In this year’s Best of the Best, we honour the brands and people behind the most covetable products. Here, we honour the late Virgil Abloh, the fashion designer who set a bold new template for fashion—one that will continue to shape what we wear for years to come
When news of Virgil Abloh’s death broke in November last year, it came as a shock not only because so few knew he had cancer but also because the world had just begun catching up to his immense vision. Starting his career DJ’ing, designing streetwear and acting as creative director for Kanye West’s various projects, Abloh gained prominence with his brand, Off-White, before reaching luxury’s highest echelon when he was appointed artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear in 2018—repeatedly breaking boundaries and rewriting rules as he did so.
His omnivorous view of style, drawing on everything from skate culture to haute couture, defied categorisation and was a leading force in bridging the gap between streetwear and luxury. In that sense, he may be the single largest influence on how men have dressed over the past decade. His collections for Louis Vuitton, in particular, had the distinction of making heady statements but also displaying deeply covetable products. And thanks to prolific collaborations with everyone from Nike to Ikea to Mercedes-Maybach, Abloh’s reach went well beyond the insular world of high fashion.
After arriving on the scene as a gate-crashing outsider, Abloh worked his way to ultimate insider. (Last year, he was promoted to a new role at LVMH working across all 75 brands within the conglomerate’s portfolio, making him the most powerful Black executive in the industry and one of its most powerful executives, period.) In his life and work, Abloh set a bold new template for fashion—one that will continue to shape what we wear for years to come.