Remembering Virgil Abloh: Beyond the Runaway

We have all come to know the name Virgil one way or another, whether it was through his beloved high fashion label Off-White, his influential relationship with his close friend and business partner Kanye West, his collaborations with Nike sportswear, or being the first fashion designer of African descent to be named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear. There is no denying Virgil’s incredible impact on street fashion and hip-hop culture that he left behind in such a short amount of time. Even in his tragic passing, Virgil’s legacy will shine ferociously through his bold art forms. But one of the main questions that need answers is how far did Virgil’s creative influence take him?

Born on September 30h, 1980, Virgil was raised in Rockford, Illinois with his Ghanaian parents who implemented art styles in him at a very early age. Virgil was heavily influenced by graffiti, skateboarding, soccer, music, and of course Michael Jordan. He began to DJ in high school and college where he took a big liking to it. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a degree in civil engineering, Virgil went on to work for a local t-shirt printing company where he was discovered by Don C who then went on to introduce him to Kanye West. The two would put their heads together to create amazing lines of work. In 2009 both Virgil and Kanye West interned at Fendi with hopes to rule the fashion industry together, one way or another. Virgil’s big break came when he and West attended Paris fashion week in 2009 where they attracted plenty of attention from different designer brands. Virgil would then go on to create a slew of projects to propel him into the fashion industry.

Virgil wasn’t always putting all of his efforts into fashion throughout his career. Kanye West made him creative director of his infamous albums “My Beautiful Dark Twisted, Fantasy”, “Watch the Throne”, and “Yeezus”, where he made various covers that represented the idea of the death of the CD. In 2012 Virgil would launch his most prolific brand known to date titled “Pyrek Vision” which later turned into Off-White due to legal issues with the name. This would become Virgil’s most influential body of work that opened the flood gates to many more opportunities that only the man himself could think of.  One of those dreams was launching an epic collaboration with Nike in 2017, which became one of the most pricey and hyped fashion trends in modern times. Another dream of Virgil’s would later come true in 2018 when Louis Vuitton named Virgil the newest creative director of menswear, which was a dream come true for both him and Kanye West. At this point it became evident that Virgil’s eye and mind for fashion were wanted in the mainstream fashion world.

Virgil Abloh, unfortunately, passed away on November 28, 2021, at the age of 41 due to complications with cardiac angiosarcoma cancer. The fashion guru left behind an iconic career for people to take note of, as he was probably the fastest growing African American designer the world has probably ever seen. His impact on fashion, music, and architecture was valued at a high level and left many popular artists and designers inspired. Virgil’s main goal was to break down barriers in the fashion world for minorities and to blur the line between races when it came to being creative. Virgil Abloh’s legacy lives on.

Courtesy Photo: Virgil Abloh