The fashion world lost a titan and an icon on 28th November 2021. Virgil Abloh, the much-loved designer, passed away after a long battle with cancer. A trailblazer in his own right, he achieved way more in his 15-year career than most hope to achieve in a lifetime.
Founder of Off-white and artistic director of Louis Vuitton, Virgil Abloh, was battling a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma, to which he succumbed. Despite that, he continued reaching new grounds in the fashion industry. He was an outspoken advocate for inclusion and diversity and fought for marginalized voices to get heard.
Here are some of the highlights from his glorious career where he paved the way for modern fashion as we know it today.
Virgil met musician Kayne West while studying for his master in architecture degree at IIT or Illinois Institute of Technology. In 2009, both these individuals joined the same class of interns at Fendi. The following year, Kayne named Virgil the artistic director of his agency, Donda.
It was a multi-disciplinary agency that created marketing campaigns, immersive film experiences, and music covers. Abloh also got credited with the set design for the first Dw by West women show.
His first foray into his own brand came in the form of Been Trill. The brand eventually became Pyrex Vision. The disruptive designer that he was, Virgil appropriated existing pieces with his own brand’s logo.
In a widely remembered move, he took flannels from Ralph Lauren’s Rugby Collection worth $80 each and screen-printed the ‘Pyrex Vision’ logo on each shirt. Each shirt was resold for $550 each. It showed not only his entrepreneurial edge but also his spirit of disruption and mischief.
Virgil Abloh’s signature label, Off-White, was launched in 2013. The brand was instrumental in cementing streetwear in high fashion. At the intersection of the luxury industry and Hypebeast culture, the Milan-based label gained a radical following over time.
Off-White has collaborated with brands like Nike, Jimmy Choo, and IKEA. Abloh described Off-White as the ‘gray area between white and black’ to the fashion world.
Abloh collaborated with Nike to create a collection of 10 unique sneakers. The first release of the Nike x Off-White Air Jordan 1 set created a new craze for Jordans amongst enthusiasts.
Abloh applied his signature motifs like decorated details and air-quoted text to one of the greatest-selling shoes of Nike. In the years to follow, Virgil designed some 50 sneakers for Nike and apparel.
Abloh was named Artistic Director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton on 25th March 2018. The reason his appointment was legendary is that he became the first black designer to helm a major luxury brand. Moreover, he was also the first person of African descent to lead LV’s menswear line.
He showed his first collection of Louis Vuitton at 2018 Men’s Fashion Week at the Palais Royale Gardens. Apart from the fashion world’s giants, various art students also attended the event at his invitation.
In a statement to the press, he said, ‘I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.’
Sometime in the second half of 2020, Abloh raised $1 Million through the Virgil Abloh ‘Post-Modern’ Scholarship Fund. He did this in partnership with FSF or the Fashion Scholarship Fund.
The goal was to provide black students aspiring to work in the fashion industry with scholarships. In turn, it’d push inclusivity and diversity in the fashion industry.
Virgil Abloh is definitely one of the most influential contemporary designers of the fashion world to have lived. He came to the fashion industry from a circuitous route. Virgil wasn’t a product of any of the premier fashion institutes. Instead, he came from the world of music and branding.
An incredible source of inspiration for fashion students across the world, Abloh’s work celebrated heritage, exclusivity, and tradition. His goal was for his customers to see themselves reflected in his work and create a tightly-knit community.
From being appointed the first black artistic director at a major luxury brand to taking his personal label to new heights, Abloh achieved way more in his short career than many others hope to in a lifetime.
He carried Louise Vuitton into the future by infusing the brand with codes from his roots in streetwear and black iconography. Virgil was genuinely a soul that altered modern fashion at large in so many ways.
So that was the extraordinary life of Virgil Abloh. Inspired by Virgil to leave your mark on the fashion industry? Fashinza can help you connect with the right set of manufacturers and suppliers so that you can turn your dream designs into reality. Connect with Fashinza today!