Louis Vuitton’s artistic director and founder of OFF-White, Virgil Abloh, passed away on Sunday due to a rare form of cancer. The fashion innovator created a new concept of streetwear: His unique arrow design and use of singular words on clothing set his brand apart from other designers. Although his death was shocking to many, his supporters and fashion industry professionals reflect and appreciate the influence Abloh had on them.
CEO and founder of IEMBE Travis Terry said Abloh was a direct inspiration for his brand. Terry says it can be seen instantly in his brand because of the creativity of the IEMBE designs and the silhouettes of his popular handbag.
“Virgil was all about creativity. He used that creativeness to inspire others as he was inspired by the culture and current trends around us. His edge with patterns and out-of-the-box pieces is what made [him] unique,” Terry said. “That is the direction I will implement within my brand and hopefully be just as great as him one day.”
Abloh was connected to his community and consistently provided advice to the next generation of fashion. However, his creativity was not always understood by everyone.
“He was magical [and] some didn’t get it. Creatives live in the future and that’s what Virgil has done. He saw the trends and the direction of fashion and always was the first to try new things,” Terry said.
Fashion guru Kayla Guiste said Abloh revolutionized fashion in a way that allowed streetwear to be viewed as luxury.
“Before Virgil Abloh, streetwear fashion wasn’t necessarily viewed as pieces that can stand the test of time. It was known as simply hoodies, T-shirts, sneakers, and sweats. However, Virgil grew and evolved as a designer and creative being; [he] introduced something different to the culture,” said Guiste. “From Been Trill to Pyrex Vision to OFF-White then Louis Vuitton, Virgil was the embodiment of creative evolution and it certainly taught me a lot.”
Abloh has a long list of collaborations including Nike, Louis Vuitton, IKEA, and recently, Mercedes Benz. When his exclusive collaborations with Nike are released, the items sell out within seconds. The majority of his sneaker releases with Nike end up on resell websites like Stock X for double the retail price.
Since his death, sneakers like the Jordan 1 Retro Off-White Chicago’s are seen priced at as much as $13.8 million. Although it’s highly unlikely for the shoes to sell for that amount, the culture of reselling can prevent everyone from having Abloh’s work.
As an employee of a popular resale company, Brooklin Phelps said he was able to see it first hand.
“By the time we shut our doors [the day of his passing] we had sold more than 60 of the pieces he’d designed for LVMH and his own brand, Off-White. It was insane to watch,” Phelps said.
Phelps questions if buyers are actually lovers of Abloh’s work or just buying it to be a “hype beast.”
“For the most part, I find it annoying only because it’s ruining the culture of fashion. The people that really desire these pieces and want to wear them can’t because some rich kid with no identity wants to feel cool and make a little money at the same time,” Phelps said.
Off-White items can be found on the official and other department stores’ websites for regular prices. According to Gusite, to know good fashion is to own a piece of Abloh’s work.
“Having a piece from Virgil is a status symbol. His pieces expressed individuality and the constant evolution of personal style,” said Guiste.
Virgil enthusiast Wayne Fuller, had similar thoughts about Abloh’s work being a fashion staple. He believes that streetwear and the fashion industry as a whole will continue to keep his presence alive because the industry professionals will continue to use Abloh’s creative tactics and uniqueness to push fashion-forward.
“Moving forward I see the limits of fashion being pushed on every front. Creators will strive to be more ambitious than ever before with color palettes, fabrics, stylization/ coordination, and more,” said Fuller.