On Monday, Louis Vuitton announced that Virgil Abloh, a designer with no formal training yet has the industry captivated by his street smarts (er, streetwear), will be its new artistic director of menswear. Abloh, 37, is the French house's first African-American artistic director and succeeds Kim Jones, who announced his departure in January. “I find the heritage and creative integrity of the house are key inspirations," Abloh said of his move in a statement, "and will look to reference them both while drawing parallels to modern times.”
Founder of label Off-White, Abloh has garnered a youth-led following most heritage brands could only dream of — for example, his personal Instagram account has 1.6 million followers, with his label sitting at a cool 3.1 million. Before founding his own company in 2013, Abloh interned at Fendi and served as Kanye West's creative consultant. Since going at it on his own, he's been nominated for the LVMH prize, won the Urban Luxury Brand award at the Fashion Awards in 2017, collaborated with everyone from IKEA to Levi's and Nike, and has become just about the most sought-after brand out there.
Abloh's appointment at Louis Vuitton confirms that streetwear and athleisure will soon see a luxury-level type of industry respect, and we can expect the same much-hyped pieces that we saw from his predecessor Jones, a close friend of Abloh's whose Vuitton collaboration with Supreme was the sellout drop of 2017. As the industry struggles to figure out just what makes new age consumers tick, the promoting of Abloh marks a new era of creative directors that are genuinely keen to push the industry forward at a pace that's less glacial than we're used to.