Virgil Abloh. If you hear the name you automatically think of brands like “Off White” and “Louis V’, but just how did this come about?
People swear he just burst on the scene in 2017 and got lucky with “Off White” because Kanye rocked it a couple times. Let me tell you, it’s the complete opposite. Virgil took his chance over 15 years ago, ditching the engineering firm that he worked for and taking up on a job offer from Kanye West as creative consultant in 2002 under Ye’s agency “Donda”, named after his late mother. It’s not every day that someone gets the chance to work for Kanye West and Virgil recognized that, bonding and learning from Ye at every given chance, thats why when Kanye told Virgil ‘you will not be type casted in a box’ and that he had to go to Paris fashion week with him, he listened. Ultimately and kind of ironically those words came into fruition at Virgil’s collection at Paris fashion week with an emotional moment for Ye and Virgil on the Runway, embracing each other, looking back at how far they’ve come in the fashion world.
Virgils success doesn’t just stem from “Off white”. Before the mega streetwear brand was created, Abloh was already on the front lines in the fashion world interning with Kanye West at Fendi’s headquarters in Rome in 2009, as well as co-founding super successful streetwear brands like “Pyrex” in 2012 and “Been Trill” in 2013. Before the big streetwear brands, Virgil also co-created Chicago streetwear boutique “RSVP Gallery” with highly coveted designer and former Kanye West tour manager Don “Just Don” Crawley.
In 2016, Virgil got his first big shot in the design world when he got the chance to collaborate his brand “Off White” with heavy hitter brands like fashion mega “Moncler” and denim icon “Levi’s”. After two huge collab’s in 2016, Virgil took a chance and opened his first “Off White” stores including shops in Hong kong, Singapore, Melbourne, Toronto and more. This risk payed off for Abloh, as later that year he got the recognition he deserved, revealing his “Ten” collection in collaboration with Nike and converse which blew up all over the globe and easily becoming the biggest collab of the year putting brands like Supreme and Palace in the shadows for a while, which not many brands achieve.
Looking back at his career, Virgil credits a lot of his success to Kanye West as well as his fashion inspirations and friends, Kim jones (creator of Umbro) and Marc Jacobs (former creator for Louis Vuitton and now major fashion brand in his name “Marc Jacobs”). Abloh recognizes Riccardo Tisci, designer and creator for “Givenchy”, “Burberry” and “Versace” as his biggest influence in the fashion world saying “He reprogrammed my idea of what luxury was” in an interview with Vogue. In 2019 a retrospect of Virgil’s work will be held at the Museum Of Contemporary Art, showcasing the 950 projects Abloh has created and worked on over his career. So for the whiny hypebeasts out there who say “Virgil is only big because Kanye wears his gear” or “Abloh will never get bigger than Off White”, ask him at his next Louis Vuitton fashion show. I’m sure he won’t get back to you.