UPDATE: Virgil Abloh Responds to Criticism Regarding Off-White™'s Lack of Employee Diversity

Social media had some things to say about the brand’s recent staff party.

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UPDATE (May 3, 2019):  We’ve recently reached out to Virgil and the designer’s rep has provided the following quote from him:

My design team is diverse as the world is big. The video shown was an Off-White ™ dinner at the headquarters in the city of Milan, Italy. This party was to celebrate the hard work of the local Italian team.

Additionally, Off-White ™’s rep also provided the following:

“When questioned about diversity, Virgil Abloh takes pride in being African and American. His design team is diverse, and his practice has been built on making the art and design industry an inclusive community. Fellow designers like Samuel Ross, Heron Preston, No Vacancy Inn – by Tremaine Emory and Acyde Odunlami, Everard Best, Photographer Fabien Montique, amongst many others have been given a platform via Off-White ™. These are just a few of the many global voices and people sitting at the table and helping evolve the brand. Off-White ™ is a black founded and owned business.”

“He wishes to use this moment of being questioned to be a moment of reflection within the industry to showcase the talents behind their design entities and push to have a design community that represents the outside world.”

Virgil Abloh has also responded to the diversity criticism by adding photos of his friends, members of his team and other creatives he’s worked with to prove how diverse Off-White ™ truly is. Additionally, Abloh has also teased his upcoming Off-White x Nike campaign starring South African middle-distance runner and 2016 Olympic gold medalist Caster Semenya.


As Fashionista notes, Virgil Abloh is once again in hot water. After defending his Michael Jackson designs for Louis Vuitton, the designer has again stirred up controversy, this time for a series of Instagram Stories taken at an Off-White™ event in Milan.

Abloh’s Instagram posts showed various members of Off-White™‘s Italian design team. Though Abloh was celebrating the talent of his staff — describing the art directors as a “crazy crazy talented crew of kids” — social media users were quick to point out the lack of employee diversity at Off-White™. Despite a bevy of shots showing a room packed with people, critics immediately singled out the lack of black staff members.

Widespread denunciation is rather uncommon for the Off-White™ CEO, as Abloh’s work at Louis Vuitton has received accolades for its inclusive influences and progressive campaign imagery. Though the designer has faced dismissive outcries before, flak for lacking diversity is unusual for Abloh.

The disparagement has even spread to Off-White™’s Instagram, with users commenting on unrelated posts calling out the racially homogenous staff.

A rep for Off-White™’s PR declined to officially comment, asserting that Abloh’s Stories showed a mere fraction of the 136 design team members. Check out the images that Abloh took via the Tweets and Twitter reactions below. Off-White™’s management company, Davide De Giglio’s New Guards Group, is most likely responsible for the brand’s hires — it has not released a statement.

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