It’s been 2 months since the news broke of Kim Jones' departure from Louis Vuitton. Today, the rumors of who will fill the position can finally end; Off-White’s Virgil Abloh has been announced as the Men’s Artistic Director for the storied French house.

This is monumental news for not just both parties but fashion as a whole, as Abloh will be the first African-American designer to be the head of design at an LVMH-owned house. While there are a few people of color in the business—including Kenzo’s Carol Lim and Humberto Leon and Balmain’s Oliver Rousteing—the glass ceiling minorities face in the fashion industry still feels firmly in-place.

Furthermore, the appointment is yet another indication that the luxury space is looking to tap the “hype”-focused, streetwear-conscious consumer. As brands like Balenciaga have flourished thanks to its recognizable, street-ready oversized aesthetic and trendy Triple-S sneaker, it’s obvious that Louis Vuitton would like to get in on the action. From the scrappy Pyrex Vision, to the original iteration of #BEENTRILL# (shouts to Matthew Williams, Heron Preston and Justin “JJJJound” Saunders) and ultimately Off-White, Abloh has been able to recontextualize aspects of the wider streetwear world and elevate them into something that’s coveted across the buying spectrum. Given that Abloh is not a designer by trade (he received a degree in civil engineering from the University of Wisconsin, followed by a master’s in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology), his history and this appointment is all the more impressive.

“I feel elated,” Mr. Abloh said via phone on Sunday to Business of Fashion. “This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams. And to show a younger generation that there is no one way anyone in this kind of position has to look is a fantastically modern spirit in which to start.”

Though this is Abloh’s first high ranking position at a luxury house, it doesn’t appear to be the first time he was considered. Rumors swirled that Abloh had discussions with Givenchy following Tisci’s exit, but the position eventually went to Clare Waight Keller, formerly of Chloé. Abloh explained to WWD at the time, “My trajectory is to update and provide something new in the fashion industry by way of creating a project and using it as a case study on how to update a luxury house.” Some would say LVMH executives took note of Abloh’s intentions.

Regardless, the addition of Abloh makes perfect sense after years of Jones’ streetwear influences making their way to Louis Vuitton’s runway. This intersection was clearest in Louis Vuitton’s massive collaboration with Supreme back during the Fall/Winter 2017 menswear season. If streetwear is the driving force for menswear (and, on a grander scale, fashion at large) who better than the man who presented his collection to a jury of LVMH designers in a Supreme box logo T-shirt?

“Virgil is incredibly good at creating bridges between the classic and the zeitgeist of the moment,” said Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton, to Business of Fashion. The two men first met about 12 years ago when Mr. Abloh spent six months interning at Fendi with Kanye West, where Mr. Burke was then the chief executive.

This announcement is yet another of what is a long list of changes LVMH houses are making in 2018. Just last week it was announced that Kim Jones, Abloh’s predecessor, will become the Men’s Artistic Director for Dior Homme.

From a business perspective, this move should be a boon for Louis Vuitton. While the brand clearly makes most of its money off luggage bearing its internationally-recognized monogram, Abloh’s collections will give the most valuable “luxury” brand in the world plenty of hype from the runway side of the business. Yes, the business of fashion lies in crafting successful bags, luggage and accessories—especially for a travel-centric brand like Louis Vuitton—but Abloh’s own penchant for accessories (looking at “The Ten” and the “Industrial Belts” in particular) should help modernize the monogram for today’s consumer.

As it stands, Abloh will continue to design Off-White and oversee the brand's many ongoing collaborations—including those with Nike, Sunglass Hut and IKEA. "[Off-White] is for the 17-year-old version of myself, whereas Vuitton is for the 37-year-old I am today,” he said to The New York Times. Abloh’s first collection with Louis Vuitton will debut at the menswear shows this June.

Shop more Virgil Abloh here.

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Tags: off-white, virgil-abloh, louis-vuitton