If you didn’t already know Virgil Abloh as the founder of streetwear brand Off-White—a frequent collaborator with brands like Nike and Ikea—or as Kanye West’s former creative director, it’s time to commit his name to memory. Because Abloh was just named the artistic director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, and that’s major.
The Illinois-born, first-generation Ghanaian-American will be the first Black designer at the helm of an LVMH-owned brand. And in the company of Olivier Rousteing at Balmain and Carol Lim and Humberto Leon at Kenzo, Abloh will be one of the few people of colour at the top of any French fashion house.
That’s big news, of course. But it’s not a huge surprise, since Abloh’s name has been linked to LVMH a lot in the past. In 2015, he was a finalist for the LVMH Young Designers Prize, and when Ricardo Tisci left LVMH-owned Givenchy last year rumours swirled that Abloh would take on that post.
Although he didn’t snag Givenchy (that one went to Clare Waight Keller), LVMH and Louis Vuitton clearly noticed Abloh’s massive talent for creating streetwear pieces that people go nuts for. Maybe the brand is looking for more of the hype they saw with their Supreme collaboration, fuelled by younger fans who want luxury that also happens to be cool.
It definitely sounds like that’s what Abloh will be shooting for as he takes on this new role. The designer told the New York Times he’s ready to shake up the storied brand, and he’s prepped an eight-page manual to help define the new ethos he envisions for Louis Vuitton. “The first thing I am going to do is define new codes,” he said to the Times. “My muse has always been what people actually wear, and I am really excited to make a luxury version of that.”
And if the close to 300,000 likes on Abloh’s latest Insta post are any indication, there will be no shortage of people clamouring to see his first collection at Paris Men’s Fashion Week this June.