WhoDoYouKnow: Virgil Abloh

Ever stepped out feeling fly in an Off-White branded product, or a big fan of Kanye (sorry Ye), then you owe this man.

Born September 30, 1980 in Rockford, Illinois to Ghanaian immigrant parents. Virgil Abloh, referred to in some corners as the ‘Jesus of Design’ is a Fashion Designer, DJ, Music Producer, overall UrbanCreative (i should trademark that).

He attended Boylan Catholic High School, where he met his future wife, Shannon. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and the Illinois Institute of Technology, with degrees in civil engineering and architecture, respectively. After graduating from university, he entered the fashion industry, serving as an intern at Fendi in the same class as rapper Kanye West in 2009.

The Jesus of fashion

Placed in the company’s Rome, Italy office, the two began a collaborative relationship. A year later, West appointed Abloh the creative director of his creative agency, DONDA. In 2011, West asked him to serve as the artistic director for the 2011 Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne. The cover art was nominated for a Grammy Award seeing
Abloh receive his first major award Grammy Award for Best Recording Package.

Abloh launched his first company, Pyrex Vision, a small boutique of couture streetwear in 2012. Abloh purchased deadstock clothing from Ralph Lauren for $40, screen-printed designs on them and sold them for prices upward of $550. He closed the company down a year later as he did not intend it to be a commercial enterprise but an artistic experiment.

“In a large part streetwear is seen as cheap. What my goal has been is to add an intellectual layer to it and make it credible”
Abloh on the inspiration behind founding high-end streetwear label, Off-White.

Abloh founded his first fashion house and second business overall in 2013 with the high-end streetwear brand Off-White. Based in Milan, Italy, the company was described by Abloh as “the gray area between black and white as the color off-white” to investors and fashion critics. He launched the company’s women’s wear line in 2014 and showed the collections at the Paris Fashion Week.

In December 2017, he worked with Holzer to design t-shirts for Planned Parenthood in response to the Women’s March on Washington. In 2017, he was asked to design a new collection in conjunction with Nike entitled “The Ten” which had him re-designing a variety of the company’s best-selling shoes.

Abloh launched his first concept store for Off-White in Tokyo, Japan where he started the company’s furniture arm, Grey Area. He received the Urban Luxe award at the 2017 British Fashion Awards. Abloh was listed as one of TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2018, one of two designers named that year.

On March 25, 2018, Abloh was named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready wear line, marking him the first person of African descent to lead the brand’s menswear line, as well as one of the few black designers at the helm of a major French fashion house.
Upon his acceptance of the position, he stated, “It is an honor for me to accept this position. I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times”.

Abloh showed his first collection for Louis Vuitton at the 2018 Men’s Fashion Week at the Palais-Royal gardens in Paris. Celebrities like Playboi Carti, Steve Lacy, A$AP Nast, Dev Hynes, and Kid Cudi walked for the fashion show.


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