On Monday, Louis Vuitton revealed that Off-White’s Virgil Abloh would take the reigns of menswear for the brand, replacing recently departed artistic director Kim Jones. Abloh, who has risen meteorically within the fashion industry since Kanye West hired the Chicago-born design wunderkind to be his consultant, will stay on as creative director of Off-White, the hype-generating brand he founded in 2012. Nonetheless, the move is a continuation of fashion’s ongoing game of musical chairs, arriving in the wake of Riccardo Tisci’s move from Givenchy to Burberry and Hedi Slimane leaving Saint Laurent for Céline.
If Kim Jones, now headed for Dior Homme, ushered in luxury-meets-streetwear at LVMH through collaborations with Supreme, Hiroshi Fujiwara and more, Abloh is bound to take that conceit to outer space; Off-White’s covetable sweats were the ur-athleisure, garnering cult-brand cache and blue-chip prices. Abloh has also shared Jones’s itch to collaborate, recently joining forces with everyone from Jimmy Choo to Sunglass Hut.
Both the fashion community and clout connoisseurs took to social media praising the move, not only for Abloh’s creative chops but also the symbolic significance of one of the most established brands around installing an originator of streetwear culture. “This is a win not only for you, But the culture as a whole,” wrote model Luka Sabbat. “tbh I see this as another huge step for POC working in the fashion industry,” added Rio Uribe of Gypsy Sport on Instagram.
As overdue as Abloh’s new leadership position may be, Louis Vuitton and Kanye West have a history of taking cues from one another; in 2003 the house released the “Multicolore Monogram” handbag, a collaboration with artist Takashi Murakami. Four years later, Kanye West tapped Murakami to create his Graduation album art, propelling Murakami’s status as a cult icon, which recently culminated in Abloh himself collaborating with Murakami on a limited edition t-shirt. Given Abloh’s newly minted role, it seems the Murakami/Louis Vuitton partnership could be ripe for a revival.
Main image: © Fabien Montique, courtesy of Louis Vuitton