Off-White Logo

Off-White Logo
The logo of the US fashion label Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh has created a curious precedent. Unlike many other companies striving for a unique emblem, the Off-White logo uses motifs that are in no way exclusive. In fact, none of the logos is unique – they were borrowed from the Glasgow airport design system developed in the 1960s.

Meaning and history

Off-White Lоgo history


There’s more than one logo. First, there’s a four-way arrow, which can be used either with or without a horizontal bar above.
Next, there’re at least three marks consisting of alternating parallel diagonal lines in black and white. Two of the marks include fifteen diagonal lines creating either a square or a rectangle. The third version consists of nineteen lines forming a rectangle.
Also, we should mention the wordmark logotypes.

Where have the arrow and stripes come from?

Off-White
In 1964, the firm Kinneir Calvert Associates developed a design system for the new Glasgow Airport. Part of the system was a black-and-white emblem looking like “St Andrew’s Cross, with arrows pointing in and out.” In other words, exactly like the Off-White emblem.
Moreover, Margaret Calvert and Jock Kinneir developed a paint scheme for the Glasgow airport’s vehicles and flight ladders. In addition to the arrow emblem, it featured a yellow striped pattern, which was typically placed on tops of the vehicles to make them better visible from the air.

Inspiration behind the symbol

Off-White symbol
So, Abloh just borrowed the two symbols as they were (only replaced yellow stripes with white) and built his own brand on them. Could it be a mere coincidence? In no way!
To begin with, as Abloh’s has an undergrad degree in civil engineering, he should have come across the project during his studies.
He also holds a master’s degree in architecture, which makes the fact that he hadn’t seen the Glasgow airport design even less likely. In fact, Calvert was one of the most influential designers of the era. In the 1950s, Margaret Calvert developed unified signage for roadways in the UK, which was just one of the major projects she performed.
And, eventually, one more fact to show that Abloh actually borrowed the logos on purpose, not by chance. By the early 1960s, Jock Kinneir and Margaret Calvert were developing a signage system for the British Railway system. They designed a font called Rail Alphabet, which could be used in six weights. Guess how the lightest weight was called? “Off White”!
So, even if Abloh was ignorant of the Glasgow airport design system (which is hardly possible), no one can believe that he chose the name of another Calvert’s creation, “Off White,” as the name of his brand by chance. Here, one more question arises. What was the reason for this?
The answer lies in the very essence of the streetwear culture which gives a new meaning to things invented earlier. Look around – you have probably seen the Off-White logo more than once today – on cross-walks and on road signs, on tapes, etc. Such universal symbols make any brand seem larger than it is.

Font

Off-White emblem
You can come across three versions of the wordmark logo, each using a different type.

Colors

Off-White Lоgo
The company opted for a simple black-and-white palette.