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Pyrex Vision, Tracing the Roots of Virgil Abloh’s Streetwear Legacy

Welcome to the 54th insertion of DEMUR®, an analytical series highlighting the intricacies of the artistic world and the minutiae lying within. In this episode we dissect the story of Pyrex Vision, Virgil Abloh’s solo-label that caused public outrage, sold-out, and later became Off-White.

First started in 2012 as a “streetwear” label, Virgil Abloh momentarily stepped away from Kanye West’s “DONDA” management to pursue an idea of rebellion. Deterring from the industry commonplace and embarking on a journey foreign to anything previous, Abloh summoned the ties of street culture and affluence to create a namesake known as Pyrex Vision.

Embracing a mark of Abloh’s personal identity through screen-printed graphics and Champion blanks, the label would soon be celebrated for its great influence and forward thinking - but not before mass outcry. As “Pyrex 23” was embedded into the back of alleged (but obvious) Polo Ralph Lauren Rugby flannels, the internet exploded with hatred, not only for the blatant rip, but more conclusively for the 700% markup they retailed for. Ironically, the garments sold out, and established the footwork for the label’s skyrocketing success.

The brand was a pioneer in cliche fashion, a medium seen in Demna Gvaslia’s Vetements, and more recently, Balenciaga, but remained authentic to the Chicago sphere in which it was conceived. All garments released paid homage to a greater heritage, “Pyrex 23” itself breaking down into a smaller medium. Pyrex branded jugs are traditionally used to make crack cocaine, and 23, a nod to the Chicago native, Michael Jordan, and his signature jersey number.

Virgil Abloh strived to encapsulate the surrounding media and funnel such into an enraging cesspool of digital conversation. In the age of Hood by Air, the resurgence of Raf Simons and a breach into luxury from an unexpecting minority, Pyrex Vision brought luxury streetwear into a new stature. Through cliche, the designer refuted norms and made people angry, shying from nothing and celebrating his critics.

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