A Reflection of Virgil Abloh’s Life and Influence

Courtesy of Jonathan P.Ellgen | FlickrVirgil Abloh, creative director for luxury fashion brand Louis Vuitton and creator of "Off-White" died Nov. 28.

While streetwear fashion has become oversaturated with artists and designers, one man seemed to uphold his relevance through the years. After dozens of collaborations, the creation of his own brand and even entire art exhibits — Virgil Abloh seemed to have had his influence in every aspect of art and design.  

On Nov. 28 the world lost creative icon Abloh, 41, from a private two year battle with cancer. He was most well known in the streetwear realm for his brand, Off-White, his collaborations with Nike and being the first black men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton. 

Abloh’s creative work didn’t end with clothing. He designed many album covers for the likes of Kanye West, ASAP Rocky, Pop Smoke and others. In 2019, Alboh further expanded his reach with his exhibit “Figures of Speech” that was displayed in Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art (220 E. Chicago Ave).

For me, and many others across the world, Abloh was a beacon of inspiration. His work in a wide range of art forms reflected how hard work and belief in one’s own creative ability can offer success.

WSJ podcasts said, “Virgil Abloh was probably the designer that was best at translating street fashion into high fashion,” when discussing Ablohs’s impact on the industry after his passing. 

Virgil Abloh’s work with Nike will be one his most defining achievements. His work with his collection of shoes, dubbed “The Ten,” spurred a whirlwind of hype and anticipation. Each Nike shoe model received his signature touch sporting a deconstructed/prototype look. 

The most notable of these sneakers were the Chicago Jordan 1’s — a bold take at the time on the classic Jordan model, a shoe beloved by many. I’m personally not a fan of the sneaker’s asthetic or it’s price on the secondary market (reaching over ten thousand dollars after Abloh’s death), but It’s still a shoe that brings back a sense of nostalgia.

I think that’s what is most difficult about Abloh’s passing — it’s as though a childhood hero is lost. I may not have recognized him as such before, but now that his presence is gone it’s made me appreciate not only what he created but all also all the work he did to achieve what he did. 

From creating his own label, to being a graphic designer and a DJ, he was a man that truly filled his life with what he loved doing, breaking boundaries and shaking up the status quo all the while. 

In an instagram post, Abloh’s wife noted he often said,“Everything I do is for the 17-year old version of myself.” I interpreted this as him saying that one does not have to give up on the crazy ideas you have when you are young. Even as you grow up, you can take those concepts and run with them. 

Abloh builds upon this message in an interview intended to inspire the younger generation.  

“Life is so short that you can’t waste even a day subscribing to what someone thinks you can do versus knowing what you can do.” 

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