Virgil Abloh was born Sept. 30, 1980, in Rockford, Illinois, to Ghanaian immigrant parents. Abloh is the founder of the famous streetwear brand, Off-White, and is one of the most notable creative directors behind the Louis Vuitton Menswear Collection.
Abloh’s work within the fashion industry was revolutionary. He was coined by the New York Times as a “barrier-breaking Black designer whose ascent to the heights of the traditional luxury industry changed what was possible in fashion.” He passed November 28, 2021 after silently battling with a rare terminal form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma.
In honor of him and Black History Month, let’s take a look at some of Abloh’s most notable projects within the industry.
Virgil Abloh and rapper/fashion designer, Kanye West, were very close friends, meeting each other in 2002, and soon after taking the fashion industry by storm. West appointed Abloh as the creative director of Donda, West’s creative agency. Soon after, Abloh earned a Grammy nomination for his artistic direction on West’s and another rapper, Jay-Z’s, collaborated album, “Watch the Throne.” Some of Abloh’s most memorable work includes designing album covers. He did covers for “My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy” and “Yeezus” by Kanye West, “Luv is Rage 2” by Lil Uzi Vert, “WZRD” by Kid Cudi and many more. You can read more about Abloh’s other covers in Complex.
In 2013, Abloh released his first brand, Pyrex. The first garments under the brand name being ‘deadstock’ Ralph Lauren plaid flannels with screen prints of the name ‘Pyrex’ on the back. They sold for $550. Abloh then went on to rebrand Pyrex and turn it into the notable, luxury, hype beast/streetwear brand we know and love today, Off-White. According to Vogue, Abloh described the meaning of the brand, Off-White, as “the gray area between black and white.”
Some of Off-White’s most notable works include their partnerships with Nike and Jordan, which produced items such as ‘The Ten,’ ‘Jordan’ 1 and ‘Sail’ Jordan 4s. Other defining Off-White projects include the Mona Lisa Hoodie, the OffWhite Industrial Belt and the Arc’teryx x Off-White Dress. Read more about Virgil and Off-White’s work at HighSnobiety.
Off-White’s signature hovering quotations were inspired by how fashion adjectives are often used within writing. “It’s a place where fashion is a cultural conversation, much more than just expensive clothes” according to HighSnobiety. On Virgil’s work, 032c’s Thom Brettridge said “quotation marks are one of the many tools that Abloh uses to operate in a mode of ironic detachment. Abloh rejects the who-did-it-first mentality of previous generations in favor of the copy-paste logic of the Internet and its inhabitants. His new order is protected by a fortress of irony.”
In 2018, Abloh was appointed creative director of the Louis Vuitton Menswear Collection. Abloh is the first person of African descent to be head of a European fashion brand. Abloh’s first collection at Louis Vuitton in Spring/Summer 2019 in his newly appointed position was definitely one to remember. His collections had many odes to his predecessor Kim Jones, but also added hints of his own creative vision. There were lots of twists on how men dressed at that time and a play on men’s silhouettes, bright colors, fabrics and experimenting with repurposed accessories. You can read more about Abloh’s work throughout Louis Vuitton here.
To learn more about Virgil Abloh and his work throughout his career, check out these links: Vogue, Sneaker Jagers, and Time Magazine.
Virgil Abloh is an icon and a huge inspiration. His creative mind, artistic vision, inspiration and outstanding work throughout the industry is compacted into a legacy that will never be forgotten. Rest in Power Virgil Abloh.