virgil abloh
Virgil Abloh and Gigi Hadid greet the audience on the runway after the Off-White Menswear Spring Summer 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 19, 2019 in Paris, France. (Photo by Dominique Charriau/WireImage)

Yesterday the world said a sorrowful farewell to the multifaceted designer that has left an immeasurable imprint on the fashion industry, Virgil Abloh. From interning at Fendi to launching game-changing label Off-White, and becoming the first Black designer to helm Louis Vuitton, his rise is undoubtedly summed up by his revolutionary approach to the fashion world during the 2010s. Abloh’s journey and ideas weren’t met without controversy at times. Yet, within only a decade, the skilled designer’s perseverance in creating a more dynamic, inclusive, and sustainable industry for the future is evident in the influence of his work on other designers and the love tributes from fans, friends, and family.

Aside from his forward-thinking collections that changed the narrative of streetwear, Virgil Abloh’s greatest moments arguably were off the runway—paving the way for numerous emerging creative talents and opening doors to new opportunities. For example, in 2018, Abloh extended an invite to his highly anticipated Louis Vuitton debut to 3,000 fashion students who otherwise never would have had the chance to experience a show in person. He has also supported various migrant and marginalized groups, including skateboarders and surfers in his parents’ home country of Ghana. Abloh also saw it equally as important to give back to his own community by building parks across Chicago and establishing a scholarship fund.

Virgil’s everlasting impact on the industry lives on in the positive change he brought and the innumerable hearts of those around him that he has touched. Ahead, GRAZIA looks back at some of Virgil Abloh’s most career-defining moments in recognition of his impact and legacy.

BEEN TRILL

virgil abloh
Virgil Abloh and one of BEEN TRILL’s co-founder’s Heron Preston (Photo by Bertrand Rindoff Petroff/Getty Images)

Abloh worked with industry pals Matthew Williams, Heron Preston, Justin Saunders, and YWP to create an art collective and DJ squad, BEEN TRILL. The group garnered a massive following on Tumblr and eventually decided to release merch that turned into a streetwear label that they sold to PacSun in 2015.

Pyrex

virgil abloh
Photo from the Pyrex lookbook

For his first independent line, Pyrex Vision launched in 2012, Abloh purchased deadstock Ralph Lauren flannel shirts for $40 each, and screen printed them with the word Pyrex and the number 23, an homage to his childhood hero, Michael Jordan. The shirts sold for $550 each and were a hit, truly showing Abloh understood the “hype”.

First Off-White Collection

virgil abloh
American designer Virgil Abloh acknowledges the audience at the end of Off-White during the men’s Spring/Summer 2020 collection fashion show on June 19, 2019 in Paris. (Photo by Anne-Christine POUJOULAT / AFP) (Photo credit should read ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

When Abloh rebranded Pyrex Vision to Off-White in 2014, the label became a tour de force in defining the meaning of streetwear. He created an intersection between high fashion and streetwear that was never done before but is now the precedent of most streetwear labels.

Off-White x Nike Partnership

virgil abloh
Virgil Abloh x Nike’s first collaboration, “The Tens”

One of Off-White’s most notable and ongoing partnerships is with sportswear powerhouse, Nike. The collaboration marked a change in how sportswear is looked at from a luxury point of view. For his first collaboration in 2017, Nike enlisted ABloh to reimagine ten of their most iconic sneakers — each adorned his signature safety tag around the laces. Without surprise, the sneakers sold out in mere minutes and you can only guess where the resell value sits at.

First Louis Vuitton Collection

virgil abloh
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 21: A model walks the runway during the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring/Summer 2019 fashion show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 21, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Victor VIRGILE/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)
Abloh heralded in a new era for the luxury maison that caught the fashion set by surprise when he debuted his first Louis Vuitton collection in 2018. He brought a more diverse and colorful Louis Vuitton to the forefront that was well received and evident by the front row filled with close friends Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West, Naomi Campbell, Rihanna, Gigi, and Bella Hadid.

Hailey Bieber’s Wedding Gown

virgil abloh
Virgil Abloh with Hailey Bieber on her wedding day

Abloh’s charisma and genuine likeability are evident in his supportive group of friends and family. The designer was enlisted to create pal, Hailey Bieber’s gown for her wedding to Justin Bieber. The lace dress was traditional yet also featured unconventional elements staying true to Abloh’s DNA including the iconic veil that read out “Till Death Do Us Part”.

Off-White x Mercedes-benz

Virgil Abloh Off-White x Mercedes Collab
Off-White x Mercedes Collaboration

At the time the collaboration came as something very misunderstood. Who was this for? many asked. Now only a year later Mercedes has partnered with numerous fashion brands as well as brands working with other car manufacturers truly proving Abloh was a designer ahead of his time.

Virgil Abloh™ Post-Modern Scholarship Fund

Launched in 2020, the Post-Modern scholarship fund was Abloh’s answer to giving back to his community that he was a product of. At the end of 2020, Abloh announced that the fund had raised one million to support Black fashion students in partnership with the Fashion Scholarship Fund (FSF). “I’ve always been passionate about giving the next generation of students the same foundation for success that was given to me,” Abloh mentioned in a statement.

thoughts?