Virgil Abloh’s Role as Men’s Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton Is a Major Win For Streetwear

In 2012, Jay-Z and Kanye West released a Watch The Throne series by VOYR that included intimate footage from the making of the album and tour. In one scene, Virgil Abloh, dressed in a black T-shirt, is talking on the phone as he walks down a hallway. In the background is his voiceover: “You gotta imagine we’re kids from Chicago. Just hip-hop, urban, so it’s like going to the Gucci store for the first time on Michigan Avenue to be like, look at it and then learn past it. Look at Louis Vuitton and then learn past it and ultimately come for it, like all this shit represents me.”

At the time, Abloh was mostly working as Kanye West’s creative director. He hadn’t launched Pyrex Vision or Off-White, or collaborated with Nike or became a mega-hyped designer. Little did he know that roughly seven years later he’d not only learn from Louis Vuitton but also work for the storied fashion house.

Early this morning, Louis Vuitton announced that Abloh had been appointed men’s artistic director of the Parisian fashion house. He will succeed Kim Jones, who left the label in January and has since been named Dior Homme’s artistic director. Abloh, who will present his first LV collection in Paris in June, joins Balmain’s Olivier Rousteing and former Givenchy creative director Ozwald Boateng as one of few black designers to head up a fashion house.

“It is an honor for me to accept the position of men’s artistic director for Louis Vuitton. I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to the modern times,” Abloh said in a statement.

The announcement isn’t all that surprising. After news broke that Jones was exiting Louis Vuitton, many wondered who’d replace him. Friends from the fashion industry told me that Abloh was rumored to be the successor, perhaps because, like Jones, he’s straddled the streetwear and luxury worlds. Abloh himself has often described his brand Off-White as the “gray area” between the two.

“I can never forget my design premise,” he said during a panel with Marc Ecko and Takashi Murakami at ComplexCon last year. “It’s in-between two things. So if I like high fashion and I like streetwear, Off-White is a reminder to be in the middle. I don’t have to choose between high fashion or streetwear. My brand reminds me that it doesn’t have to fit in a box.”

Virgil Abloh and Anna Wintour
Image via Getty/Pierre Suu

Abloh’s appointment builds off the direction Jones introduced at Louis Vuitton and signals what the house wants its future to be. “Virgil is incredibly good at creating bridges between the classic and the zeitgeist of the moment,” Michael Burke, chief executive of Louis Vuitton, told The New York Times.

But Abloh’s appointment is about more than design sensibilities. It speaks to not only how mainstream streetwear has become (the Carlyle Group reportedly paid $500 million for a 50% stake Supreme, valuing the business at roughly $1 billion) but also that high-fashion seems to finally be validating—and plucking from—what used to be a underground subculture that they ignored.

Consider this: In the last year alone, luxury streetwear helped boost global sales of luxury goods by 5% to an estimated €263 billion ($309 billion), according to a report by consulting firm Bain & Company. Those numbers clearly haven’t been lost with the fashion industry. This year’s CFDA nominees for Menswear Designer of the Year—a prestigious prize that has been awarded to Calvin Klein, Tom Ford, and Ralph Lauren—includes James Jebbia and Abloh, arguably currently two of the biggest figures in streetwear.

LVMH, which owns Louis Vuitton, as well as Hennessy, Marc Jacobs, and Bulgari, has been aggressively courting millennials (perhaps with some direction from the son of LVMH chairman Bernard Arnault, Alexandre), a generation that luxury brands often have trouble capturing, as their purchasing power continues to increase. In the last 12 months alone, LVMH has released a mega-hyped collaboration between Louis Vuitton and Supreme, invested in Stadium Goods, and has a Rimowa x Off-White project in the works—deals that likely would not have even been on LVMH’s, or any other luxury company’s, radars a few years ago. (Remember when West and Abloh brought leather sweatpants to Fendi in 2007 and, according to West, their design was “knocked down”?) Now, LVMH has entrusted the men’s division of its flagship label to Abloh, who is attuned to youth and street culture in a way luxury brands have long been trying to crack.

