temporary', with the rug, clock and the Mona Lisa artwork already selling out. Certain pieces of the stylishly functional range are still available to buy but we wouldn’t count on it.
Words by Hena Sharma
Graphics by Katie Janes