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What Virgil Abloh stands for the Italian Gen Z

A remembrance of the designer who changed streetwear

What Virgil Abloh stands for the Italian Gen Z A remembrance of the designer who changed streetwear

What happens when you unlock your phone, enter Instagram and see a post announcing the death of your favorite designer? I didn’t know until yesterday, but at the same time even now that hours have passed I feel that I didn’t fully understand. The legacy left by Virgil Abloh is precious: from his degree in architecture to the founding of Off-White and the latest collaborations with Mercedes-Benz or Braun, the American designer has made thousands of young people dream without gender or ethnicity distinction. I always thought that if he could do everything he did so well, then I could too: "coincidences - he said - are made of energies that meet and move towards to the same goal", they depended on us, not on chance, so I think it cannot be a coincidence that it was my turn to write about him so many times, even now, from the mobile, on the notes of the telephone, with that candid simplicity that he would certainly approve precisely because it’s different - who would ever write an article on the notes of the phone? Well, maybe just a Virgil Abloh fan.

Virgil Abloh is a common, shared good, a source of inspiration for a generation of creatives and artists, one of the most influential and visionary creative personalities of the past decade. One of his greatest virtues was the ability to instill trust and tranquility in anyone who followed him, his Instagram profile had a bit of the semblance of a moodboard, and it is sad to think that from today, probably, it will no longer be updated, while on Instagram many colleagues, friends and fans are remembering him, talking about his great humanity, his kind soul, how he was able to touch people deeply. He certainly did with many boys and girls, with his motivational captions and his overwhelming personality. He said that to recreate something, a pair of sneakers for example, it was enough to work on the 3% of that item to revolutionize it, even just moving a detail was essential to generate something new. It is often said that Virgil Abloh's luck has always been to partner with the right people at the right time, but it were those people who were lucky enough to partner with Virgil: Kanye West was enlightened by his work, one of his first partners from the beginning, who worked for him as a consultant and artistic director also on the covers of Watch The Throne and Yeezus.

The void left by the designer of Ghanaian origins is enormous. For Gen Z Virgil was a point of reference, a hero, because if a black engineer manages to become the creative director of one of the most important fashion houses in the world without ever having studied fashion, then for you, for us, everything becomes possible. Abloh played with the curiosity of teenagers, weaving ever more interesting plots and taking streetwear to a higher level, no longer just clothes, but transpositions of ideas. The cult generated in the community of streetwear fans in Italy around Virgil Abloh, who also decided to establish Off White headquarters in Milan, is unprecedented: from 2017 to today, everyone wants a Nike x Off-White, whether a sneakers or a sweatshirt from the capsule collection. There are dozens of users who publish sales posts every day with an item of the infinite collaboration between the Beaverton brand and Off-White or The Ten, synonymous with how Virgil has largely achieved his goal with collaborations, because if people are still hungry for something that has already been achieved, evidently it transcends the very concept of trend: it is a staple that remains in history.

Virgil was exactly like us, an ordinary boy, with a sensitivity necessarily above the average, with a reckless attention to everything around him. He lived in the United States in the 90s, skateboarding in the suburban reality of Chicago, grew up building on his own dreams and made it to the top with the people he met along the way, like Kanye West himself or his mates Been Trill, Matthew M. Williams and Heron Preston. He became a close friend and business partner of his idols: Nigo, Pharrell Williams, Hiroshi Fujiwara and many others, earning their respect for his enormous contribution to pop culture, in music as in fashion, in art as in any other field from him dealt with throughout his career. A protagonist of modern clubbing, who wore Hood by Air before Pyrex Vision, Supreme before Off-White.

A generation of young people who were no longer satisfied with the simple Air Force 1, found their guru in the American designer, a man capable of rethinking clothing, and revisiting it in a contemporary way. There is a phrase pronounced years ago by Virgil that I carry in my heart: "Supreme is my Louis Vuitton", it sounds almost pretentious, yet so sincere. It summarizes in a few words who Virgil Abloh was, someone who has never underestimated streetwear, who has indeed revolutionized it by making it the protagonist of the catwalks. A man who never denied himself the possibility of becoming who he was told he could never be, who broke down prejudices and hierarchies, created a precedent and made us dream again. From today, talking about Virgil Abloh will not be so different from talking about Christian Dior or Yves Saint Laurent.

To Virgil Abloh,

1980 - ∞