Abloh launched his first foray into fashion, Pyrex Vision, in 2013. “I just wanna start a brand that inspires and is geared towards youth,” he told i-D. “The internet generation, these kids that you see here today. It’s all for them.” The clothing label consisted mostly of T-shirts, hoodies, and a series of $500 deadstock Rugby Ralph Lauren shirts screen printed with the word “PYREX” on the back. In a few short months, Pyrex became a streetwear sensation.

But by the end of 2013, he deaded Pyrex Vision and launched Off-White, a full cut and sew line produced in Italy that blurred the lines between streetwear and high-fashion. “I saw this opportunity to be among the first of that streetwear generation, to actually elevate it to a high-fashion spirit,” he told Interview. “So what I’m doing is merging those two worlds, and trying to show just how Parisian our Lower East Side streetwear can get. That’s my thing.” Since then, he has expanded Off-White to include women’s, accessories, footwear, and collaborations with Nike, Warby Parker, IKEA, and more—most of which have sold out and resulted in lines that often snaked down several blocks. Every single collaboration and collection seems to have led to this moment. “In a way, all of my output has been to make a compelling case for me to take on a role such as this,” Abloh told The New York Times about his new role at Louis Vuitton. “I think of it as kind of the ultimate collaboration.”

Abloh has long expressed his interest in landing a job at a major fashion house. “Creative-directing a fashion house, we’ve all got our little pontoon boats or whatever,” he told GQ. “Some might be bigger than others. The fashion house is the ocean cruise. It’s like a fucking cruise liner. It’s got 7,000 people on it. You’re steering it. That’s my goal. I want to do that.”

 

@mrkimjones ❤️!!!

A post shared by @ virgilabloh on Jun 25, 2017 at 3:00am PDT

While we’ll have to wait to see what Abloh does at Louis Vuitton—and if he’ll be able silence critics who question if he has true design prowess—his appointment redefines what’s possible for a designer who has no formal training in fashion and legitimizes streetwear, a once niche interest. What’s more, if he succeeds, he’ll create a lane and a new formula for success for other streetwear designers. Abloh’s goal—with Pyrex Vision and Off-White—has always been the same: to push forward and add credibility to streetwear. At Louis Vuitton, he’ll finally have the platform to do just that.

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Tomi Lahren Is Getting Roasted for Completely Missing the Point of March for Our Lives

Famous clout chaser right-wing pundit Tomi Lahren is getting slammed on social media for dishing out some insensitive comments about March for Our Lives, a student-organized gun control rally (March 24th) sparked by the Parkland school shooting that claimed 17 lives. As hundreds of thousands of protestors (some of whom have lost family, colleagues, and loved ones due to senseless gun violence) took to the streets, the conservative commentator did what she does best: tweet.

“Simply being anti-NRA is not a solution. March FOR something, not just against everything,” she tweeted in an attempt to diminish the movement. “Disarming the citizenry is the first step to oppression and tyranny. Kids, I suggest you crack open the history book and learn this pattern. #marchforourlives.”

People on Twitter swiftly reminded Lahren of the glaringly obvious point she missed, which is that the march is actually “for” the protection of innocent lives (as evidenced by the name.)

The backlash, of course, didn't stop Lahren from running her pro-gun rhetoric into the ground. She continues to tweet boilerplate messaging in support of the NRA and the second amendment, suggesting that any step toward gun control is one step closer to tyranny. Unbelievable.

Thankfully, there were far more public figures supporting the rally than opposing it. Several famous names including Kanye West, Kim Kardashian, Amy Schumer, Paul McCartney, Ariana Grande, and Jaden and Willow Smith all touched down in Washington, D.C. to show support for the cause.

Meanwhile, Lahren is promoting a sweet new line gun-friendly athletic wear in case you need to pull out your piece on the way to yoga.

 

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What Has Kanye West Been Up to in Wyoming?

