Virgil Abloh-The Man Who Blew Up The Fashion World
Virgil Abloh is perhaps the most important man in fashion right now, about whom you might have never heard of. He is credited with single-handedly bringing in urban wear within the purview of high fashion. Virgil’s brand, Off-white merged the youthful energy of the street wear with refined sophistication, culminating in a brand that was hailed as a game changer. His collaboration with Nike consisted of a complete overhaul of their ten classic sneakers, which took the sneaker world by a storm. And now as his tenure as the creative director of Louis Vuitton, there is surely much more to come.
Virgil Abloh was first brought into the limelight with Kanye West’s long time collaborator. He is credited with co-designing the iconic cover for Kanye’s 2008 album, ‘808’s & Heartbreak’ followed by being credited as the art director of ‘My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy’ and ‘Watch the Throne’, for which he received a Grammy Nomination for the best recording package. Throughout the years, he would serve as the creative director for artists like Pusha-T, John Legend and A$AP Rocky. The duo (Kanye and Virgil) interned at Fendi in 2009 to get an insider’s perspective into the fashion world. Apparently they were already breaking boundaries and blurring the lines, as evidenced by Kanye’s famous leather jogging pants rant on Zane lowe.
Pyrex Vision was Virgil’s first official foray in the world of fashion. With artists like Jay-Z, Kanye, A$AP Rocky and Theophilus London flaunting his gear, the off-beat project soon took off and was all the rage. The initial range consisted of eclectic mix of bombastic collegiate lettering and renaissance paintings that were screen printed on champion tees, basketball shorts and rugby flannels. While one might think that the exorbitant price (up to $550) for simple printed flannels would deter some perspective buyers, the complete opposite happened. The entire range consistently sold out within minutes. However, this did not come without its fair share of controversy. Complex.com reported that “It’s highly possible Pyrex simply bought a bunch of Rugby flannels, slapped “PYREX 23” on the back, and re-sold them for an astonishing mark-up of about 700%.” Regardless, Virgil had established himself as a disruptor in the world of fashion.
After that, Virgil shifted base and headed to Milan, where he setup his new brand ‘Off-White’. Unlike Pyrex Vision, which Virgil described as an ‘art project’, Off-white was his attempt to be a part of haute couture. The classic diagonals, capital lettering and barricade tape soon became signature style for Off-white. His first collection in 2014 was a natural extension of Pyrex Vision but his subsequent offerings were subtler and more mature. Off-white garnered critical attention from both the industry and the outsiders that were looking in. Virgil was the finalist for the prestigious LVMH prize in 2015 – the only American that year. His collections were the hottest topic in Milan and Paris.
Despite his prolific output, Virgil still did not slow down. From a collaboration with IKEA to directing a music video for emo-rapper Lil’ Uzi Vert, he kept himself busy with many different artistic pursuits. The re-imaging of Nike’s most iconic 10 sneakers by him were hailed as the best sneakers of the year and caused quite some chaos on the resale market. But, all of this pale’s in front of Virgil’s crowning achievement in early 2018, when he ascended to a position which many in fashion aspire to reach: The artistic director of Menswear at Louis Vuitton.
Undoubtedly, Virgil blew up the fashion world.