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Virgil Abloh and sustainability? What about his brands? Off-White? Louis Vuitton?
28th November 2021: renowned designer Virgil Abloh has died of cancer at 41. He was the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s men collection and founder of streetwear brand Off-White. He did not make his name around topics battling for Earth and sustainability. He was inevitably involved in the last months, since times call. His recognized genius […]
28th November 2021: renowned designer Virgil Abloh has died of cancer at 41. He was the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s men collection and founder of streetwear brand Off-White.
He did not make his name around topics battling for Earth and sustainability. He was inevitably involved in the last months, since times call. His recognized genius challenged fashion conventions by re-imagining well-known products – yes like IKEA’s “Sculpture” bag you’ve seen going viral.
For Virgil it was about building a “world to make it a better, more inclusive place. That’s been my intention since I was a nobody”.
What’s Virgil Abloh’s story?
Abloh was born on September 30 1980 outside of Chicago and raised by Ghanaian immigrant parents. His mother is a seamstress and teaches him the tricks of her trade.
His connections with Kanye West begin just after his undergrad and soon after he enters the fashion space.
Early in his career, for the first brand he launched, he purchased deadstock Ralph Lauren flannel shirts for $40 each, and screen printed them with and the number 23, an homage to his childhood hero, Michael Jordan. They sell for $550 each (!!!!)
Abloh’s impact focus on Black men inclusion
“I can tell you that 99 percent of my career most people didn’t care what I was doing or where I was at – when you come from a background that doesn’t guarantee you’ll participate.”
In 2018, he was named one of the most influential people in the world by Time Magazine.
“To come from designing a graphic t-shirt in 2012 to making it to a house to design a collection…as a young Black kid from immigrant parents, that was like, impossible, you know?”
“I seek to positively influence the minds of young men of color with images of opportunity before society programs them to think any differently”.
Abloh’s projects around sustainability
In the last two years, Abloh was engaged in a project together with Evian – the bottled water brand – focused on empowering young designers with an award of $59k – who was also won by emerging designer Danielle Elsener, 29. “The scale of the waste is astronomical,” says Elsener. “So any zero-waste solution needs to be scalable, so that it becomes an industry norm.”
Off-White and Louis Vuitton on sustainability?
Abloh has definitely impacted minds and shaped culture. He has even stated that “sustainability is how humans relate to each other. Modernity in [my] studio opens the door to think about sustainability.” This is in his efforts to create room for conscious design, making new from existing material, and for “more black designers, artists, into the creative world.”
Nevertheless, sustainability as we see it in Renoon’s framework has yet to really be incorporated into these two brands.
Was Off-White a brand to support and make a dream come true – that dream of a Black designer that thought he never stood a chance? Definitely, it was a way to support a value. Are there now other designers you could be supporting? Definitely.
Making space for young street designers whose mission center sustainability topics we need in 2021
Carne Bollente, Viron, Raeburn, Rombaut to name a few. Find them all in the app!
What to read next
What is Renoon?
A new way to discover and shop fashion responsibly
Renoon is a leading app for sustainability and fashion. We connect our members with the multitude of brands and platforms to simplify and enrich the experience of combining style with sustainability values.
A destination and community launched in 2021, guiding thousands of members in their sustainability journey. Renoon is not yet another shop; it’s an entire universe of values, untold stories about sustainability and a cohesive place where intentions become reality.