Over the weekend, fans spotted Kanye West out in Wyoming once again. Rumors circulated last year that 'Ye had been “holed up” somewhere on a mountaintop (not that mountaintop), working on the follow-up to 2016's The Life of Pablo. We haven't gotten any new music since then, and it wasn't clear exactly where he was in Wyoming, but now a picture is starting to form.

TeamKanyeDaily have been kind enough to point out that there's now photographic proof of Kanye in Wyoming, and he's in the town of Jackson. With a population of just over 10,000, it's definitely a lot more secluded than Chicago or Los Angeles. 

 

Kanye and Kim with a fan in Jackson, Wyoming. March 10.

A post shared by TeamKanyeDaily (@teamkanyedaily) on Mar 11, 2018 at 10:02am PDT

A fan managed to grab a picture with Kanye and Kim, confirming that he's at least been visiting Wyoming. However, with frequent collaborator Travis Scott also posting a picture of him hitting the slopes at a nearby ski resort, it's looking more and more likely Kanye has been in the studio working on new music.

Debuting some stylish pink hair matching Kim's, it's worth pointing out that 'Ye and Travis aren't the only ones spotted in Jackson, Wyoming in the past week. King Louie, The-Dream, and Tony Williams have all been hanging out, too. It remains to be seen on if they're working on a new album for Kanye or wrapping up Travis' long-awaited AstroWorld, but either way it's a good bet they've been in the studio.

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If it is a new Kanye album, however, should we expect the (currently) cold and remote surroundings to impact the sound of the music? Yeezy famously recorded the lavish My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy at Avex Honolulu Studios, booking three sessions for 24 hours a day until it was finished. He also started recording the gruff and experimental Yeezus in Paris, and it's easy to see the influence of high-fashion on the still groundbreaking release. Ditto Watch the Throne's international origins and and world-dominating mentality.

So will Kanye give us an album that really sounds like it's been recorded in the middle of nowhere, or is he just looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life? Whatever he does give us, it's probably going to be incredible.

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André 3000, Jon Wexler, Sarah Andelman, and More Discuss the Importance of Collaboration | ComplexCon(versations)

Earlier this week, we unveiled part one of The Art of Collab panel that took place at ComplexCon 2017 which featured Hiroshi Fujiwara talking to Jeff Staple about his legacy in design and collaborating with brands like Nike, Louis Vuitton, and Starbucks. In part two, Staple, Fujiwara​, Sarah Andelman (founder, Colette​), André 3000, and Jon Wexler (Vice President of Global Entertainment and Influencer Marketing, Adidas) come together for a discussion about the importance of collaboration.

Staple asks André about how he decides to collaborate when it comes to music, something longtime fans are aware happens few and far between these days for the legendary ATL rapper. “Sometimes people send you records like, 'Please get on this record.' Like great, great names that I actually want to get on the songs, but I'll try to write to it and it just don't work sometimes,” he explains. “It's not like a factory like Coca-Cola where I can just keeping putting out these things. So it has to feel a certain way.”

The panelists also share their thoughts on the reselling industry, and Wexler talks about Adidas working with big names like Kanye West and Pharrell.

Watch the full conversation above, and keep it locked to Complex as we'll be sharing more ComplexCon(versations) panels featuring LaVar Ball, Virgil Abloh, DeRay Mckesson, Jerry Lorenzo, and more.

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Kanye West’s Yeezy Season 7 Will Reportedly Include No Apparel or Accessories (UPDATE)

UPDATED 5:30 p.m. EST: Tuesday afternoon, Kim Kardashian weighed in on the rumors that Yeezy Season 7 will include no apparel or accessories, and called into question the credibility of the Yeezy Mafia Twitter account that sparked the rumors in the first place. “How can a verified account represent Yeezy with false information?” she asked on Twitter. “You do NOT work for Yeezy and NOT affiliated. How are you gonna believe an account that posts fake color ways?”

Yeezy Mafia's original tweets have now been deleted.​​

See original story below.

Reports came in Tuesday afternoon alerting the universe that Kanye West had invited stockists to an “empty” showroom for a surprise meeting. The purpose of this meeting, allegedly, was to reveal that Yeezy Season 7 will include no apparel or accessories because West wasn't able to pull off his vision for the collection.

