The late designer became the first Black American to lead a French fashion house, and changed the meaning of fashion forever.
From entering fashion in 2012 with a cult-favorite streetwear brand, through to heading the artistic direction of Louis Vuitton’s menswear from 2018 until his untimely death in 2021, Virgil Abloh’s cultural impact will be felt for years to come. Here’s why, ahead.
The latter would become the fire that fueled Abloh’s desire to pursue fashion. By 2009, he had scored an internship at Fendi alongside Kanye West, sparking an ongoing partnership wherein Abloh would later become creative director of West’s agency Donda.
The end of Pyrex immediately marked the birth of Off-White, Abloh’s Milan-based fashion house known for merging streetwear with luxury seamlessly. The brand had launched its womenswear line and joined the official Paris Fashion Week calendar by 2014, and quickly became a celebrity favorite.
The influx of collaborative launches between Abloh, Off-White, and a number of household name brands, including Warby Parker, Jimmy Choo, IKEA, and McDonald’s were a testament to his reach. However, it was an ongoing Nike collaboration that remains most notable.
Abloh’s partnership with Nike initiated in 2017 with “The Ten,” wherein the designer reimagined ten iconic sneaker styles, many now bearing his signature zip-tie tag. The collaboration remains ongoing following Abloh’s passing, with his shoe designs currently on resale market for thousands of dollars.
Abloh’s wide-spanning work earned him due recognition, including Grammy and LVMH Prize nominations, as well as winning awards from the British Fashion Awards and GQ. Meanwhile, Time named Abloh one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
Tributes following Abloh’s untimely death prove he was regarded for far more than his designing talents. Instead, the true impact lies in the efforts the designer made to leave behind an industry that was kinder and more inclusive than when he arrived.