Yeah, we don’t know either.
It’s officially Fashion Week in Paris, and while you’re probably wondering why me, a college football writer, cares about that, well, let me tell you.
It’s because in Paris, it appears that football helmets are now considered A Look:
Yep, that is a Los Angeles Chargers and Texas Longhorns helmet. Those aren’t the only teams that have been featured in Paris — Clemson and Iowa have been, too:
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Wait, why in the hell are there football helmets in Paris?
OK, so all of these looks are by a designer named Virgil Abloh, whose line is called Off-White. He’s also the artistic director of Louis Vitton. While it’s unclear why exactly these football helmets are featured in certain looks, Abloh did attend Wisconsin, where he graduated in 2003. Here’s Abloh wearing a Wisconsin t-shirt during a 2016 event:
Abloh got his degree from UW in engineering in 2003, and creatively applied what he learned to an entirely different occupation:
At the UW, Abloh studied civil engineering at the advice of his father. Though he was “sort of irreverent” toward the major, he doesn’t regret it. “Everything I did, in some way, made this result happen,” Abloh explains. In studying engineering, he learned how to multitask and problem-solve — the basis of his career. “I have a philosophy on problem-solving, I guess,” he says.
A pause. I ask what that philosophy is.
“There’s … remnants of juxtaposition,” Abloh posits. He expatiates on the idea that functionality and modern humor are part of his approach to design, and that each solution should serve a purpose. “Sort of vague answers,” he concludes, “but that’s, like, a vague question.”
Abloh’s vague response to questions about his achievements may be a Wisconsin thing. He sounds a little like Badgers football head coach Paul Chryst trying to explain what makes his program so consistent.
From my colleague Louis Bien’s profile of Wisconsin’s 2017 team:
“Right?” he says. “But I think I do agree that there is a formula or a blueprint — or whatever, that’s even too fancy — but there’s a way to do it that I think is right and kind of time-tested for this place. You always want to try to improve that, but you don’t want to drastically change.”
”And we talk about this all the time: The best part of football is playing the game. And you only win the game at the end of the game,” Chryst says. “So if all you’re concerned about is winning the game, you missed the best part of the game, and that’s playing.”
Fashion designing aside, Abloh goes by DJ Flat White in the music world, and he is also really good pals with Kanye West.
Just last summer, Abloh shared a hug with Yeezy after his Louis Vuitton line debuted:
West helped Abloh get into the fashion industry, and the two actually go way back:
His entry into fashion happened in a roundabout way. Abloh, who studied civil engineering and architecture, got his foothold in the industry as West’s creative director (though he’s always been reticent about the job so his exact contributions have been hard to define), after the two struck up a partnership in the early 2000s. When he, West, and their crew went to the Paris shows in 2009, Abloh felt distinctly like an outsider. “We got into about 60 percent of the shows,” he recalled to W Magazine. “We were a generation that was interested in fashion and weren’t supposed to be there.”
But he and West had already made names for themselves through music, and being young and eager to learn, were able to get internships at Fendi. “We ain’t get to do nothing,” West said of the experience in an interview earlier this year. ”We were just happy to have a key card.”
We’ve reached out to Off-White regarding why football helmets were included in certain looks, and are eagerly awaiting a reply.
For now, some conspiracy theories about why the helmets are in Paris that are completely my own:
1. Fellow Wisconsin alumnus Melvin Gordon plays for the Chargers, so perhaps Gordon hooked him up there.
2. Abloh did release a line with Nike last summer, so maybe he’s just a football fan who who wants to include the sport with his work!
3. Texas is back folks, and everyone knows it — that includes Paris Fashion Week attendees.
4. Clemson just won the national championship, so being invited to the White House for fast food and getting your helmet shown at Paris Fashion Week is fitting.
Stay tuned as we further investigate football helmets at Paris Fashion Week.