Tomorrow, June 21, Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton’s newly appointed creative director, will release his first Spring/Summer 2019 Men’s collection for Louis Vuitton during the Paris Fashion Week. In celebration for his momentous feat, here is a brief history of Abloh’s career and why his position at Louis Vuitton is so significant.
Virgil Abloh is a Ghanaian-American fashion designer. He was born in Chicago, Illinois to Ghanaian parents. He graduated from the University of Wisconson-Madison in 2002 and from the Illinois Institute of Technology in 2006 with degrees in civil engineering and architecture, respectively. In 2009, he worked for Fendi as an intern with rapper Kanye West, who later appointed Abloh to the position of creative director of DONDA.
Abloh later launched his first brand, Pyrex Vision, as an artistic experiment. At Pyrex Vision, Abloh bought vintage clothing from Ralph Lauren and screen-printed designed on them. These reinvented pieces were sold for hundreds of dollars. In 2013, Abloh founded high-end streetwear brand, Off-White. Off-White became wildly successful for its ability to marry traditionally high-end fashion with streetwear. Abloh’s pieces were critically acclaimed by LVHM and the brand’s success was followed by a number of collaborations with big name brands, Nike and IKEA.
In March of 2018, Abloh was named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear line. He is the first ethnically African designer to lead the menswear division. Alboh’s new position breaks the long-standing line of white and European designers in the world of traditional, high fashion that is rooted in white and European aristocracy.
In an interview with HypeBae, he said, “the elephant in the room is that I come from a different place into this storied lineage of fashion. And what I want to do is I want to be like the western movie where there will be like one black cowboy and I don’t understand where you came from. I kind of want to deliver a message. I come from this place and this place that is usually labeled streetwear. Oh, is this going to be formidable enough.”
Abloh’s collection is highly anticipated. The fashion world is curious as to how streetwear can collaborate with traditionally high-end fashion styles. Abloh has already released a few teasers for the show. He recently released photos of his first sneaker. The sold is grey, white and red with paneling, with an all-caps “VUITTON” branding. However, the most notable characteristic of the shoe is its uncanny resemblance to the Air Jordan 1s, a shoe that is often associated with streetwear. Other teasers include the traditional monogram Louis Vuitton handbag that is made of a translucent, holographic plastic material instead of the traditional monogrammed leather. Another teaser photo shows plastic chains that are accessorized around handbags and full looks.
Whatever is to walk down the runway, Abloh is sure to impress. His designs will provide a refreshing, modernized renewal of an old traditional brand.