Virgil Abloh’s Impact on the World of Fashion


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MILAN – JANUARY 15: Man with Off White sneakers with yellow belt before Represent fashion show, Milan Fashion Week street style on January 15, 2018 in Milan. – Image

By Ethan Winchester, FHNtoday Reporter

Virgil Abloh is an up and coming name in the realm of street wear and fashion, who has taken much inspiration from his colleagues in the Industry. Designers and rappers like Pharrell Williams, Nigo, Takashi Murakami and Kanye West helped to shape Abloh’s style. Recently, Abloh was hired as the Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton, which is a great achievement for anybody in the industry. Abloh’s appointment as artistic director also made history in the company, as he is the first African American art director at LV.

Abloh first became interested in Louis Vuitton and fashion after hearing the rapper Pharrell Williams referring to himself as the “Louis Vuitton don” in lyrics. During the time of his teenage years in the nineties, Louis Vuitton was a staple in the world of hip hop so much so that having a LV wallet was a status symbol. Brands like Louis Vuitton at that time were mainly targeting a luxury market, streetwear and hip hop styles were not looked at in the same way as they are today. Thanks to the help of Japanese innovators in the industry like Jun Takahashi, the founder of the Undercover brand, and Rei Kawakudo, the founder of the Comme des Garçons brand, these Japanese designers helped form the basis of what we consider streetwear today.

Abloh’s first forays into the fashion industry started with a internship at Fendi during his time at university. After the internship he made the album cover for Kanye West’s joint album Watch The Throne. He went on to start an experimental brand. His merchandise was Ralph Lauren shirts with printed images that he sold for ten times the price.

Abloh has had success most recently with his Off-White brand. The design of his Off-White products follows a ‘cheat code’ used by Virgil called the three percent approach. The three percent approach is the idea that changing a design of a shoe, or piece of clothing by a minimal amount will improve the design. The Off-White brand takes a Nike shoe and adds a word or phrase with air quotes beside it. This change increases the value of the shoe to many times the original. The price of a Nike Air Jordan 1 shoe goes from $115 to about $350, an Off-White Air Jordan 1 shoe goes from $800 to into the thousands. This hike in value for a quoted word or phrase on the side of a shoe is statement and an intentional irony.

Along with the three percent approach, Abloh employs a method that’s similar to sampling in the music industry. When designing a piece of clothing Abloh will take an already established object, place or brand and add his own creative vision to it. This practice is also very similar to movies by the director Quentin Tarantino. Tarantino will take ideas from movies and things he likes and include them in his films. It’s a homage, if Abloh sees something he thinks is cool he’ll design around it.

Abloh has made amazing waves in the fashion industry during the year that he has been Artistic Director at Louis Vuitton. Hiring Abloh was a wise decision for the company, he could very well change the fashion industry as we know it and redefine menswear. The next fashion showcase for LV is this June at the Spring-Summer show, there is no telling of what he will unveil there.