Since March this year, Virgil Abloh has been artistic director at Louis Vuitton. This is how the King of Cool is taking streetwear to a whole new level.
by Luciana Fernández
Virgil Abloh has always been at the center of controversy as a highly successful streetwear designer in a traditionally haute couture fashion world, but his recent appointment at the french luxury house has sparked outrage as well as praise among critics and consumers alike. With renowned fashion figures questioning his credentials as a designer and outwardly expressing their contempt for Louis Vuitton’s unconventional decision, every move Virgil Abloh makes seems to be under the microscope.
Abloh is redefining what it means to be a designer in the high fashion industry by constantly breaking traditional barriers. He started out as a DJ, and then went on to get a degree in architecture and engineering. He had his big break when he became creative director for Kanye West’s famous brand, Yeezy, which would earned him status as fashion’s “King of Cool”. Later on, he would open Off-White, his own brand that would caught the attention of celebrities such as Serena Williams, Neymar, Cara Delevinge, and Beyoncé. Needless to say, Virgil Abloh does not have the typical designer’s background or training. More so than a traditional designer, he is a stylist and marketing genius with the ability to reinterpret familiar clothing and create new vocabulary to communicate the classic to a younger consumer.
Not only is he redefining the role of a designer, but he is shifting the course of high fashion styles as well. In his first collection for Louis Vuitton, Abloh showcased his ability to seamlessly blend luxury and streetwear in order to make the traditional brand’s menswear more relatable to the consumer as well as more relevant to younger generations.
He is insistent on not wanting streetwear to be seen merely as a short lived trend by the fashion world. Abloh knows what people find cool because he designs things that he would wear himself. By marrying the traditional with the current zeitgeist, this designer manages to break down the constrictions of the classic high fashion mold.
After noticing how Abloh’s talents play into the modern consumer culture, Louis Vuitton decided to make Off-White's mastermind their artistic director. After collaborating with the skateboard Supreme label orchestrated by Abloh’s predecessor, Kim Jones, the brand experienced a profit increase of 29%. This was the first instance of a luxury house recognizing the power of having a dedicated fanbase and immersing itself into the popular “hype beast” culture. But this decision was not simply about money. In the current fashion climate, it is essential for luxury brands to react to contemporary consumerism. In this way, Louis Vuitton’s decision is an incredibly strategic one.
The French fashion house has been one of the first luxury brands to recognize that the old ways of the industry must evolve drastically and rapidly as the relationship between the consumer and the brand shifts for this new generation. Long gone are the days when the public had to adapt to runway trends since now the consumer is more of a client that demands fashion to adapt to their taste instead.
In his new place as artistic director of Louis Vuitton, and without compromising key aspects of high fashion, Abloh is giving a voice to the consumer by creating new limits within the scope of high fashion streetwear. Through the blending of a luxury brand and street style, he is changing the way the industry interacts with its consumers by envisioning clothing pieces made for this generation’s appreciation -one that demands edgier trends while remaining wearable and casual.
Regardless of the fashion world’s feelings of either objection or encouragement towards the streetwear designer, Abloh's new high ranking place in such an iconic and rarely "outside the box" brand as Louis Vuitton, will bring unprecedented change that will create a permanent impact in both, the future of fashion and the brand itself. We can just wait to see his new collection as he may be a breath of fresh air to a brand that has been afraid to get out of its comfort zone.
Cover picture at Hypebeast
Don't miss these: