Virgil Abloh (born September 30, 1980) is an American designer, entrepreneur, and DJ who has been the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection since March 2018. Abloh is also the chief executive officer of the Milan-based label Off-White, a fashion house he founded in 2013.
A trained architect, Abloh, who also worked in Chicago street fashion, entered the world of international fashion with an internship at Fendi in 2009 alongside rapper Kanye West. The two then began an artistic collaboration that would launch Abloh’s career into founding Off-White. The first American of African descent to be artistic director at a French luxury fashion house, he was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2018.
EARLY LIFE AND EDUCATION
Virgil Abloh was born on September 30, 1980, in Rockford, Illinois, to Ghanaian immigrant parents. His mother was a seamstress and his father managed a paint company. Abloh was raised in Rockford, where he attended Boylan Catholic High School, graduating in 1998. He graduated from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 2002 with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering. He received his Master of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT) in 2006. When Abloh was attending IIT there was a building on campus under construction designed by the architect Rem Koolhaas which helped spark his interests for fashion. While studying architecture, he designed t-shirts and wrote on fashion and design for a well known blog, The Brilliance. Abloh first met popular musician Kanye West while working on his designs at a Chicago print shop.
Abloh met his wife, Shannon Sundberg, in high school. They married in 2009. He lives in Chicago with his wife and two children. Abloh is of the Ewe ethnicity of the Volta region in Ghana.
In 2020, Abloh established the Virgil Abloh™️ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund. Abloh raised $1 million for the scholarships which will be managed by the Fashion Scholarship Fund to assist Black students.
AWARDS AND HONORS
Abloh received his first major award in 2011 when his work designing the cover art for the 2011 Jay-Z/Kanye West album Watch the Throne was nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Recording Package. In 2015 Abloh for Off-White ℅ Virgil Abloh was one of the finalists for the LVMH Prize. Abloh was the only American designer to be nominated for the award. Abloh’s Charlie Hebdo-inspired “War is Not Over!” tees as well as his toppers from his fall 2015 women’s collection gained him the most traction. He received the Urban Luxe award at the 2017 British Fashion Awards. He also won International designer of the Year at the GQ men of the year awards in 2017. Derived from predominantly his role as creative director for his brand Off-White as well as collaborations with Nike. Abloh’s Off-White Air Jordan “the Ten” collaboration won 2017’s Shoe of the Year, received nods for Accessory Designer of the Year. Abloh was listed as one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world in 2018, one of two designers named that year. In the Time issue, Japanese artist Takashi Murakami wrote that Abloh’s impressive achievements lead to his listing. In December 2018, Abloh was honored as a leading innovator by Ebony Power 100 alongside SHAVONE. Abloh was also nominated for 2019 Menswear Designer of the Year.