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Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 14 December 2018

If you don't know the name Virgil Abloh, here's why you soon will

If the name isn’t familiar to you, it will be soon. What Kanye West is to Kim Kardashian’s fashion reinvention, Virgil is to Kanye’s

Virgil Abloh. EPA
Virgil Abloh. EPA

Virgil Abloh is a style sensation. Since his arrival into the fashion arena in 2011, his career has not so much grown as exploded. He has gone from being a virtual unknown to heading two of the most in-demand fashion labels: Off-White and Louis Vuitton.

Born in Rockford, Illinois, in 1980 to Ghanaian parents, Abloh studied civil engineering and architecture, earning a master’s degree in 2006. Despite having no formal training in fashion, he applied and was accepted as an intern at Fendi in 2009, at the same time as rapper Kayne West. The two hit it off, and Abloh was quickly hired to design for the already-famous West. Abloh launched his first label, Pyrex Vision, in 2012 and, despite the brand being short-lived, it established his as a name to watch.

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In 2013, Abloh launched Off-White, drawing together an innate love of streetwear with industrial elements, such as plastic zip ties on trainers, sparking a worldwide obsession, worn by the likes of Drake and Jay Z. A year after its launch, Off-White was shortlisted for the LVMH prize (it lost), and the first store opened in Tokyo. While West’s career has stalled, Off-White is in its ascendancy, enjoying several high-profile tie-ups, including Nike and The Ten collection, where Abloh reimagined 10 of Nike’s most popular trainers, which sold out.

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Abloh was snapped up by Louis Vuitton earlier this year, as head of menswear. His debut show for spring/summer 2019 (which showed in Paris in June) signalled an industry first, with 30 looks presented on non-Caucasian models.

Seemingly unstoppable, who knows how high this star will rise.

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