Virgil Abloh: The street fashion prophet


Noah Concordia, Contributor

Born on September 30, 1980, Virgil Abloh grew up in Rockford, Indiana. He would later go on to receive a Master’s in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology. While in college, he was introduced to fashion design. Little did he know, fashion would be his greatest gift. 

Abloh would head straight to Rome, Italy after graduating to intern for the Italian fashion brand Fendi. Virgil met Kanye West through Fendi and was able to start an important friendship. Virgil’s good taste for men’s fashion helped him become a major associate for luxury brand Louis Vuitton, where he has been the artistic director of menswear since 2018. Although Virgil Abloh’s resume is already one of the best among American fashion designers as a result of his work with Kanye West, Fendi, and Louis Vuitton, his greatest achievement came in 2013. The brand Off-White was founded by Abloh in 2013 and has taken the world by storm. Abloh was able to combine high end fashion with streetwear. According to Lyst Index, which transforms sales and sentiment analysis into rankings, Off-White surpassed Gucci as the greatest clothing brand in the world. Yes, the world. 

Off-White has become bigger than even Abloh thought was possible, and it is only getting more popular. The company’s biggest product is the basic T-shirts with the signature quotation Off-White labeling and the arrow pattern on the back. This simple but clean looking design ranges in price: anywhere from $250 to $500 retail. This product is a must-have for most hypebeasts. What makes this T-shirt so special is the fact that it is more affordable (somewhat) than an $800 Supreme box logo and is significantly better quality. Basic streetwear fanatics will turn heads wearing a rare Off-White T-shirt compared to a basic, common Supreme shirt. Virgil Abloh set a revolution in the hypebeast culture. 

His most popular creation ever is the Nike and Off-White sneaker collaboration. In 2017, Abloh released “The Ten” with Nike. It was, at the time, the biggest shoe drop of the year. Little did people know it would be the birth of the biggest shoe line ever. Nike and Abloh have been releasing new colors and models since the original drop. This has been Abloh’s most influential work to date and has designated him as the king of streetwear designers. The Nike Off-White shoes quickly became its own entity; they were rapped about in songs, worn by A-list celebrities, and were seen as the holy grail of sneakers for everyone in the sneaker culture. The shoe design is something that we have never seen before: unorthodox stitching, texts with quotations written all over, contradicting colors, and zipties. The design looks as if Abloh “cut and paste” the shoes together, and oddly enough, people love it. People love it so much that they are willing to pay up to $2,500 for some models. Virgil Abloh wanted to make something unique and different. In an interview he said, “It’s larger than design culture, these 10 shoes have broken barriers in performance and style. To me, they are on the same level as the sculpture of David or the Mona [Lisa]. You can debate it all you want, but they mean something.” His goal was to create something that had never been done and that people would see as fresh and new. This new style skyrocketed in popularity and has made the Off-White Nikes the most hyped and popular sneakers of all time and they are just getting started. 

“We’re at the beginning of what I believe is the “streetwear” era of fashion – which is about doing it yourself, and logos, and irony, and satire,” Virgil summed up in his interview. “But it can also be chic, and refined, and elevated. That’s Off-White.” He wanted to create the idea that anyone could have created his shoes and clothing but can still be a symbol in fashion. Virgil Abloh made a new style of high end streetwear all on his own and has transformed it into the driving influence of the hypebeast culture. His influence will be present for years to come.