Virgil Abloh was an American fashion designer and entrepreneur. He was seen as one of the most influential and respected fashion designers of our generation. MA Luxury Brand Strategy & Business student, Kevin De Silva time travels back to look at the impact of his creative work and how he revolutionised luxury streetwear fashion.
Abloh was best known for his work for being the Creative Director at Louis Vuitton but also the CEO of the streetwear label Off-White. Not only this, Abloh was also an architect, DJ, engineer, and a musician. His unique sense of style attracted a variety of audiences from everything to clothing and footwear, to music and furniture.
“You know who I am most inspired by? That kid that hasn’t had the chance to showcase their brand yet. Those kids motivate the work I do every day. That’s the muse for me: the next generation. And I want my work to inspire people like them.” – Virgil Abloh.
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About Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh was born on September 30, 1980, and died on 28 November 2021, due to cancer. His mother came from a seamstress background. Whereas his father owned a paint company. Abloh graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 2002. Four years later he then received his Master of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006. Entering the world of fashion, Abloh received an internship at Fendi in 2009, alongside American rapper Kanye West.
In 2012 Pyrex Vision was founded by Virgil Abloh. The brand had started out by selling deadstock shirts from Ralph Lauren but relaunched in 2013 as Off-White. A year later, Abloh had then added a womenswear line and showcased his collections at Paris Fashion Week for the very first time.
Streetwear style became the essence of Off-White as it began to gain worldwide recognition and made waves with its distinguishable branding with the yellow belt adorned with the brand’s name – resembling a luggage strap. Elevating their collection from streetwear to more elaborate designs the brand ranked high in popularity between the years of 2018-2021. Off-White is one of the leading streetwear fashion brands of all time and they have collaborated with top brands including Nike and Levis.
In 2018 Virgil Abloh was named as the Creative Director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready-to-wear line – this made him the first ever person of African descent to lead the brand’s menswear line. Abloh debuted his collection at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris where Playboy Carti, Steve Lacy, A$AP Nast, Dev Hayes and Kid Cudi walked the runway.
Most unforgettably, in 2020, Abloh created the LVMH Black Database. This was essentially a database of new black talent that LVMH could work from. He also launched the LVMH diversity panel, where he advocated for diversity and representation across the company. Abloh’s collection for LV including ‘NIGO’, ‘Heaven on Earth’, ‘Air Force 1’ and ‘Amen Break’ clearly captured the signatures of sport and streetwear fashion and set the template for a raft for other brands to follow.
Virgil Abloh’s impact on luxury streetwear fashion cannot be overstated. He has broken down long standing barriers in the fashion industry and has paved the way for a new generation of designers – showing the unique, strategized blend of high-street and streetwear fashion. His work has redefined what it means to be a luxury fashion brand and has popularised the trend of merging the two worlds together. Abloh’s legacy in fashion is already significant, and it will continue to be felt for many more years to come.
By Kevin De Silva – MA Luxury Brand Strategy & Business