Virgil Abloh Defined Hype for an Entire Generation

The extent of the late designer’s impact will be apparent in the industry that he reshaped.

Fashion 
36,011 Hypes 29 Comments

In 2018, shortly after Virgil Abloh’s debut collection as artistic director for menswear at Louis Vuitton, the designer posted an image of himself to Instagram, standing on the rainbow-colored runway that he had commissioned as a nod to The Wizard of Oz. The caption beneath the post read, simply, “you can do it too…”.

As a gesture, it perfectly encapsulated the ethos that defined Abloh, who has died at 41 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He was, fundamentally, a designer who wanted to create space for those around him, and to uplift Black creatives within a fashion industry that too often excluded and overlooked them, even as it lifted from their culture.

Virgil Abloh death obituary off white been trill pyrex vision

Off-White™, Fall/Winter 2019.Ben Awin/Hypebeast

In the hours since his death was announced, Instagram has been flooded by figures from across fashion, art, and music, sharing their stories of Abloh’s generosity. He was an unfailingly polite, encouraging, and collaborative figure, who was beloved by the most revered names within the luxury industry, but would gladly share his personal details with any aspiring kid who’d ask for help.

And he became a beacon, too, for an entire generation of designers, who saw in him the possibility to rewrite the established rules of the fashion industry: among them Samuel Ross, Salehe Bembury, and his former collaborators Heron Preston and Matthew M Williams.

Virgil Abloh death obituary off white been trill pyrex vision

Louis Vuitton, Fall/Winter 2020.Alessandro Lucioni/Gorunway.com

Off-White™ — the brand he founded in 2012, and which emerged from the ideas he explored in his earlier projects, Been Trill and PYREX VISION — is a truly extraordinary success story. In less than a decade, it has become one of the most consistently successful and high-selling contemporary luxury brands in the world, regularly featuring among the top sellers for most retailers, and far eclipsing many of the more established heritage houses.

But given the behemoth status of the brand now, it’s easy to forget the sniffiness and scepticism with which it was met when it first appeared on the market. Buyers and editors alike dismissed it as ‘just another hoodie brand’, even as queues of kids formed down the street to try and get hold of each of its drops. Luxury stores, who at first had only deigned to work with him, soon became desperate for exclusives from the brand when the scale of its commercial significance became apparent.

Virgil Abloh death obituary off white been trill pyrex vision

PYREX VISION, Spring/Summer 2013.Pyrex Vision

It was widely agreed among those behind-the-scenes at stores that Abloh could sell anything. And throughout his career, he put that to the test, creating co-branded versions of everything from alarm clocks to luxury cars. Off-White™’s original logo, a four-way arrow that was allegedly inspired by the work of a 1960’s advertising firm, became an instantly-identifiable signifier for swathes of young consumers, as potent as Chanel’s interlocking C’s, or the Louis Vuitton monogram that Abloh would go on to redefine.

He was freewheeling in his referencing and reworkings of the designers and artists he admired — among them Martin Margiela, Raf Simons, and Rem Koolhaas. Though his cherry-picking was often to the chagrin of the designers themselves, he spoke openly about his belief in reworking, remixing and reimagining the things he loved. Indeed, quotation marks became a recurrent symbol in his work, which celebrated and spotlighted the culture that he loved. His collections, projects, and releases were best viewed as a tribute to his education.

Perhaps above all, Abloh was a connector: between ‘streetwear’ (a term he hated) and luxury fashion, between the OG hypebeast crowd and a younger generation, and between Black creators and the industries they wanted to enter into.

He represented something bigger than himself, or his body of work. And he forever changed the industry he was a part of.

Read Full Article

What to Read Next

Virgil Was Here: Reflecting on What Would Have Been Abloh’s 42nd Birthday
Fashion 

Virgil Was Here: Reflecting on What Would Have Been Abloh’s 42nd Birthday

Hypebeast takes a look back at the late designer’s groundbreaking legacy.

Louis Vuitton Releases Virgil Abloh's Dove Belt
Fashion

Louis Vuitton Releases Virgil Abloh's Dove Belt

Reimaging the House’s iconic “LV” motif.

