Inspired: Virgil Abloh
Inspired: Virgil Abloh
- Words Grailed Team
- Date August 8, 2019
At this point, Virgil Abloh is a household name. His journey from Illinois Institute of Technology graduate student to Louis Vuitton men's artistic director is well established, and his unorthodox entry into fashion's highest echelon has enabled peers, former employees and fans alike to fundamentally shift the fashion paradigm. Regardless of your personal opinion on Abloh, you cannot deny his global impact.
From working on designs in a Chicago print shop to his blog The Brilliance, Abloh caught the attention of Chicago's creative class early. What followed was a now legendary 10+ year partnership with Kanye West, which began with an internship at Fendi and involved into one of the most celebrated artist/creative director duos in media. Over a decade, Abloh's string of endeavors—#BEENTRILL#, Pyrex Vision, his time at Donda, the Yeezus tour—eventually led him to found his first full ready-to-wear line, Off-White in 2012. In the seven years since, Off-White has become the one of the fastest growing luxury brands in the world, simultaneously smashing sales records while helping break down the barriers between streetwear and fashion proper. With 24 retail locations spread across the globe and hundreds more stockists, Abloh's influence—coupled with his innumerable other pursuits—transformed the Chicago native into the undisputed king of the youth. While juggling CFDA wins, LVMH nominations and fashion shows in Paris, Abloh was perennially on the move, jet-setting across the globe to various DJ gigs while working with Nike on the "The Ten". After dropping his landmark Nike collaboration in 2017, Abloh reshaped the sneaker landscape in his own image, dethroning mentor West and helping Nike regain sneaker dominance all the while. Considering his immaculate track record, it should have been no surprise when Louis Vuitton named him as former men's artistic director Kim Jones' replacement in 2018, the first Black American in history to helm a French luxury house. With his unparalleled influence over the millennial audience—few men have enough projects under their belt to hold a "mid-life" retrospective at 38—no one is as qualified to usher in a new generation of luxury shoppers as Abloh. Yet, despite his incredibly disparate roles and the countless hats he wears, for Abloh there has always been one through line—clothes.
The man who has argued Supreme is equally as important as Chanel, Abloh's obsession with every asset of clothing is readily apparent in the way he dresses. From wearing a Supreme box logo to his LVMH final presentation to Rick Owens cargos while DJing with #BEENTRILL#, Abloh has been obsessed with gear since he started screen printing his own T-shirts in college. While his style has not always been exactly on point—Tommy Ton's famous "South Park" Paris Fashion Week photo didn't exactly age well for him—over the past five years he has sparked as many trends as he's helped design, from bringing back early '00s skate shoes to transforming the Christophe Chemin x Prada "Impossible True Love" shirt to the season's must have item. Now, at Louis Vuitton, that influence is even more apparent, designing items that, despite their often five-figure price tag, still instantly sell out and command considerate after-market mark up. While his style isn't for everyone, Abloh's ability to identify key items, whether he designed them or not, is remarkable. His style is reflective as such.