They Fell For The Hype

With Ikea, Virgil Abloh shows that, for now, he can do no wrong. Outside one of the furniture behemoth’s stores this morning, his young, unquestioning fans support that


Ikea X Virgil Abloh

By Ray Zhang

“Virgil Abloh can put any shit anywhere, and there will be a queue to get it,” I heard one disgruntled (or maybe satisfied) guy tell his friend on board the free shuttle bus that takes shoppers from Tampines Central to the triumvirate of Giant, Ikea, and Courts, and back. Usually, on a Thursday (or most weekday) morning, old folks pack this bus to head to Giant for whatever specials the hypermart offers two days before the weekend, but this morning, the free transport was filled with an inordinate number of youngsters, mostly males. On the journey there, it was all expectant chirpiness, but on the way back, disappointment and displeasure pervaded the inadequately cool air of the bus.

When I got to Ikea slightly before noon, the queue has subsided. Many people—mostly adolescents—were milling around. Most were empty handed. Only few were carrying Ikea’s recognisable Frakta bag. From what I gathered, even before stepping into the store, the pieces from Ikea X Virgil Abloh’s MARKERAD collaboration were mostly, if not all, gone. Someone was heard saying “no point going in”. A standee was erected to indicate what was sold out. It appeared that much of the unnecessarily limited-edition collection were, including the brown “sculpture” bags (never mind that irony is really quite vapid now). That afternoon, when I looked at Carousell, some of the pieces where up for sale, with ridiculous prices that I do not care to repeat in order not to encourage what is essentially the work of scalpers.

A security guard told me that the queue had formed last night, “around 6 plus”, which means the shoppers spent the night outside the store—probably a first for Ikea, but an annual occurrence at H&M (check out what will happen on the night of the 6th, when collab addicts will line up for H&M X Giambattista Valli, officially launched the day after). From pictures posted on social media, it seemed that the “millennial homeowners” that Ikea and Virgil Abloh wish to appeal to are male, Off-White loving individuals with a penchant for back-lit Mona Lisa poster that doubles as a USB charger.

I can imagine Virgil Abloh fans queuing for sneakers and T-shirts, but I didn’t realise they’d do the same for chairs and glass cabinets and clocks and bedsheets that are neither accent pieces nor makeover accessories. Or were they merely repeating what yuppies (okay, too retro!) of the ’90s did when they wore Versace and used the brand’s plates and teacups, and sat among its scatter cushions? Today, these are hypebeasts happy to wear their expensive kicks on a shaggy green rug that says “wet grass”—quotation marks included (Mr Abloh and his fan base have a thing for superfluous punctuation)—for a ‘shoefie’, and to give a mass retailer such as Ikea an excuse to produce inexcusably limited wares. I suppose the thrill is in the moment, and, as accurately stated on that clock, because it’s “temporary”.

Photo: Ikea