Virgil Abloh-approved streetwear brand Vngrd – WWD

ONE book An untitled cover can be confusing, unless it’s artistically recognizable enough to need no introduction.

Rizzoli is publishing a new fashion book dedicated to the rise and fall of Vngrd, a pioneer Street clothing The brand originated in Milan in 2005 when fanzines were still a thing and the city’s youth elite didn’t have social media to channel their creativity.

Among the most iconic graphics the Vngrd team has developed in its nearly 10-year history is a hand-drawn octopus pattern featuring cascading tentacles, the latter of which appears on the cover of the glossy book 336 pages thick.

Vngrd was founded by Giorgio Di Salvo, the designer behind a number of Street clothing brand and project, with his friend Paolo Budua in the Milan subterranean setting. After some setbacks, they then started production by linking up with Iuter, another streetwear company with stronger business capabilities, providing the manufacturers’ contacts. The first collection – printed t-shirts – was released in 2006.

Di Salvo admits that branding is never really profitable, but that’s not the main goal, as he and Badua both agree in describing the brand as a “spirit, a radical approach , an implementation method”.

“We’re in our 20s, we love clothes, and our approach to dressing has a lot to do with the culture we belong to, the music we love, the subnet people, parties, human interactions,” explained Di Salvo at a book launch held at the Rizzoli bookstore in Milan.

The book on the coffee table reimagines the brand’s history, filled with images of their products – from early experimental outerwear to uncomplicated suits featuring psychedelic prints , including the octopus design – as well as team portraits and realistic behind-the-scenes images of the creation process. It also sheds light on the various collaborations the brand has amassed, from Slam Jam to Stüssy.

There is little or no information online about the brand though Kanye West introduced the fall 2008 collection on his personal blog, before asking the Vngrd co-founders to collaborate with him on a brand he was running then called Pastelle. That’s when the duo contacted each other late Virgil Abloh and Matthew Williams of Givenchy.

Abloh and other prominent figures in streetwear and underground, including Marcelo Burlon, founder of the Milan District owned by the New Guard and Luca Benini of Slam Jam, have written contributions by they give the book. Abloh recalls seeing octopus jackets on Hypebeast and thought it was “one of the most forward-thinking graphic designs, because it uses graphics to understand the shape of clothing.”

“The whole concept of the book is about historicizing the brand,” says Di Salvo. “Even if the experience lasted only a few years, it set a precedent for Italian streetwear,” he said.

VNGRD's octopus hoodie was originally re-released in 2021 to mark the brand's book launch.

The original Vngrd octopus hoodie was re-released in 2021 to mark the brand’s book launch.
With permission of VNGRD

By 2013, the day-to-day operations at Vngrd had ceased to exist but the influence of the brand and its aesthetic continues to be felt in the streetwear community. On its 15th anniversary, Iuter asked the Vngrd duo to release a solid capsule in the shape of an octopus. After the commercial success it enjoyed, Alberto Leoni of Iuter bought back the original design rights and founded a brand, named Octopus, to develop merchandise with the motif.

“The octopus will be forever iconic in Vngrd’s history, marking the most successful innovative product both in terms of visibility and sales,” added Di Salvo.

To mark the book’s launch, Octopus is releasing a limited edition collection of Vngrd’s original octopus hoodies from 2006, available in gray and purple, and a t-shirt from 2007 The capsule collection boasts the same screen printing technique originally used on Vngrd items.

The book, priced at 60 euros, is available at Rizzoli in Italy and will launch in the US on February 22, while the capsule collection is on sale at Slam Jam’s Milan store for a retail price of 200 euros and 100 euros for hoodie and t-shirt, respectively. Virgil Abloh-approved streetwear brand Vngrd – WWD


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