Off-White’s Virgil Abloh Responds To Backlash Over $50 Bail Fund Donation

Photo: Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images.
Update: In response to the criticism, Virgil Abloh posted a statement on Instagram Monday night. He first apologized for his looting comments: “yesterday I spoke about how my stores and stores of friends were looted. i apologize that it seemed like my concern for those stores outweighed my concern for our right to protest injustice and express our anger and rage in the moment.”
He next addressed the $50 donation he made to a bail fund: “i also joined a social media chain of friends who were matching $50 donations. i apologize that appeared to some as if that was my only donation to these important causes.” He later added, “i have donated $20,500 to bail funds and other causes related to this movement.”
He ended the statement with:
“i want people to know that I am participating in this movement, from A-Z. personally donating, being vocal not silent, addressing how my communities within design and global streetwear can help to end racism. my voice is shaped by every black person who came before me and every person today who is fighting for this on the frontlines and in multiple other ways. i systematically want racism erased, and i will do my part to ensure it is… in just one week, we lost George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade to police violence. this has to stop.”
Read the full statement, below.
This story was originally published on June 1, 2020.
As protesters took to the streets in cities worldwide following the death of George Floyd — an unarmed Black man killed after being kneeled on by police in Minneapolis last week — many people, including celebrities, are expressing solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement by donating money to pay for the legal expenses and release of protesters in custody.
In light of some prominent names donating huge sums — Chrissy Teigen pledged to donate $200,000 to bail out protesters — others, who have not done the same, have faced criticism. Notably, artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear collection and CEO of Off-White, Virgil Abloh, who posted a screenshot on Instagram Stories of a donation he made — for $50. 
The news of the donation came after Abloh re-posted photos of looting in Fat Tiger Workshop and RSVP Gallery, which carries Off-White, following protests in Chicago.
After posting a document including links to bail funds and legal help, Abloh included a screenshot of a $50 donation to Fempower. “The Miami community - im crazy inspired. for kids in the streets that need bail funds for George Floyd protests,” he wrote over the donation confirmation.
In response, people questioned the “measly” sum, calling Abloh “cheap.” “Virgil Abloh. Creator of Off-White.. Artistic Director of Louis Vuitton donated a measly $50... and y’all want me to feel bad for designer stores getting looted???” a Twitter user wrote. 
Some have pointed out that a pair of socks, one of the lowest-priced items available at Off-White, costs more than the donation Abloh made.
Others have defended the designer, and pointed out that it’s possible Abloh could have donated more money privately.
In addition to celebrities donating to bailout funds, brands like Rihanna’s Savage Fenty have also publicly contributed to help protesters. Other designers like Brother Vellies’ Aurora James have called on retailers to commit to buying 15% of their stock from Black-owned businesses.
View this post on Instagram

@wholefoods @target @shopmedmen @walmart @saks @sephora @netaporter @barnesandnoble @homedepot I am asking you to commit to buying 15% of your products from Black owned businesses. . So many of your businesses are built on Black spending power. So many of your stores are set up in Black communities. So many of your sponsored posts are seen on Black feeds. This is the least you can do for us. We represent 15% of the population and we need to represent 15% of your shelf space. . Whole Foods if you were to sign on to this pledge, it could immediately drive much needed support to Black farmers. Banks will be forced to take them seriously because they will be walking in with major purchase orders from Whole Foods. Investors for the very first time will start actively seeking them out. Small businesses can turn into bigger ones. Real investment will start happening in Black businesses which will subsequently be paid forward into our Black communities. . Dont get me wrong, I understand the complexities of this request. I am a business Woman. I have sold millions of dollars of product over the years at a business I started with $3500 at a flea market. So I am telling you we can get this figured out. This is an opportunity. It is your opportunity to get in the right side of this. . So for all of the ‘what can we do to help?’ questions out there, this is my personal answer. #15PercentPledge . I will get texts that this is crazy. I will get phone calls that this is too direct, too big of an ask, too this, too that. But I don’t think it’s too anything, in fact I think it’s just a start. You want to be an ally? This is what I’m asking for.

A post shared by Aurora James 🦢 (@aurorajames) on

We have reached out to Off-White for comment and will update this post should we hear back. 
To help bring attention to the police killing of George Floyd, you can sign the petition here, or donate to local organizations like Black Vision Collective or Reclaim the Block via the Minnesota Freedom Fund here.

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