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V IS FOR VIRGIL
BY: ISHITA KODE
COVER ART: JULIANNA LUKACS
V is for vision. V is for vibrance. V is for vigor. And V is for Virgil.
As I started writing this piece, I kept thinking about adjectives and descriptors. How does this letter describe fashion? I kept pondering upon how to connect the impact of these descriptive words to my passion. Suddenly, I stumbled upon the revelation that nothing is more impactful than a life.
Gone too soon, Virgil Abloh passed away on November 28th, 2021. An American fashion designer/icon and entrepreneur with a lifetime of experiences, Virgil was most well known for being the founder of Off-White and the artistic director of the Louis Vuitton menswear collection. Off-White, a luxury streetwear brand, was known for its financial success. Most notably, “Three days prior to release, Off-Whites were selling for an average premium of nearly 1200%- an astounding figure...Even at its lowest, however, the price premium for Off-Whites has been well above that of the Yeezys, and nearly double that of the Jordans” (Einhorn 2017). Abloh was known for “bridging hypebeast culture and the luxury world… and [transforming] the meaning of “fashion” itself” (Friedman 2021). Let’s take a moment to look back at all that Virgil accomplished.
Born on September 30th, 1980, Virgil Abloh grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. His mother, a seamstress, became his first introduction to the world of fashion. After surprisingly pursuing a Bachelor's Degree in Civil Engineering and a Masters in Architecture, Virgil then entered the world of fashion. Abloh joined Kanye West as an intern at Fendi in Rome. Moving forward, Virgil ambitiously transformed fashion with the notion that clothes were not just garments but “fungible totems of identity that sat at the nexus of art, music, politics and philosophy” (Friedman 2021). This disruption to fashion impressed Louis Vuitton CEO Michael Burke, encouraging him to follow Abloh’s career.
After a few projects with West, Abloh began his entrepreneurial career. Beginning with Pyrex Vision, a brand attributed to Abloh’s inspiration Michael Jordan, Abloh then developed Off-White. Off-White became an everlasting collaborative fashion endeavor, combining the ideas of streetwear, luxury, and art. Abloh defined the brand as being “the gray area between black and white as the color Off-White.” After opening his first store in Tokyo, and debuting a furniture collection in Milan, Virgil continued to expand his collaborative network and creations. Soon after, he was appointed as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton menswear.
After the years of impact seen above, it is evident that Virgil Abloh has had a profound impact on the world of fashion and where it is today. Through the introduction of fashion endeavors previously thought to be disruptive, Abloh bridged the gap between streetwear and the luxury world. A prominent social figure, Abloh is missed and honored by his millions of followers. With the power to inspire others, Virgil influenced the world and the wearable art we see and admire today. With a mission to inspire the future generation, Virgil has impacted us all.
“Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself”- Virgil Abloh.