Fashion

Virgil Abloh: Street Spirit

When most people hit their 30’s, music and fashion seem to take a backseat. Suddenly, you find yourself wearing the same clothes and listening to the same tunes you did 10 years earlier. Progression seems to slow down: did fashion and music stop being cool or is it me?

I experienced this very thing. Aside from a few albums here and there, guitar music just wasn’t having the impact on me it once had and I was stuck listening to the same Hip Hop I had been listening to for the last 10 years. There was no progression. Music in general wasn’t doing it for me and perhaps a by-product of that was that I just wasn’t feeling the fashion scene as I once was.

In mid-2017, I joined Instagram and it was there I first came across the name Virgil Abloh. I had seen a remake of a collection of classic sneakers known simply as ‘The Ten’. I was instantly captured! And this changed everything, for me…

Pictured below, ‘The Ten’ by Virgil Abloh

The remake of classic designs was simple but very effective. Abloh has degrees in engineering and architecture and I see this come across in many of his creations. Staying true to the classic structure of the original designs adding an intentional “in process” look, making them seem like samples. The signature cable tie just sets them off. Genius, in my opinion.

Abloh’s career has been incredible, to say the least. After graduating from Illinois Institute of Technology, he decided then to take and internship at Milan based fashion label, Fendi, in 2009. There, he met the then little known, Kanye West.

Abloh and West hit it off immediately and a series of collaborations would follow. In 2011, Abloh designed the artwork for the hugely successful Jay Z album, Watch the Throne, produced by Kanye West.

A year later, Abloh launched Pyrex Vision, his first foray into high fashion, with a small collection of Champion tees, hoodies, basketball shorts, socks and flannel shirts, plastered in collegiate lettering and Renaissance artwork. Considering he was using low-cost blanks, Abloh charged astronomical prices, and Pyrex Vision’s flannel shirting became infamous when it later emerged (via Highsnobiety’s Jian DeLeon) that Virgil was just slapping his logo onto old Ralph Lauren shirts and charging $550 for the pleasure.  Pyrex Vision would close a year later with Abloh explaining that this was an “artistic experiment”.

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In 2013, he launched his second business venture known as Off-White. This was another high-end streetwear brand that would propel Abloh into the fashion limelight and see him selected as a finalist for the coveted LVMH award, following the launch of his Women’s Wear line at Paris Fashion Week in 2014. He would later launch the company’s furniture arm of the business, Grey Area, through a concept store in Tokyo. A sign of things to come…

Abloh’s success was being felt across the design world and big names were taking notice! 2017 saw the release of the now legendary ‘The Ten’. Sneaker enthusiasts the world over entered raffles on every site they could (including me). Of course, they sold out within minutes and would be found on EBay within weeks for up to 20 times their RRP.

The collaborations kept coming as Abloh lent his talent and notoriety to work with conceptual artist, Jenny Holzer on pieces showing the value of immigration to the world. The pair teamed up again to design a line of t-shirts for the charity Planned Parenthood and their ‘Women’s March on Washington’. 2017 continued with the announcement of a future collaboration furniture giant IKEA, due for release in 2019.

In March 2018, Virgil Abloh was named Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready line. Not only is Abloh the first person of African descent to be named as Artistic Director for Fashion House Louis Vuitton, but he is one of very few black designers at the helm of any French Fashion Labels.

For me, seeing Virgil Abloh walk out at the end of his first show for Louis Vuitton and embrace his comrade, Kanye West, felt like a piece of history.

 

Virgil Abloh’s celebrates where he comes from. He uses his education to craft out pieces that catch the eye, particularly the now legendary industrial belts. His ability to create a logo and brand awareness has been a stroke of genius in the use of the diagonal line motif.  He calls the streetwear revolution an “Art Movement”. I agree. I see creativity in countless accounts throughout Instagram; spanning the age ranges of 16-40. This has lit a fire within me to join in on the movement. This is the spirit of the streets…

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