Remastering classics: Off-White c/o Church’s captures Virgil Abloh’s pioneering legacy

In one of his last collaborations, the late Virgil Abloh united with historic footwear brand Church’s to ‘remaster’ the 1953 ‘Burwood’ Oxford brogue, a style first shown as part of his final collection for Off-White

Red socks and shoe
(Image credit: church-footwear)

Virgil Abloh’s work at both Louis Vuitton and Off-White – the label the late designer founded in 2012 – was fuelled by a spirit of collaboration, drafting creative forces from around the world to hone and populate his distinct worldview. It was apt, then, that his final collection for Off-White, shown at Paris Fashion Week A/W 2022, featured one of his last collaborations – the Off-White take on Church’s storied ‘Burwood’ Oxford brogue, which dates back to 1953.

In his typically irreverent style – which often saw him remaster classic pieces, placing them in new contexts without altering their essence – the brogue is stamped with ‘Special Events’, screenprinted onto the side of the shoe in Off-White’s signature white Helvetica font (as ever, it is surrounded in quotation marks, which Abloh utilised as a play on who ‘owns’ the design of a garment or object). Elsewhere, black calfskin replaces the ‘Burwood’s usual brown upper, the laces read ‘Shoelaces’, and a large luggage tag, in leather, immediately recalls Off-White’s signature sneakers. The shoes, the first in what Church’s call Abloh’s ‘remastering a classic journey’, are genderless, and will be followed by a second pair later this year.

The collaboration appeared as part of an A/W 2022 collection that urged the viewer to ‘Question Everything’, one of Abloh’s defining mantras as a designer (it appeared written on a white flag in one memorable moment in the emotive show). Church’s notes that he brought this same ‘seditious’ approach to this collaboration, drawing on the British brand’s artisanal traditions and history – which dates back to the 1600s – to create footwear primed for the present day. Released this week, the shoe will remain as one of many objects that capture and preserve Abloh’s pioneering legacy, no doubt proving a collector’s item for decades to come.

Black shoe

(Image credit: church-footwear)

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Fashion Features Editor

Jack Moss is the Fashion Features Editor at Wallpaper*. Having previously held roles at 10, 10 Men and AnOther magazines, he joined the team in 2022. His work has a particular focus on the moments where fashion and style intersect with other creative disciplines – among them art and design – as well as championing a new generation of international talent and profiling the industry’s leading figures and brands.