You may know Virgil Abloh from his high-end streetwear label Off-White, whose collab with Nike is one of the most sought after and collectible lines to ever come from the shoe giant. Even more likely, you’ve heard about his work as the longtime creative director for Kanye West. But, it’s the recent announcement of his appointment as artistic director of Louis Vuitton — the biggest brand of the world’s largest luxury group LVMH — that’s history making.
Thus far, Abloh’s career has been noteworthy for a number of reasons. He has no formal fashion education and has instead drawn from a background in architecture and civil engineering, as well from the skill set he learned at the knee of his seamstress mother. He landed a Fendi internship alongside Kanye in 2006 and was able to transition that into an important position at the musician’s fashion line. And, now, the first-generation Ghanaian-American is the first African-American artistic director and one of the few black designers at the influential French heritage house.
“I feel elated,” Abloh told the New York Times. “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.”
In addition, the appointment highlights the intermingling of the luxury industry and contemporary streetwear. This is an intersection of design that Abloh knows well, as he has worked with Moncler and Jimmy Choo in the past, developed startlingly well received collaborations with Nike and Ikea, as well as German luggage maker Rimowa. And, Louis Vuitton recently made waves in a collab with cult skateboarding brand Supreme. The design house clearly intends to keep moving in this direction.
To see what Abloh will bring to the table, fashion fans will have to wait until Men’s Fashion Week in Paris to see the first collection with the designer at the helm. In the meantime, he will continue to run Off-White and work with Kanye. He will, however, be easing off of his work as a DJ. There are only so many hours in the day.