Virgil Abloh is the founder and creative director of the celebrity-endorsed, trending label Off-White. Off-White has gained a lot of popularity recently for its collaboration with Nike, but Abloh’s creations encompass much more than streetwear. As stated on their website, Off-White is a “fashion label rooted in current culture at a taste-level particular to now.” Off-White offers menswear, womenswear, accessories, and even loose concepts for furniture (aptly titled “Grey Area”). Though the average consumer may have not heard of Off-White, anyone with an interest in the fashion industry knows that this brand has been a ubiquitous presence both on and offline for years.
As the child of Ghanian immigrants, Abloh felt some responsibility from a young age to make his parents proud, and take advantage of the opportunities their sacrifices had afforded him. As reported by GQ, Abloh grew up in Rockford, Illinois and later attended the University of Wisconsin for an engineering degree; he then went to graduate school at the Illinois Institute of Technology to study architecture. In an interview with British Vogue and Naomi Campbell, Abloh said “I’m the opposite of, like, a rebel type,” so when his dad said he always wanted a son that was an engineer, Abloh was more than happy to explore that field.
Abloh is a force to be reckoned with. He’s had a close relationship with Kanye West since 2002, and has worked on album, set, and clothing design with West. He’s worked on Off-White since 2012, and created an empire out of it based out of Milan (though he still considers Chicago home). The list of Abloh’s accomplishments is incredibly long, and a full history of his creative output can be found here. But for now let’s look at the present, and how he’s expanding the discourse of high fashion and streetwear at Louis Vuitton.
In 2018, Abloh was named Louis Vuitton’s Menswear Artistic Director, and debuted his first collection with a larger-than-life installation that spanned 12 floors of the LV New York City flagship store on 5th Avenue. Abloh’s Louis Vuitton SS19 collection will be shown during fashion week in February, but a limited release of some items ran in New York City from January 11-17 last week. A full retail price list of the collection also dropped and can be found here. Items range from $290 to $78,000 (if you think that’s expensive, just wait for resellers to charge an arm and leg). Bags and trunks, belts, hats, and shoes are expected to be the highlight of the collection, and its pre-release success is already impressive but not surprising.
Abloh is a fresh pick, but this isn’t the first time Louis Vuitton has experimented with streetwear. In 2018, they collaborated with the popular streetwear and skate brand Supreme which garnered an insane amount of hype all over social media. Abloh’s first designs aren’t even available in LV boutiques yet, but Vuitton chief executive officer Michael Burke told WWD that a pop-up in Tokyo already made 30 percent more than their collab with Supreme in the first 48 hours.
So the question remains, are Abloh and Vuitton a match made in heaven? I guess we’ll have to wait and see the final product of his first collection. All I know is that Abloh is adored by all who work with and for him, and if his past creations are any indication, even greater things are on their way.
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