Virgil Abloh
Virgil Abloh

The Virgil Abloh Narrative And His Influence on the African Millennials.


Virgil Abloh is a Ghanian, American born, a name known across the world now, “I’m constantly inspired by my friends and the people I surround myself with and the cities that I’m traveling to” he shares in an interview last year with Esquire. The mind behind the fashion house OffWhite which Virgil Alboh has popularly described as ‘Defining the grey area between black and white as the color Off-White’ is an individual not trapped within the conventional grey area, with a degree in architecture, he’s reinventing spaces in fashion, social media and most of all breaking the moulds that typically hold black perception and reaching incredible heights without limitation.

Fashion is in large part perception, certain things are placed on certain pedestals just by committees, you know? My goal is to break down certain pedestals and put other things on them and see if they work.

He started almost 15 years ago as a young mind with a different understanding of what being cool and unique is, born through Ghanian parents who migrated to Chicago where he grew up, he had to find a balance within each culture to find his place and voice in the world, he used creativity as his first tool working very closely with the genius Kanye West who opened the door and gave him his first taste at everything we would later know Virgil Abloh for. After a few years of working with Kanye, he started his first brand Pyrex Vision, ‘It is a representation of the importance of youth culture. The now. It’s basically my manifesto on my upbringing. Putting my idea in a unique way so that kids can participate. I just wanna start a brand that inspires and is geared towards youth. The internet generation, these kids that you see here today. It is all for them. Growing up in high school we all used to wear Champion garments which in America are standard issue gym uniforms. I based the majority of the pieces on that uniform, but an important factor for me was putting numbers on the back so everyone who wears it feels like part of the team‘ he told Complex in 2013, his first attempt of disrupting the status quo, and the same year he launched Off-White. Two years into the launch of the brand, he was already attracting curious eyes to his approach at fashion design, one that took elements from his love of street culture, architecture, stripped lines and quotes, all this merged with garbs produced in his warehouse in Milan, by a team of youtful creatives who were in touch with what and how they wanted to be represented, all mixed spontaneously through Virgil Abloh’s eyes which created a brand the world had never seen before and a finalist for the prestigious LVMH Prize for Young Fashion Designers in 2015. Off-White has grown into one of the most sought-after fashion house in the world, with physical stores in New York, Tokyo, Shanghai, London & Toronto, Virgil Abloh is clearly making his presence known.

We were a generation that was interested in fashion and wasn’t supposed to be there. We saw this as our chance to participate and make current culture. In a lot of ways, it felt like we were bringing more excitement than the industry was.

Year after year, Virgil Abloh has his mind set on an array of multidimensional ideas, mixing fashion, being a DJ, a designer, and recently an artist, he’s always working on a new collaboration or project through one of the various pursuits, ‘I realize I’ve been given tremendous opportunity along with the freedom to do my own projects, and I realize a lot of the kids from my background or mentality aren’t given opportunities, let alone a co-sign‘ he said in a Q & A with GQ.

The beauty of Virgil’s work lies in his ability to collect various ideas without forgetting who he his and what he represents, deconstructing each element and packing it all back as a product, adding his 3% on ideas all over different agendas, and inspiration from everything artistic around him, to keep your eyes fed and interested in his creative process.

Virgil’s breakthrough into the fashion world, allowing streetwear and the kids into a high fashion realm where they can have direct influence on what they consume on the high end while still having the relativity of their youthfulness instilled in the clothes is his ultimate legacy one that can inspire fashion all over the world to be unconventional and reflective of the youths & underground culture that approach life through their social commentary, giving more sides to the story and clothes. A narrative I feel is similar to the African fashion scene, a scene that’s been a bit misrepresented by the system and fashion gatekeepers, not giving room for new ideas to blossom, a chance for the youths to have a pick on how the clothes will represent their generation. If there’s one thing Virgil’s continuous success proves is we should listen to the kids, it’s an internet realm fueled by a new age, one ever hungry for new paradigms of representation.

Fashion is a clear-cut representation of culture, it’s a means of humanity wearing the elements of their nature directly on them without the forcefulness of physical interaction, in an African generation connected very closely through the internet, the introduction of Virgil into the global fashion scene, his approach gives confidence to an ethos we already believed in. Years from now, we will see fashion become more boundaryless as we diffuse the restrictions that have always kept the clothes we wear and voice in our heart misrepresented.

There was couture. And then there was Yves Saint Laurent. Like, ‘Hey, news flash: No one wears these clothes.’ So here comes ready-to-wear. And now: streetwear. These days a hoodie is pretty much the new suit jacket, he says. That’s what Off-White’s about. That shift in fashion? I’m pointing straight at it.

Virgil Abloh was recently appointed as the artistic director of the biggest fashion house in the world, Louis Vuitton, working as the head of their menswear division, a new structure we’re excited to see Virgil’s fast-paced ideas disrupt. With years of work propelling him to these heights, he is an identity for black fashion, one that allows more black creatives into the field as he goes higher up the ranks of the industry globally.

Adedayo Laketu

Adedayo Laketu is a creative inventor who's interested in curating a New Age for Africa across all mediums.


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