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5 ways Virgil Abloh has changed the fashion industry

From collabo to its cultural weight, because we are talking about a unique designer in the history of fashion

5 ways Virgil Abloh has changed the fashion industry From collabo to its cultural weight, because we are talking about a unique designer in the history of fashion

It is difficult to define Virgil Abloh's impact on the fashion world. From his beginnings with Pyrex Vision to his ultimate consecration with Louis Vuitton, Abloh's work is among those that will remain forever, representing an example for entire generations of young designers born and raised under the influence of Louis Vuitton's artistic director. But encapsulating the importance of Virgil Abloh's work is difficult, almost impossible, for a man who in a single career has been able to single-handedly represent an entire movement, a cultural symbol whose value must not and will not be overlooked. If we are here today, if we do this work, if we talk about these topics, it is also thanks to Virgil Abloh, the modern designer par excellence, able to redefine what is today streetwear, but also the fashion industry in its entirety, a man whose work carried an enormous weight on his shoulders, carrying it forward until the end, in the absolute silence with which he faced the most difficult phase of his life.

To pay tribute to his work, the editorial staff of nss magazine has collected the five ways in which Virgil Abloh has forever changed the world of fashion, and maybe even us.


Nike and Converse are just the first two names that come to mind when we associate the name of Virgil Abloh to the world of collabo. Streetwear par excellence, with the work of Abloh has known a new turning point, becoming the way in which fashion dialogued with worlds only apparently distant. What remains truly unique, however, is the way in which everything made sense, in which each collaboration managed to add something to the dialogue, opening up paths capable of giving others the opportunity to take the same path. We can mention "The 10" of course, but it would be impossible to forget the collabo with IKEA, or the more recent ones with Mercedes-Benz and Braun. Each one has contributed not only to tell us something more about the figure of Abloh, but has lit a light bulb in the minds of many other creatives who have taken his example.

The bridge between streetwear and luxury

First with Pyrex Vision and then with Off-White™, Virgil Abloh has traced the path for the entry of streetwear into the world of luxury fashion, becoming the forerunner for a generation of designers who have seen in him a symbol. His arrival at Louis Vuitton represented a turning point for an entire world, which went from being a simple movement to being able to contaminate the catwalks of Fashion Weeks. That's why June 21, 2018, the date of Abloh's first show as menswear artistic director of Louis Vuitton, will remain in fashion history as the turning point of an entire movement. From the emotional embrace with Kanye West to the presence of Kid Cudi on the catwalk, the show in the Palais-Royale gardens kicked off an era of contaminations in which Abloh progressively transformed the idea of luxury, making Louis Vuitton a unique creature that will bear his mark for a long time.

The prototype of the modern designer

One of the most famous episodes linked to Virgil Abloh's career is the internship at Fendi in the company of Kanye West with whom the two made their entrance into the world of fashion. A world that Abloh got to know almost by chance during his studies as an architect at the Illinois Institute of Technology, coming into contact with the work of Rem Koolhaas, a Dutch architect who had collaborated with Prada. Abloh's training is certainly one of the many aspects that have contributed to his uniqueness, making him the prototype of the modern designer: multidisciplinary, open to contamination and far from the idea of "classical training" to which we had been accustomed for years. Abloh was a designer, but he was also an architect, a musician and an all-round artist. Maybe it was for this reason that Virgil's approach to his work has always been different from the others, resembling in some ways that of a master ready to share his work with his students. His uniqueness also lived on his approach to everyday work, "itinerant" as Abloh himself recounted in an interview with the New York Times in which he described Off-White™ as the first luxury brand built from social media. Without a desk, Abloh has decentralized the idea of creative direction, helping to shape a new idea of creative so much so that he earned a prominent place at the table of LVMH after the group had acquired 60% of Off-White™ last July.


Just last year, Virgil Abloh launched "Free Game", a mentoring program designed to help young designers create their own brands through the experience of Abloh himself, once again solidifying the relationship the designer had with future generations and his work. In a world of philanthropy for its own sake, Virgil Abloh was one of the few to take the lead in training the creatives of the future, creating platforms and programs to open doors and break down barriers by extending a hand to young designers. If fashion has always been criticized for its closed and elitist nature, in all his work Virgil Abloh has always built bridges, trying to share his heritage and making us ask "Wouldn't it be nice if more people were like Virgil Abloh?".

Multiculturalism in fashion

If we wanted to point out the most shining example of Virgil Abloh's work with Louis Vuitton the choice would fall without too many on the Men's Fall-Winter 2021, the highest point of the American designer's work in which each layer told all the multiculturalism of Abloh in fashion. It's useless to get around it, Virgil Abloh was the first black designer in a major fashion house, a choice to break with the past in a world that has never hidden its difficulty in accepting such a change. Abloh's fashion was also this, skateboard and rap brought to the catwalk in a form even more different than the one created by Kanye West, in an interweaving of politics and culture that has made possible what before seemed impossible. In the behind-the-scenes footage of FW21 shot by Loic Prigent (you can find it here and it's really worth watching) it's not uncommon to hear the models talk about that moment as a key moment in their careers and lives, telling that show as "a necessary connection point". So, to conclude this excursus on Virgil Abloh's legacy, we could sum up his work and career as "necessary".