How Did Virgil Abloh Just Debut with Louis Vuitton?
The Streetwear Giant Just Took On The Runway. How Did This Happen?
Considering he is coming from a background in Civil Engineering it is kind of crazy to think what just happened. Virgil Abloh, the American streetwear designer just debuted for one of the biggest high fashion houses in the world. How is the real question?
Firstly, Abloh started off in Fendi where he met Kanye West. This led him to being named creative director of DONDA, the creative agency set up by Kanye West in memory of his mother. Here, Abloh learned the basis for his creative process. This lead him on to create Pyrex, a streetwear brand that did not last for long, about a year. The idea was interesting though, Abloh bought a lot of deadstock Ralph Lauren clothes and named his brand after a reliable equipment manufacturer. Why? To see how far associate branding would go if old clothes were merely altered and screen printed on. He bought stuff for $40 and sold for $500 up.
How did this work for a while? People associate names with things, in the back of your brain a place associates a word with an event or thing. From here you can create anything. Tapping into this is another thing altogether. Abloh failed in that, the collabs he released with PYREX, some with Champion, just did not connect with the audience he wanted. Why? Because streetwear is a young crowd. They don’t want to wear the name on the test tubes in their school. Really simple. He didn’t learn that in his MA in Architecture or Bachelors in Civil Engineering School. It was an artistic experiment more than anything.
From here, we saw the rise of OFF-WHITE. This is where we see his ideas in full swing and it’s kind of beautiful to watch. Looking at the rise of brands such as VETEMENTS, Abloh saw the possibility of the internet with clothes. Something that isn’t examined. The runway is dead. People get their inspiration here. IG, Pinterest or whatever pictures they see. All you have to do is identify the concept and create it. What he saw is where the real genius comes in. Branding. He branded the labels. The use of quotation marks to simplify the branding is stunning because it creates the possibility to release a large amount of collections with a large amount of other labels and all you are asking for is to brand and slightly alter to fit the silhouette in trend. If you have a following behind you then who wouldn’t ride your wave with you? The answer is nobody. Especially not in something as trend focused as modern day fashion. Despite some lawsuits coming in from the likes of Rick Owens, Abloh eventually got his following and the wave started to build as did his portfolio of collaborations. Currently an IKEA one is in the works.
Within 3 years, OFF-WHITE had strung together enough collaboration to make themselves one of the most sought after labels in the world. The work with NIKE was stupidly genius in its simplicity. “AIR”, amazing. It literally sold out before it hit the shops based on that. Throw in some of that deconstructed look that was wiping up runways in recent seasons and you have created a sold out and highly resellable capsule with the biggest sportswear label in the world and all you did was see a small gap in how to brand them and their iconic logo. Incredible.
When he got the Louis Vuitton job I honestly was not surprised at all. Following that SUPREME collaboration, Louis Vuitton see where the money in fashion is. Branding is the future and if there is a brand logo more known than Nike’s tick, it is that LV. Expect more highly crafted trend based seasons, but I cant see past him taking LV into the collaboration world more and its gonna be so interesting to see. Whether Abloh will be around for long after this is another thing. Will his direction of branding take LV onwards, or will it be a cruel relationship that results in both parties falling back into what they know best?
Check out our review of the show along with a few others from Paris in the coming days.