Pioneering Luxury Sportswear Designer Virgil Abloh Passes Away at 41 | Ghanaian-American broke all the rules of fashion and won
If Virgil Abloh were a name, his name would be ubiquitous. The 41-year-old designer passed away yesterday, leaving an indelible mark in the world of sporty luxury.
Abloh was the victim of a battle with a rare form of cancer that he had faced in silence for two years.
We are saddened by the news of the death of Virgil Abloh. pic.twitter.com/JurKPSItn3
– Nike (@Nike) November 28, 2021
Influence on architectural design
Passing through Chicago, Illinois, the Ghanaian-American has woven his brand into the fabric of luxury culture, changing the way athletes, artists and the world see the limits of fashion.
Virgil was there.
In loving memory of Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton pays homage to the life and legacy of a creative genius with a presentation of its Spring / Summer 2022 collection in Miami on November 30 at 5:30 p.m. (ET). pic.twitter.com/3QwXJRkfin
– Louis Vuitton (@LouisVuitton) November 29, 2021
After aligning with compatriot Chicago Kanye West and moving on from a career as an architect, the two began an internship at Fendi in 2009 and moved to Rome.
In less than ten years from that moment, Abloh would become the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s division for luxury powerhouse LVMH. He also launched his luxury sports leisure line, Off-White, which created subtle creative elements such as quotes on colorful items and ties to embellish his clothes and sneakers.
LeBron James and AD on @virgilabloh:
“Seeing Virgil break down the barrier of work companies like Nike and Louis Vuitton, because black does so much for our youth,” says @King James.
– Landon Buford (@LandonBuford) November 29, 2021
The transformative artist
However, Abloh’s collaborations with Nike would transform the modern sportswear game as we know it. Abloh had a mantra, the 3% rule, where he took a pre-existing design and changed it to just 3% for an explosive transforming effect.
With Nike, an iconic Air Jordan muse has become a perfect canvas.
Frank Ocean tells the story of his close friend Virgil Abloh. ?? pic.twitter.com/AmCAKunK1x
– Updates from Frank Ocean (@blahnded) November 29, 2021
“Nike is progressive. They could easily have said, “Don’t do this. You cannot expose the heel counter, it must be covered. Instead, they said, “We collaborated to find a new space,” Abloh told FN in 2017 of his take on the iconic Air Jordan 1 silhouette.
Abloh previewed his take on the Air Jordan 1 at the 2017 Met Gala. As a result, he officially converted the sneaker and his cult following into instant followers of the Abloh lifestyle.
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The genius of Abloh’s vision was his understanding of colorways as the driving force behind the insatiable appetite for Air Jordans. Abloh’s signature Nike look led to a 10-shoe collaboration with the company, titled “The Ten”.
“Virgil Abloh had a unique curiosity and passion that inspired his life, creativity and dreams. It’s a shock when someone so young and with such a powerful talent is suddenly taken away from us. My thoughts are with his wife, his children and all his family whom he loved so much. – RL pic.twitter.com/e8nylprCAh
– Ralph Lauren (@RalphLauren) November 29, 2021
Abloh “reconstructed 10 Nike shoe icons,” divided into two thematic representations. The first theme, “Reveal”, was designed to appear accessible. The second, “Ghosting”, used translucent rods. The idea was to “advance the idea of revealing and uniting the second set of silhouettes through a common material”.
A nod to its architectural roots, of course.
The design spectrum has taken Abloh to travel the world of Nike footwear. Nike classics like the Air Max 90, Air Presto, Air VaporMax, Blazer Mid, Zoom Fly SP, Air Force 1 Low, React Hyperdunk 2017 and Air Max 97 have all been redesigned with the Abloh effect.
Additionally, today’s athletes count Abloh’s creations in their luxury lifestyle repertoire. His work is now synonymous with success.
Virgil Abloh’s “Off White x Nike” shoes are now resold up to triple the price after his death😳 pic.twitter.com/YXnZXqoufM
– RapTV (@raptvcom) November 29, 2021
Abloh helped Kanye West with Yeezy’s first design plan. He then established numerous collaborations with brands like IKEA and more. Virgil Abloh was a transformative artist. Its subtle adjustments to classic brands readjusted the way the world received them.
However, Abloh lives in a space where you don’t dismiss basic fashion items, but just push them forward. It is a legacy that will undoubtedly live on forever.
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