Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton
Virgil Abloh and Louis Vuitton

All About Virgil Abloh’s Time at Louis Vuitton


What happens when one of the most well-known fashion houses combines forces with an iconic and incredibly talented designer? Magic — and the start of a new era. That’s exactly what occurred in 2018 when Virgil Abloh (of Off-White and Pyrex Vision fame) teamed up with Louis Vuitton and joined the brand as one of its artistic directors.


In honor of the late designer, this is a small peek into the melding of these two fashion spheres. With a small escapade into Abloh’s start and a large focus on the incredible things he brought to the mega French luxury conglomerate, here’s what you should know about Abloh’s time at Louis Vuitton. 

Virgil Abloh: A Condensed History of the Iconic Designer

Hailing from Illinois, Abloh’s career didn’t follow the typical fashion founder trajectory. Rather than attending art or fashion school, he studied civil engineering. He then went on to secure a master’s degree in architecture. Connections through his college’s architecture network is actually what led him to pursue fashion. He screen-printed T-shirts, wrote for outlets, and eventually began his own projects that led to enormous success.


He took part in internships and worked at prestigious fashion houses but officially launched his own label in 2012 titled Pyrex Vision, which in retrospect served as a small sampler of what was to come. His second venture was really what skyrocketed his name and creative capabilities into the mainstream. In 2013 he launched Off-White, which was essentially a rebranding of his first endeavor. While Off-White was certainly a fashion brand, Abloh pulled inspiration from various other places (like music and architecture) while he created the streetwear pieces that made up each collection. 


Abloh’s offerings didn’t stop there, he went on to create furniture and luggage, creatively oversaw Kanye West’s content studio, and joined the board of directors of The Council of Fashion Designers of America. But, one of the most iconic collaborations that happened throughout his career is what he did with one of Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton’s (LVMH) biggest fashion brands, Louis Vuitton. 

What Virgil Abloh Did During His Time at Louis Vuitton

Although chemistry is hoped for when designers and brands come together, it’s never guaranteed. Fortunately, any possible worries about this dissipated with Abloh’s debut as artistic director of menswear. His first collection for Louis Vuitton was at the 2019 spring/summer menswear show. He continued to impress for three years thereafter, mixing in nuances and themes that blended well with Louis Vuitton’s legacy but also felt fresh, new, and intriguing. 


Tragically, Abloh died of cancer only a few years after stepping into his position. We can only dream and hypothesize about all the incredible things he had in store for Louis Vuitton. But even in his short tenure, Abloh was able to create unforgettable pieces and make drastic changes to the way the company worked. Here are just a few of the inimitable marks he left on Louis Vuitton and the LVMH company as a whole.

Increased Diversity and Opportunities for BIPOC

Abloh made an enormous impact on diversity and inclusion at Louis Vuitton — he himself was the first African-American to hold this role for the menswear line at the brand. While he served in this role he created the LVMH Black Database, an incredible tool for discovering Black talent. He set up the LVMH Diversity Panel to continue the push for BIPOC visibility and career growth. Abloh also collaborated with Nike while serving at Louis Vuitton and the Nike Air Force 1s that came from it were auctioned off with millions of the proceeds going to his Post-Modern Scholarship Fund, a scholarship that’s still running even after his death.

Focused on Sustainability

Transparency was a big pillar of Abloh’s inclusivity initiatives, but it was also important for LVMH to adopt sustainable practices and be more transparent about those, too. Outside of Louis Vuitton, Abloh was known for doing projects and collaborations with ethical and sustainable practices and he brought this ethos in-house. For some of Louis Vuitton’s collections, materials, such as recycled wool-based jacquard, were used. He also shared the importance of circularity, as the 2021 LVMH Social and Environmental Report noted. That’s why upcycled sneaker lines and other projects were brought to the forefront during his time. 

Grew the Potential for Menswear

While Louis Vuitton is known for many things, menswear likely wouldn’t be the first thing anyone would think of before Abloh. Leather goods were its bread and butter (and still are) but after the appointment of Abloh to oversee this branch of the brand, it certainly paid off. He embraced modernity, incorporated splashy color palettes and unique silhouettes, and paid homage to subcultures with a deep passion. Where many brands would see too much risk in this type of experimentation, Abloh ran with it and developed a strong, powerful reputation that still holds true for LV today. 

Honed in on Streetwear

As the king of streetwear, it doesn’t come as a surprise that Abloh infused this essence into Louis Vuitton’s luxury assortment. The meshing of these two contrasting worlds jived well together. While decades ago these would have been very separate aesthetics, Abloh was a powerhouse at finding crossover. From shoes to graphic T-shirts to accessories like bandanas, luxury streetwear is no longer an oxymoron, particularly at LV thanks to Abloh’s creative genius.


This is only a small fragment of what Abloh contributed to Louis Vuitton and the fashion industry as a whole, but it’s clear his legacy is long-lasting and his impact is far from over.

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