Virgil Abloh, Off-White Founder, Named Louis Vuitton’s First Black Artistic Director

Virgil Abloh has successfully bridged the gap between streetwear and high fashion as it was announced Monday (Mar. 26) that he will become Louis Vuitton’s first black artistic director, the New York Times reports. Rumors of the Off-White founder’s deal with one of the most recognizable brands in the world began to surface in January when LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton decided to part ways with former artistic director, Kim Jones.

It was a move that many felt was part of a shift in LVMH’s menswear section. “These houses are under tremendous pressure to be right on the money of what certain generations want,” said Michael Hainey, editorial director of Esquire magazine, on Jones’ departure.

Although Jones brought several collaborators to Louis Vuitton like the estate of the punk-era artist Christopher Nemeth and streetwear brand Supreme, with the acquisition of Abloh, LVMH leans to this younger approach as the company’s signature style rather than a rare partnership.

From his humble beginnings as Kanye West’s longtime creative director where he designed album covers to directing music videos, Abloh gained an understanding on what appeals to a “certain generation” LVMH is trying to target. The streetwear cohort is optimistic about his work at one of Europe’s oldest and most powerful luxury houses and his position as one of the few black designers at the top of a French heritage entity.

“I feel elated,” Abloh explained during a phone call with the New York Times. “This opportunity to think through what the next chapter of design and luxury will mean at a brand that represents the pinnacle of luxury was always a goal in my wildest dreams. And to show a younger generation that there is no one way anyone in this kind of position has to look is a fantastically modern spirit in which to start.”