A 19-year-old Shaun White announced himself in an unforgettable 2006 Winter Olympics on the halfpipe in Turin, where he won his first of three gold medals as he stood tall on the podium with his fiery red hair.

Now 35, the legendary snowboarder arrived at his fifth Olympic Games in Beijing with a short comb-over to honour his late friend Virgil Abolah in newly designed Louis Vuitton gear.  

The three-time Olympic gold medalist accidentally met the American fashion designer who worked as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, while he was training at Mammoth Mountain – a resort in California for skiing and snowboarding in the winter, and mountain biking in the summer. Abloh and White mingled together through their shared passion for snowboarding and design. 

White launched his personal brand called Whitespace on Jan 13., which features snowboarding hard goods, athletic equipment, and streetwear apparel. He’s been using his own board to compete. In this year’s Olympics, he’s carrying his gear in a custom-designed case by Louis Vuitton, which was designed by Abolah and himself.

Abloh and White designed a series of items stamped with the trademark “LV” logo, featuring a snowboarding case, and a matching guitar case that is both soft-shell and black. The other two items in the collection include a small travelling bag and hand luggage. All these items are finished with a thick white stripe, inspired by Whitspace’s branding. The luggage set was developed at LV’s headquarters in France by six artisan workers who worked more than 250 hours to finish the pieces mainly by hand. 

“I was thinking about launching Whitespace, so I called Virgil to ask his advice,” said White in a post made on Instagram. “During the call, I told Virgil, ‘I’ve also wanted to make a Louis Vuitton snowboard trunk,’ to which he replied, ‘No effin way!!! We have to make this happen!’”

Abolah’s team at Louis Vuitton started sending White ideas and sketches to determine the final design after their subsequent phone call. “We definitely were still talking and working together even after Virgil’s passing,” he told Vanity Fair. “I didn’t even put [the sketches] away when I got home, I just set them outright in the living room. They’re just on display, I think they’re so perfect.” 

White, who plays guitar and previously performed as the lead guitarist with the band “Bad Things,” told the press that the Beijing Olympics will likely be his last snowboarding competition.

“I think this will be my last competition too, which is pretty special,” said White. The Whitespace and Louis Vuitton collaboration has yet to receive an official release date. 

Published by HOLR Magazine