“Fashion You Can’t Wear”: why IKEA x Virgil Abloh works
8 Oct 2019
As the artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection and CEO of Milan-based label Off-White, Virgil Abloh’s name packs some clout. It’s no surprise then that the family skewed brand IKEA collaborated with Virgil for their new collection, allowing them to synthesise with one of the sharpest minds in design.
Virgil’s vision was to see people “statement-dressing” their homes as they would their bodies. “It’s about elevating the anonymous, everyday icons that we use without noticing,” he says. Press have called the collection “bonkers,” so it seems IKEA is finally getting the attention it craved after encouraging Virgil’s imagination to run wild. Quirky pieces include a wooden chair with a built-in wedge and a ‘WET GRASS’ green rug. The collaboration shows that seeking a partnership with someone outside the industry can offer a different perspective, bring fresh ideas and surprise the market with a totally unexpected manoeuvre. On this occasion, it seems IKEA has been granted respect in return for the risk. The proof? The £400 ‘KEEP OFF’ rug sold out in five minutes.
To showcase the collection before the UK launch in November, the ‘try-on’ exhibition experience ‘FITTING ROOMS’ launched to coincide with London Fashion Week in Covent Garden. New homeware seems like a far bigger (and more permanent) commitment than an outfit, so the pop-up aimed to ease people into the idea of decking out their house by stroking, sitting and stepping on the wish list items.
Of course, timing was key. IKEA saw an opportunity to align the brand with one of the biggest events of the year without stepping too far out of their comfort zone. Rather than delving into producing their own clothes (definitely unknown territory), they are monopolising on LFW madness by bringing the talent to them. Virgil’s status was their passport into this new realm - a perfect example of a parallel industry partnership done well.