Virgil Abloh doesn’t have it easy in the fashion industry. Though he has a background in design (architecture, specifically), his beginnings as a creative director to Kanye West and the founder of streetwear brand Pyrex Vision paint him squarely outside the traditional establishment box. And yet as some question his validity as a designer—or at least his maturity as one—the Chicago native presses on, tracing his own creative lineage back to greats like Marcel Duchamp and Martin Margiela. “You don’t have to be a designer to be a designer,” the Off-White founder told the guests at his Columbia University talk Monday night. The line seemed eerily prescient, considering the rumors that Abloh might be up for Riccardo Tisci’s now-vacated gig at Givenchy. “The culture is more important than the perfectionism of the idea.” And according Abloh, he has that culture in spades. A little about the designer’s trajectory: According to him, Pyrex Vision was never meant to be a clothing line. It was originally only meant to be a 10-minute film featuring the work of Jim Joe and some shirts Abloh had made featuring the word “Pyrex”—the preferred material, apparently, for crack-cooking vessels—and the number 23, a reference to Michael Jordan. Growing up in inner-city Chicago, Abloh had often heard the adage that the only drug dealers and talented athletes made it out; the design was a riff on that. But such was the success that it eventually morphed into a short-lived brand. Read more at Esquire.