As fashion houses go, Louis Vuitton is among the most established – but today it announced the appointment of fashion’s newest phenomena to head up its menswear division as artistic director: Virgil Abloh. “Virgil is one of the few designers who truly marries street culture with high fashion – and the first black designer to be given such a position in the gilded halls of LVMH. His appointment is a step in the right direction for diversity, as well as a particularly exciting creative moment for the industry,” British Vogue‘s Editor-in-chief, Edward Enninful, commented on the move.
A 34-year-old Chicago native with no formal fashion training, his brand – Off-White – has had an almost incalculable impact on the industry since its inception in 2014 (its former incarnation, Pyrex Vision, was founded in 2013), and his democratic approach to design has opened the doors of luxury to a generation often alienated by its impenetrable veneer. “My motivation is, in a part, a bit of angst that comes from feeling like I don’t belong; that our generation doesn’t belong,” he said in September, at a free-admission panel talk that he hosted with Nike. “I made a conscious decision that I wasn’t just going to be a consumer; that at least one of us would appear at the end of a Parisian runway.” Now that he will be appearing on one of the world’s most revered catwalks in June, we run down why his appointment matters.