The designer that I admire is Virgil Abloh. He made “history as the first African American to take the helm at industry giant Louis Vuitton.” Virgil has an understanding of design and creativity that goes well beyond his fashion.
Virgil started off as an architect. He got a civil engineering degree at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and earned his Master of Architecture from IIT. He loved the Post-Modern style of Deconstructivism. This can be seen in his clothes.
Inspired by his mother, Chicago street culture, and the aesthetics he studied, Virgil began his career by designing t-shirts for the blog, The Brilliance. He was also known to make controversial comments against top brands like Gucci, saying they had poor designs and materials.
Virgil’s career quickly began to take off as popular names in hip hop and rap like Kanye West and Jay-Z began to work together. Eventually, Michael Burke, the ex-CEO of Louis Vuitton, also noticed Virgil’s work.
Abloh’s first company, known as Pyrex Vision, was made to appeal to the youth. He took popular brands like Ralph Lauren, added his own twist to the clothing, and sold them for a high price tag. He shutdown the company after a year though, as he started losing inspiration for the brand. Quickly after though, Virgil founded Off-White, one of the largest fashion brands in the name of street wear. The brand has over 10 million Instagram followers, has 49 stores across the world, and has annual profits of hundreds of millions. The brand features bold letters, quotation marks, zip ties, and tape over it. Some say this gives an industrial aesthetic, which isn’t very popular in street wear. However, this just shows Virgil’s unique ability to sell his products in an already overpopulated market. Off-White has also collaborated with large brands like Nike and Louis Vuitton. Virgil has even gone as far as designing furniture for Ikea. He created a chair with an elevated leg through the use of a doorstop.
Abloh has won tons of awards for his creativity, even including a Grammy for Best Recording Package in 2011, after working with Kanye. He also made GQ’s international designer of the year, and in 2018 Time magazine’s list of 100 most influential people in the world. This same year he became the artistic director for menswear at Louis Vuitton.
Unfortunately, Virgil passed away from cancer on November 28th, 2021. Today, New Guards, an Italian contemporary luxury company, runs Off-White.
I’m glad we have this shared interest! I would argue that Off-white clothes themselves are worth the high price tag. However, when companies like Off-white and Jordan collab, I think your primarily paying for the name.
I’ve always been a fan of streetwear and I do my posts centered around that too! I feel like Off-white collabs have become increasingly popular in the past few years and his passing definitely sent shocks throughout the world so I’m glad you did a piece about Virgil. Off-white Jordans for example sell for thousands of dollars as well as many designer brand pieces. I was curious if you agree with this idea of essentially paying for the brand or do you think these designers actually care about quality and material?