On Sunday, November 28th, 2021; Virgil Abloh passed away after fighting a 2-year battle against a rare form of cancer.¬†
Our utmost and deepest condolences go to his friends and family, to his wife and kids, and to the industry as a whole. We have truly lost one of the greatest and most unforgettable minds of our community. And so, it is in these sad and unexpected circumstances that we must honor Virgil by keeping his memory alive.¬†
We are here to relive all of his most celebrated moments and accomplishments. All the good that he has brought into people‚Äôs lives. All the hard work, dedication, and passion he put into his art. Who is Virgil Abloh? He is ‚ÄúFOREVER‚ÄĚ.
A TIMELINE OF VIRGIL ABLOH
On September 30, 1980; Virgil Abloh was born in Rockford, Illinois to Ghanian immigrant parents. His father, Nee Abloh,¬† was the manager of a paint company, and his mother, Eunice Abloh, worked as a seamstress. His mother was the one who taught him the basics of clothing design.¬†
In 2002, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he graduated with a Bachelor‚Äôs in Civil Engineering. Rumor has it that he skipped his final evaluation to meet with Kanye West‚Äôs then-manager.
Virgil Abloh went on to complete his master‚Äôs degree in Architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. During this time, Virgil saw a building under construction by Rem Koolhaas that sparked his love for fashion. He also learned about the curriculum of Mies van der Rohe that combines art, craft, and design.
Him and Kanye start working at Fendi‚Äôs 6-month internship as interns – with a salary of $500 a month. Later that same year, they both attended the Paris Fashion Week. Here‚Äôs what he had to say about it in an interview with W Magazine:
“We were a generation that was interested in fashion and wasn’t supposed to be there. We saw this as our chance to participate and make current culture. In a lot of ways, it felt like we were bringing more excitement than the industry was.”
That same year he married his high school sweetheart, Shannon Sundberg.
Kanye West appointed Virgil Abloh as creative director at DONDA – Ye‚Äôs creative agency. During this time he directed the album art for Jay-Z’s album ‚ÄúWatch the Throne‚ÄĚ
Later in 2012, Abloh released Pyrex Vision – his first line of luxury streetwear. It was absolute pure genius. Virgil took deadstock Ralph Lauren shirts and screen printed his company‚Äôs name on it with the number 23. He sold them for $550 apiece. That same year, he also launched ‚ÄúBeen Trill‚ÄĚ – a DJ collective with Heron Preston and Matthew Williams.
Next, in 2013, Virgil Abloh closed Pyrex Vision and opened the legendary Off-White – the Milan-based streetwear brand. He said, “The gray area between black and white is the color Off-White”. The brand combines art, music, and travel all at the same time. A few years later Louis Vuitton became the parent investor of the Off-White company.
In 2015, Virgil‚Äôs Off-White was on the rise – showing in Paris and penetrating global markets! Virgil even got nominated for the LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize.
Moreover, in 2016, Virgil created his first concept store in Tokyo. Visitors could come and take free Off-White branded cups from the store‚Äôs watercooler. It‚Äôs safe to say that they probably sold them on the aftermarket.
So, the year 2017 might just have been one of Virgil‚Äôs most monumental years ever! Not only did he announce his collaborative exhibition with Takashi Murakami, but he also opened his first NY store! Also, he collaborated with Warby Parker and Jimmy Choo. But, the thing that takes the cake was his Nike x Off-White collaboration.¬†
Virgil Abloh and Nike worked on ‚ÄúThe Ten‚ÄĚ sneaker collection – one of the most limited collections of all time! It was the most epic release of a lifetime – websites crashed, stores queued for days, and the aftermarket EXPLODED! Resale was up to 500% in price premium. Another GENIUS Virgil venture.¬†
Also, we can‚Äôt forget about his legendary lecture on working and designing at Harvard School of Design. All of which you can read about in his book ‚ÄúInsert Complicated Title Here‚ÄĚ.
The more Off-White grew, the more obvious Virgil‚Äôs potential became. The major luxury fashion houses of the world wanted to collaborate with hi,. But, in the end, he found his calling with Louis Vuitton. He played with the rules and changed the entire industry for everyone! LV named Abloh artistic director of menswear – a truly historical appointment. He was the first African-American menswear designer in Louis Vuitton‚Äôs history.¬†
Also, that same year, Time‚Äôs listed him as one of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. This comes to no one‚Äôs surprise after learning so much about the man with many talents.
In 2019, the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago displayed some of Virgil Abloh‚Äôs past work called ‚ÄúFigures of Speech‚ÄĚ. Things like his architectural constructions to his Nike designs. He also became part of the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA).¬†
And, he also got a nomination for a CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year for his Off-White work. Furthermore, we can‚Äôt go on without mentioning his collaboration with IKEA – combinations of street art, contemporary art, and IKEA designs.
Another great accomplishment that year would be his collaboration with the Louvre on the Leonardo Da Vinci capsule. It featured Da Vinci‚Äôs work on a line of T-shirts and hoodies. It completely cemented Virgil‚Äôs love and fascination with Da Vinci and his disciplines.¬†
Moving on to the year of the pandemic – 2020. This year Virgil raised more than 1 MILLION dollars for scholarship programs aimed at Black fashion students. He also debuted his very own mentorship program called ‚ÄúFree Game‚ÄĚ which gives step-by-step tips on starting your own brand.
It was also the year of his final collaboration with Mercedes Benz on 2020‚Äôs G-Class and 2021‚Äôs MAYBACH. This is what Virgil had to say on the collaboration:
‚ÄúWith industries like car design, you often get a feeling there‚Äôs nothing human there, but with Wagener‚Äôs IG feed I could follow different projects. In fashion, I aim to do that too, to demystify the operation of a fashion house: that big daunting building with no way to get in! Everyone knows where the door to ‚Äėbuy‚Äô is but not the people behind the brand.”
After knowing that Virgil Abloh had been private fighting his own wars, is truly in awe of his strength. Despite everything he was going through, he kept going forward. So much so that he went on to release ‚ÄúThe 50‚ÄĚ Dunk collection. Literally features 50 new Nike Dunk x Off White sneakers.¬†
Virgil Abloh was a fiercely devoted father, husband, and son. He was and will always be one of the greatest designers in the world! But, his memory will forever live on through his wife, his children, and all those who loved him.