September 30, 1980 - Rockford, Illinois, U.S.
Virgil Abloh was an American fashion designer, entrepreneur, trained architect, and DJ who founded and led the high-end streetwear brand Off.
From 39 to 41 years of age, Virgil battled a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma.
He chose to challenge the illness privately, away from the eyes of the media and all the while seamlessly juggling all the creative endeavours he was busy with.
He died on November 28, 2021.
Both from Chicago, him and Kanye met early in their career at an internship at Fendi in 2009. Afterwards, sharing both creative visions about fashion and culture they started collaborating. Virgil became Creative Director at Donda, West’s creative agency in 2010. Virgil however, truly flourished after art directing Jay-Z and West’s joint hip-hop album “Watch the Throne,” earning the designer a Grammy nomination.
However, things between the two started to take a bad turn after Abloh’s appointment to work for Louis Vuitton, a move that West didn’t approve of.
Abloh was the creative director of Off-White and first black menswear creative director at Louis Vuitton. His work elevated streetwear into luxury wear, and permeated culture with his designs that spanned both fashion and lifestyle, and in the process altered the perception of blackness within the fashion industry.
In 2012, Abloh launched his first fashion endeavor, Pyrex Vision, which involved reimagining vintage clothing by screen-printing them with designs like numbers and logos. The limited-edition garments garnered attention through social media and caught the eye of fashion enthusiasts.
Building on this initial success, Abloh founded Off-White in 2013. The name "Off-White" represents the gray area between black and white, symbolizing ambiguity and nuance. Abloh sought to bridge the gap between streetwear and high fashion, creating a distinct aesthetic that blended elements from both realms.
Off-White swiftly gained recognition for its innovative design philosophy. Abloh incorporated bold typography, diagonal stripes, and iconic quotes—often in quotation marks—into his clothing. This unique visual language resonated with a new generation of fashion-conscious individuals.
Abloh's collaborations with prominent brands and artists further elevated Off-White's status. He collaborated with Nike on the highly popular "The Ten" collection and partnered with luxury fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, where he was appointed as the men's artistic director in 2018.
Through his visionary approach and boundary-pushing designs, Virgil Abloh successfully established Off-White as a cutting-edge brand that continues to influence contemporary fashion and streetwear culture.
Abloh gradutes in in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology. During his time at the University, a Rem Koolhaas building is completed, and Abloh said that the architect and the building “piqued my interest and opened my gateway into fashion.”
Abloh, together with Kanye become interns at Fendi in Rome.
Abloh become creative director at Donda, West’s creative agency.
Abloh art directs the album “Watch the Throne” by Jay-Z and West, an achievement that earns him a Grammy nomination.
Virgil launches his first brand, Pyrex Vision.
Abloh founds Off-White, a multi-platform creative endeavor based in Italy. The main medium is fashion but Off-White, his Virgil’s brand able to combine ideas of streetwear, luxury, art, music, and travel.
Abloh opens his first Off-White concept store in the Aoyama area of Tokyo. The store features a watercooler with Off-White branded cups that visitors take for free and resell on the secondary market.
Abloh also debuts his Grey Area furniture collection in Milan, his first furniture venture under the Off-White brand.
Probably his biggest year. He collaborates with Takashi Murakami opening at Gagosian. He releases his first song. He gets the British Fashion Award for Urban Luxe Brand. Collaborates with Warby Parker, Jacob the Jeweler, and Jimmy Choo.
Last but not least its his sneaker partnership with Nike. Abloh re-creates 10 of Nike’s iconic silhouettes, each famously adorned with a safety tag around the laces.
Abloh is named the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collections.
On June 5, he released a special collaboration with the luggage manufacturer Rimowa, a transparent suitcase in a limited edition.
Abloh was appointed to the board of directors of The Council of Fashion Designers of America. The council seeks to promote the American fashion industry.
Abloh was diagnosed with cardiac angiosarcoma, a rare type of cancer, which he kept the private from the public.
His funeral on December 6, 2021, saw attendance from notable figures likes Drake, Rihanna, Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Kid Cudi, Tyler, the Creator, ASAP Rocky, Frank Ocean, and others alongside family and close friends.