The rise of Virgil Abloh
Posted on February 28 2019
Founder, creative director of Off White, and Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton Menswear
The American DJ/architecture and engineering graduate, Virgil Abloh, now the world’s most famous menswear designer shaping the global fashion industry.
Long-time friend and creative consultant to global phenomenon, Kanye West, Abloh has risen from the outskirts of Chicago to establish his work as one of the most influential brands in the world.
In 2002 Virgil Abloh graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in civil engineering, and soon after went on to complete his masters in architecture from the Illinois Institute of technology, where his interest in fashion first sparked.
After discovering his true passion, he founded RSVP Gallery in 2009. A crossover between art gallery and boutique that brought big names like Big Sean, NERD, and Travis Scott to visit the Chicago space.
That same year, Abloh was named Creative Director of Kanye West’s agency Donda where he looked after stage shows and concert merchandise.
As RSVP captured the cultural movement of luxury fashion x streetwear, the gallery collaborated with worldwide artists Lupe Fiasco, A$ASP Rocky, Future, Kanye West, The Weeknd, George Condo, and Jerry Lorenzo.
Abloh launched his first high fashion brand Pyrex Vision in 2012. The label was known for reimagining streetwear by screen-printing logos on a collection of deadstock Ralph Lauren flannel shirts and Champion tees.
He told Dazed magazine, “I never made the conscious decision to be a designer. I just had an exorbitant amount of ideas; fashion design is a place for people like that”.
However, despite his initial intention, he had disrupted an entire industry and in 2013, created a new platform for his audience - Off-White.
“With fashion, you have to choose if you're high-end, contemporary or streetwear, men's or women's," explains Abloh. "Off-White is between black and white, there is no choice. It’s the idea that I wouldn't decide, which relates more to the consumer.”
The Milan-based label showcased its collection at Paris Fashion Week and was nominated for an LVMH prize a year after its initial launch in 2015.
Since then, celebrities including Jay Z, Beyonce, Rihanna, ASAP Rocky, Drake, and Chris Brown have been spotted wearing the luxury streetwear brand. In 2017, the Off-White Founder was awarded the British Fashion Awards Urban Luxe award and International Designer of the Year at the GQ Men of the Year Awards.
While his label is now seen as the hottest brand in the world by Lyst, Virgil Abloh is still making waves with his first show as the new Men’s Artistic Director for Louis Vuitton this year.
Abloh showcased his debut 56-look collection for Louis Vuitton at the Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show on a rainbow spray painted runway where models from every country walked to focus on diversity and inclusivity.
The Winter/Fall 2019-2020 collection was showcased at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris on a runway designed to recreate the streets of new york. Transforming the gardens of the Palais Royale into the concept of marrying street with luxury.
Abloh proclaimed he aimed to “Take that streetwear mentality and put it on the fashion timeline with that same respect that that industry gets and join those two things together”.