Kim Kardashian has been spotted recently wearing presumed samples from Season 7.

 

Yeezy Season 7

A post shared by Kim Kardashian West (@kimkardashian) on Feb 28, 2018 at 12:47pm PST

 

SEASON 7 @KimKardashian

A post shared by YEEZY MAFIA (@yeezymafia) on Mar 1, 2018 at 11:43am PST

If Tuesday's reports represent a final stance, however, the designs will not make the leap to actual products available to the public. Additional tweets from Yeezy Mafia, citing unknown sources, compared the eventual Season 7 rollout to West's Season 2, i.e. a shoes-driven affair:

At the time of this writing, additional info on this arguably artful development was scarce. Given that anyone who attends such a showroom meeting most likely has to sign an agreement saying they won't blabber to publications, this may be all we get until an official announcement.

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Last month, West's Warholian Yeezy Season 6 campaign took over New York City subways, turnstiles and all.

This week's TeamKanyeDaily-spotted developments on the music front include a studio set-up in Wyoming, with Tony Williams and King Louie confirmed as being in the area. Maybe Yeezy Season 7's limited release is being put in place ahead of some new music?

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Lil Wayne May Be Going at Birdman on New Song “Vizine”

Lifestyle brand Ethika is gearing up to release a second edition of their RGB mixtape series, and the first single comes from Lil Wayne in the form of “Vizine.” On top form as he raps over a snarling beat, Wayne seems to once again have had enough of Cash Money boss Birdman, despite Baby's claims that he'll drop Tha Carter V this year. (We're at six-and-a-half years since IV, btw.)

During the second verse of “Vizine,” Wayne references Kanye West's “Power” while possibly sending shots at Birdman. “No one man should have all that power if he can't afford to pay the light bills,” he raps, referencing how Birdman could be reportedly losing his Miami mansion over an unpaid $12 million loan. (Rick Ross made a similar diss last year on his Snapchat.) The song makes other allusions to Birdman taking advantage of his artists, too, especially on the fiery second verse.

“Vizine” comes hot on the heels of reports that Wayne is taking Birdman back to court, alleging that he's failed to turn over documentation related to Nicki Minaj and Drake. The Blast reports that Wayne filed a motion last month to receive the supposedly missing documents, with Wayne accusing Birdman of misleading the court by falsely stating he's turned over all documents in their possession that Wayne has asked for in their ongoing $50 million lawsuit.

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Wayne alleges that Cash Money has earned over $200 million, although there's no accounting records or tax returns to be heard of. Cash Money claims they have no documents relating to Nicki Minaj, but considering she's released albums with the label, Wayne says that doesn't add up.

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How Kanye West and Travis Scott’s Stages Come to Life

John McGuire was born and raised in Southern California, and spent his childhood orbiting the film industry. His family was involved in various areas of entertainment, and by the time he was a sophomore in college, McGuire was balancing his studies with tour schedules—he was the lighting designer for live shows by Mariah Carey and My Chemical Romance.

By the time he started TrasK House in 2016, McGuire had decades of experience and a distaste for conventional live shows. “You don't get to experience artist's the way you used to,” he said, “and all of a sudden, the live concert has become the epitome of an artist's representation.” With TrasK, McGuire began to experiment, most notably in his work on Kanye West's Saint Pablo tour. The floating stage was a sensation, and McGuire followed it up with Travis Scott's iconic Bird's Eye View tour, which featured the artist atop a massive mechanical bird, complete with a worm dangling from its mouth. 

“When you go back and look at any of our performances, there's always very primitive, primal, basic things that rein through all of them,” he continued. “When we built Saint Pablo… there was an energy to life at that time. We had the Par Can… a single incandescent light bulb. One light, goes on and off, and that's it. We took that, and went with modern engineering… and new weight ratings to make a whole new experience. A lot of times it's using the oldest technology we have with some spit of the new.” 

Watch our latest Music Life with John McGuire above, and find out if New Yorkers miss the old Kanye below. 

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