The fashion world was shocked by the news of Virgil Abloh’s passing last Sunday, November 28th. Virgil Abloh is many things—a designer, an artistic director, an architect, and a DJ, but most of all, he was a son, a husband, a father and a role model for a lot of young creatives around the world. 

Remembering Virgil Abloh And His Legacy In The Fashion Industry, off-white, louis vuitton,

Photo Credit: Filippo Fior/

He broke barriers by becoming one of the first black designers to take charge at a luxury fashion house, but even before becoming Louis Vuitton men’s artistic director, Abloh has been known to challenge the creative world with his vision—a vision that will forever be remembered by everyone. 

Virgil Abloh’s trajectory in fashion is untraditional. He had no formal training in fashion nor did he graduate from a well-known fashion school in Europe. Abloh graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelor of science degree in civil engineering. He was born to Ghanaian immigrant parents and his mother was his first fashion teacher (she taught him how to sew). When you look into Abloh’s journey as a whole, you will see how unconventional it was. An odd comparison compared to his European counterparts but that’s not to say it’s invalid. It shows that the greatest minds need only perseverance, inspiration and motivation to succeed. You also have to be clever to succeed in this industry and as we know, Abloh had a clever mind. 

In an industry full of creatives, how does one stand out? Abloh stood out not because of his technical designs, he stood out because his ideas disrupted the scene. We saw it from the beginning when he created Pyrex Vision. Screen printing deadstock Ralph Lauren flannels with a Pyrex Vision logo and the number 23 (an ode to his idol, Michael Jordan) and charging $550 for it. It was nuts! The markup was insane but he justified it by comparing it to luxury brands. Regardless, Pyrex Vision created a noise—no matter how short-lived—and it was the beginning of Abloh’s Off-White. 

Remembering Virgil Abloh And His Legacy In The Fashion Industry, off-white

Photo Credit: Off-White

At Off-White, Abloh had the reigns. His sarcastic, twisty, hijacking ingenious was more pronounced at Off-White. Soon enough the brand became very distinct—from the orange zip ties, diagonal stripes, logos, and quotation marks—it became the new symbol of luxury streetwear. But he wasn’t a fan of putting his brand in a box, “I was adamant: “This isn’t a streetwear brand. This isn’t a contemporary brand. This is designer, just the same way that X, Y, Z are designer, where you say their name and it carries this whole esteem and emotion to it” he said in an interview with GQ.

So he kept creating, making, and pushing the boundaries of traditional streetwear. His Spring ‘19 collection boasts the elements of athletic streetwear and high-fashion with neon spandex and tulle skirts. This same design was shown on Serena Williams when she competed at the 2018 U.S. Open wearing an Off-White x Nike tennis tutu. In his 2021 Resort collection, Abloh showed a bit more construction and cohesiveness that looked more high fashion than streetwear. It was one of his best ones to date. His last collection at Louis Vuitton that was shown recently in Miami, was bittersweet. Not only because of the obvious fact but also because the collection showed us an inspired Virgil. It looked like what could have been the beginning of a wonderful era for him at Louis Vuitton. To say he was gone too soon is a big understatement. 

Remembering Virgil Abloh And His Legacy In The Fashion Industry, off-white, louis vuitton,

Photo Credit: Louis Vuitton

As a designer, Virgil Abloh was polarizing. He was critiqued left, right, and center but he was also good at taking it with grace. I suppose, in a way, him being a polarizing subject in fashion was never a bad thing. Besides, it’s better to be talked about rather than be ignored. A polarizing designer is a better designer. In his part, it showed constant growth; to keep creating and making what he thinks is best; what his vision tells him; the same vision that disrupted the scene and will no longer be the same without him. 

Published by HOLR Magazine

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