Last week, Virgil Abloh was appointed the new artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear, following the departure of Kim Jones, who recently jumped ship to head up Dior Homme. Why does this matter?
It spells an almighty shift in the upper echelons of luxury fashion. Abloh, 37, is the man behind fashion’s most-hyped brand, Off-White, and becomes the first black designer to be installed at what is regarded as one of the hautest-of-haute Paris fashion houses. The only other designer of colour at a major house is Olivier Rousteing at Balmain – which can’t be compared to the might of Louis Vuitton, worth Dhs105.4bn in May 2017.
This is brilliant news. Not only does his appointment chime with the industry’s bid for more diversity at the highest ranks, it also reveals the value of an entirely different aesthetic – namely the unstoppable rise of the coolest streetwear, following the nomination of cult skate brand Supreme at the prestigious CFDA Awards and the rise of the souped-up trainer, logoed T-shirt and hoodie on every catwalk.
For Abloh, the whip-smart translator and promoter of youth culture, moving to LV doesn’t just make sense, it’s smart. (And, yes, those of you still obsessed with the Supreme/Louis Vuitton collab, under Kim Jones, will find the red monogrammed hoodie available on eBay from around Dhs23,000 – that’s close to seven times its original price tag).
Said Michael Burke, Louis Vuitton’s chairman and CEO, “[Abloh’s] innate creativity and disruptive approach have made him so relevant, not just in the world of fashion, but in popular culture today.” Meanwhile, Abloh simply posted an image of a Louis Vuitton trunk to his 1.9 million Instagram followers by way of announcement (receiving 17,900 comments and counting).
We can’t wait to see his first LV men’s collection in June. As for the Virgil reverberations, we can guarantee logo-loaded streetwear and collabs galore. It’s going to be Vablohous!
Gen-up on Virgil Abloh, the man who’ll change the face of luxury...
1980 – The Ghanaian-American designer was born in Chicago, Illinois. Attended Boylan Catholic School. Inveterate skateboarder, footballer and DJ. Studied civil engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Received a Masters of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology.
2008 – Kanye West ‘discovers’ Virgil, DJing under the (excellent) moniker Flat White.
2009 – Virgil and Kanye intern at Fendi Roma, before launching Pyrex Vision with Deadstock logo-printed rugby shirts via a video lookbook that proclaimed ‘youth always wins’. Attends the Paris collections with Kanye, famously turned down for 40 per cent of the shows they requested to see.
2011 – Art-directs Jay Z/Kanye West’s album Watch The Throne.
2014 – Launches high-end streetwear brand Off-White, with the Hadid sisters and Kaia Gerber modelling for his show.
2015 – Nominated for the prestigious LVMH prize.
2017 – Releases 10-piece collab with Nike, which sold out. Collaborates with Levi’s, Moncler and Ikea. Wins Urban Luxe Brand at British Fashion Awards.
2018 – Virgil named Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton menswear. According to Lyst, Off-White is the world’s fifth hottest brand behind Balenciaga and Gucci.
Photos: Jason Lloyd-Evans and Getty Images