Discover BEFORE and AFTER: a collaboration between SSENSE and Off-White featuring a film by Pierre Debusschere, an exclusive unisex capsule collection, and an interview with creative director Virgil Abloh.

Close your eyes and say the words “creative director,” and the first thing you’ll picture is Virgil Abloh. The former architect, world-touring DJ, and creator of rising streetwear line Off-White likes the title precisely because, he reveals, “it’s a catch-all to sort of do everything.” So it’s fitting that Before and After, the exclusive capsule collection he designed for SSENSE, was conceived not just as a clothing concept, but also a multilevel media experience. Watch the Pierre Debusschere-lensed film and you’ll understand.

Speaking over the phone from Coachella, Abloh opened up about inspirations, ideas, the zeitgeist’s shifting boundaries, and the power of youth. In short, everything.

Let’s start from square one. Tell me about the genesis of this collection.

The beginning, for me, started as a place to do something new. Working with SSENSE all started with an email. It was just like, what about creating a special capsule collection? I could have approached it as a more robotic thing. But I thought it was a unique opportunity to put me and Pierre Debusschere together under the SSENSE umbrella. I’m such a fan of Pierre’s work. I had been admiring of his aesthetic for a long time. So I wanted to put that on display instead of simply doing clothes and making a video about it.

I wanted it to be intertwined, so that it’s a collaboration between him and I as much as it is specially for SSENSE. The clothing was created at a 50% capacity, and only after we did the film would the 100% identity of the clothing be finished. And that’s the concept not only of the film, but of the clothes. I work on the silhouettes, fabrics, and details, and then, through the process of making the film, the color gets applied. There’s multiple layers of inspiration behind that, but the surface one being that through the process, you get this effect of color. And when you watch the film it completes the reason of why.

What I liked was that the clothes and film both capture a moment of transformation. That could be a metaphor for a lot of different things.

Yeah. The idea of freezing an energy. But also, as an overriding premise in my work, I like to remove the mystique behind design a bit. All with an effort to inspire kids and other generations, younger or older. I’ve always been a fan of a documentary versus just watching the finished film, or a fan of the director’s cut. Cause it allows you to dream even more once you know a little more of behind the scenes. That’s what I love about this project: the title “Before and After” and the whole energy of, you can see into the creative process and you’re looking at the final result at the same time.

It’s a great dimension.

It all started with something that could have been very surface level. And I’m proud of the fact that we were able, through conversation and talent and patience, to come up with something richer.

Discover more on SSENSE.COM