The world got struck on Sunday November 28, with the heart-breaking news of Virgil Abloh’s passing. The designer, who was also founder and CEO of Off-White and the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, leaves behind a rich legacy as one of the most powerful Black executives in the fashion industry.

We are still in a state of shock after the announcement of Virgil Abloh’s death. The one who was Creative Director of Off-White and Louis Vuitton man has left a great void in the world of fashion, but he also leaves us a great legacy. The son of Ghanaian immigrants, Virgil was born on September 30, 1980 in Rockford, Illinois. His love for fashion started in his youth, pretty early in his life and he was determined to shoot for the stars.

In 2002, Virgil Abloh met Kanye West, an encounter that would ultimately shape both their lives and careers irreversibly. Kanye clearly saw potential — in a piece from The New York Times, he described Virgil as “one of the smartest, fastest, most innovative people I’ve created with.” His venture into fashion started in 2009 at Fendi in Rome, where he interned alongside Kanye West, longtime friend and partner. Then he became the creative director of Kanye West’s creative agency, Donda in 2010 at the age of 22. As the creative director of West’s creative agency, Abloh produced the artwork for  West and Jay-Z’s Watch The Throne album, which got him a Grammy nomination for Best Recording Package.

In 2021, the designer debuted his first brand, PYREX VISION. Under the New York-based label, he printed “PYREX” lettering on deadstock flannel shirts, hoodies, basketball shorts and more along with the number 23 representing Michael Jordan. Abloh shuttered the brand about a year after to start Off-White™. The deadstock shirts were bought at $40 and resold for $550.

In 2012, Abloh teamed up with his DONDA colleagues Matthew Williams (who since founded ALYX), Heron Preston (who runs his own label), Justin Saunders (aka @jjjjound) and Florencia Galarza (now an ambassador for adidas Football) to launch Been Trill. Originally a DJ crew, the collective soon started breaking the internet when they started making high-priced streetwear notable for its Tumblr-style graphics and $100 shoelaces. Showcasing Abloh’s love of collaboration, Been Trill dropped various capsules with KTZ, Stussy and Hood By Air. 

With the launch of Off-White™ in 2013, Abloh changed the landscape of fashion, bridging the gap between streetwear and luxury fashion. The brand kicked off with menswear, followed by the womenswear category, which launched in 2014. The designer took over the 2010s with his signature hovering quotation marks, zip-ties, the Industrial Belt, the arrow logo, Binder Clips and so much more. Other notable designs that Abloh created under Off-White™ include the Jitney Bag, Flap Bag and most recently, the Burrow Bag.

In 2015, OFF-WHITE was nominated as a finalist for the LVMH prize, an event that foreshadowed Virgil’s eventual appointment at Louis Vuitton by a good three years. In 2016, Abloh was inducted into the BoF500, industry bible Business of Fashion’s definitive index of “the people shaping the $2.4 trillion fashion industry.” Being recognized by the BoF put Abloh alongside the likes of Alessandro Michele and Christopher Bailey was only the tip of the iceberg of success that he will reach in his lifetime.

Finally in 2018, the designer was appointed the artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear division. Abloh replaced his mentor Kim Jones.

The images of Virgil Abloh and Kanye West hugging crying after the first show under the directive direction of Louis Vuitton Man will be remembered. Emotional and groundbreaking, that collection will be remembered until the end of time (as well as all the other collections that followed). Also let’s not forget the photo they recreated in PFW.

He was not only a designer, he was a DJ, a collaborator, a visionary, a brother, a father and many more things we were deprived of discovering… At the age of 41, Virgil closed his eyes to this world after a two-year-long battle with cancer. His impactful moments that have changed the landscape of streetwear, luxury fashion and his legacy will always be remembered and honored. Rest in love, Virgil.