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Virgil Abloh: The Man Beneath the Multifaceted Surface

Katie Mak

Katie Mak

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Virgil Abloh is a man of many talents. Abloh, an American designer, stylist, and DJ,  came to stardom as Kanye West’s creative director. He practically embodies professional cool. The 36-year-old designer has emerged in the fashion realm as street-wear has transcended into the higher fashion labels. With a formal background in architecture, his brand, Off-White, epitomizes the juxtaposition of the imperfection portrayed in its name. Based out of Milan, Abloh’s label has worked with a plethora of highly acclaimed brands despite originating just four years ago. Virgil’s road to prominence in the fashion realm was rocky but is much appreciated.  

Virgil Abloh was born in the early ‘80’s in Chicago, to parents of Ghanaian descent. As a teenager not knowing what career path he wanted to chase, he started to spark interest in skateboarding and hip-hop music. Growing up in a middle-class family, his parents allowed him to DJ on the weekends as long as he maintained good grades. Virgil then attended the Illinois Institute of Technology where he studied architecture.

“I wanted to build skyscrapers because I figured if you could build the tallest building, you could design a spoon, you know?” Abloh said, in an interview with GQ. In early 2003, Virgil skipped school to meet in Chicago with Kanye West’s then-manager, John Monopoly. In the meeting, Abloh portrayed an interest in designing Yeezy’s merch and was admired by his manager for his taste in architectural design.  Like Kanye, Virgil still thinks of himself as an artist to this date.

Long after Abloh and West parted ways as business partners, the two still maintain a great relationship. The two young Chicagoan men have supported each other in their own forms of art, as they have both attained a great amount of success. Virgil went on to create his own fashion label, Off-White, which has prospered since its origin in 2013. The brand’s iconic slanted white stripes have been seen all over the fashion realm over the past couple of years. Off-White evolved from Abloh’s first clothing project, Pyrex, which featured vintage Ralph Lauren rugby shirts with P-Y-R-E-X printed across the chest. The shirts retailed at $500, and saw much success. As Virgil has grown up and drifted toward fashion’s mainstream, his brand has been seen being worn by many of Hollywood’s finest. Jay-Z, A$AP Rocky, Justin Bieber, Rihanna, Bella Hadid, and many others have been depicted wearing Off-White. Virgil realized he wanted to start his brand in 2012, soon after Balenciaga released a t-shirt that had the phrase “Join A Weird Trip” across the chest (pure street-wear). Since attaining a great degree of notoriety, the Chicagoan has been sought after by many universities to provide his insight on design, including an upcoming lecture at Harvard in late October.

The young brand has thrived, and has even seen dozens of collaborations. Off-White has collaborated with Nike, Kith, Vlone, Moncler, Vans, Levi’s, and many other notable brands. Just last week, Virgil teased at an upcoming project with Ikea as well as Louis Vuitton. What is to come for Abloh and his young brand is yet to be seen, but is sure to be amazing.   

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The student news site of Rogers Heritage High School
Virgil Abloh: The Man Beneath the Multifaceted Surface