Louis Vuitton's Paint Can Bag Arrives in Virgil Abloh's Signature Purple Palette
Fashion

Louis Vuitton's Paint Can Bag Arrives in Virgil Abloh's Signature Purple Palette

Initially debuted at Abloh’s posthumous FW22 runway show.


Dover Street Market Ginza To Sell Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton Archive
Fashion

Dover Street Market Ginza To Sell Virgil Abloh's Louis Vuitton Archive

A selection of pieces from Abloh’s tenure at the French luxury fashion house.

Goodhood Partners With Dr. Martens to Reinvent the 6-Eye 101 Silhouette
Footwear

Goodhood Partners With Dr. Martens to Reinvent the 6-Eye 101 Silhouette

Featuring a Vintage Leather upper and screen-printed details.

Haroshi and Nexus VII Release Descente ALLTERRAIN Jackets Made With Skateboard Powder
Fashion

Haroshi and Nexus VII Release Descente ALLTERRAIN Jackets Made With Skateboard Powder

Limited to 80 pieces.

Kanye West's adidas YEEZY QNTM "Amber Tint" Is Officially Releasing Next Month
Footwear

Kanye West's adidas YEEZY QNTM "Amber Tint" Is Officially Releasing Next Month

In sizes for all the family.

'Valorant' NA Esports Celebrates Teams Going to Champions With Prædari Collection
Gaming

'Valorant' NA Esports Celebrates Teams Going to Champions With Prædari Collection

Prepared by GOOD ART HLYWD and presented to Sentinels, Envy and Cloud9.

Closer at the Nike SB Dunk High in “Medium Grey”
Footwear

Closer at the Nike SB Dunk High in “Medium Grey”

A understated pair with pops of pink.


CASETiFY Teases Upcoming 'Squid Game' Collection
Design

CASETiFY Teases Upcoming 'Squid Game' Collection

Choose from the players, guards, boss, and even the Younghee doll.

New Balance Tokyo Design Studio Revisits the TDS 574 Silhouette
Footwear

New Balance Tokyo Design Studio Revisits the TDS 574 Silhouette

Dressing the formal-inspired footwear in a black colorway.

A Kind of Guise Rounds Out FW21 With Stunning Georgia Editorial
Fashion

A Kind of Guise Rounds Out FW21 With Stunning Georgia Editorial

Capturing the country’s culture, landscapes, cuisine and friendly locals.

All the Music Videos on NBA YoungBoy's YouTube Channel Have Been Deleted
Music

All the Music Videos on NBA YoungBoy's YouTube Channel Have Been Deleted

The channel supposedly had over nine billion views combined.

Louis Vuitton Dedicates SS22 Presentation to Virgil Abloh
Fashion

Louis Vuitton Dedicates SS22 Presentation to Virgil Abloh

Taking place on November 30 in Miami.

More ▾
 
Subscribe to our Newsletter

Gain access to exclusive interviews with industry creatives, think pieces, trend forecasts, guides and more.

By subscribing, you agree to our Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

Looks like you’re using an ad-blocker

We charge advertisers instead of our readers. Support us by whitelisting our site.

Whitelist Us

How to Whitelist Us

screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Under “Pause on this site” click “Always”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlock Plus icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Block ads on – This website” switch off the toggle to turn it from blue to gray.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the AdBlocker Ultimate icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Switch off the toggle to turn it from “Enabled on this site” to “Disabled on this site”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the Ghostery icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the “Ad-Blocking” button at the bottom. It will turn gray and the text above will go from “ON” to “OFF”.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the UBlock Origin icon in the browser extension area in the upper right-hand corner.
  2. Click on the large blue power icon at the top.
  3. When it turns gray, click the refresh icon that has appeared next to it or click the button below to continue.
screenshot
  1. Click the icon of the ad-blocker extension installed on your browser.You’ll usually find this icon in the upper right-hand corner of your screen. You may have more than one ad-blocker installed.
  2. Follow the instructions for disabling the ad blocker on the site you’re viewing.You may have to select a menu option or click a button.
  3. Refresh the page or click the button below to continue.