Designer Virgil Abloh is such a ubiquitous force in streetwear and luxury that other industries can no longer ignore his all-reaching influence. In 2020, the founder of fashion label Off-White™ and the creative director of mens at Louis Vuitton, once again proved why he’s on top of the collaboration food-chain — the biggest global brands looked to his creative vision to tap into a whole new market of cool consumers.
One of the biggest partnerships the 40-year-old creative was involved with this year was his work with Mercedes-Benz. The famed luxury automaker gave Abloh free rein to design its classic G-Class model for the car’s 40th anniversary in 2019. Titled “Project Geländewagen,” Abloh veered away from luxury’s often flawless aesthetic and instead created a raw and natural interpretation of the car — the special edition ride was designed in white and partially sanded. The outside mirror and bumper bar were stripped away and the body widened and lowered. To enhance and complete the conceptual look, tires and spare wheel were also exaggerated in size.
For his ongoing work with Louis Vuitton, things got larger in scale when the National Basketball Association tapped Abloh and the luxury house for a collaboration. What resulted was a full-on capsule of clothes and accessories featuring LV’s signature upscale style and the NBA’s logo. Suits, tees, trousers, bags, sunglasses and footwear were included in the range with some displaying the league’s insignia and LV’s monogram together. Some items featured a basketball silhouette artwork while others, like the bags were detailed with nets. Finally, a large trunk with LV’s monogram was the highlight of the collective as a product shot revealed white high-top sneakers inside.
Abloh also connected with the godfather of streetwear, NIGO for the NIGO x Virgil Abloh LV² capsule — the range consisted of luxe denim pieces, suiting, bags, accessories and scarves that was in line with both NIGO’s Japanese streetwear aesthetic and Abloh’s ultra-refined vision for Louis Vuitton mens.
Virgil’s collabs in 2020 were too many to keep up with but noteworthy partnerships in footwear involved sportswear labels Nike and Jordan Brand. A black Off-White™ x Air Jordan 5 made noise early on in January which was also accompanied with branded athletic apparel. A few months later, an Off-White™ x Air Jordan 4 in “Sail” for womens released. Moving along the year, new iterations of the Off-White™ x Nike Air Rubber Dunk surfaced as well as fresh colorways of the Off-White™ x Nike Air Zoom Tempo NEXT%, a women’s track shoe. Fittingly, to bring the Jordan 5 madness he started in the year full circle, Abloh also dropped the Off-White™ x Air Jordan 5 in "Sail" with accompanying wearables once again.