The Virgil Abloh Effect

It’s been over a month ever since Virgil Abloh debuted his SS19 men’s collection for Louis Vuitton. The show  was astounding and highlighted the blurring lines of streetwear and luxury clothing. Now we are left with life after Abloh and the million dollar question, What is next for streetwear? 

If you haven’t already seen Virgil Abloh’s Louis Vuitton debut, you’ll find it below. The show was absolutely incredible and absolutely convincing in its message of inclusion and celebrating diversity.  We see the giant rainbow running down the length of the walkway and even teams of people, all color-coded, standing in their respective color zones.

Abloh went as far as creating a packet of assets for his guests. On each chair the individual found a hand-created t-shirt, booklet of show notes and even Abloh’s vocabulary guide. The vocabulary guide includes several terms including “3%,” “millennial,” “normcore,” “Kanye West,” and “streetwear.” All of this contributed to the guest’s journey, where the show opens up with an all-white tailoring look, highlighting Abloh’s use of white crocodile. (Crocodile is commonly used in Abloh’s brand, Off-White.) Following the all-white tailoring is a portion of designs showing muddied colors and patterns, and then has an eccentric ending, nodding to the classic story of The Wizard of Oz.

Tailoring: The paradoxical uniform of the businessman, its suitcase afflicted creases have become engrained in the anatomy of the blazer, forever folded for travel. – Virgil Abloh

But throughout the whole show, we do not see a separate version of Abloh and a separate version of Louis Vuitton, rather, we see the blurred lines of sportswear tailoring making its transition into luxury. Historically, Louis Vuitton has been known as a bag / luggage company and Abloh successfully delivers that plus his own twist. Very often Abloh speaks of the 3%, the 3% it takes to take something existing and make it your own. Abloh does just that by taking ownership and incorporating the ceramic chain draped around the models necks and chains draped on the luxury bags.

3% : The exact ratio needed to twist a normative object into something special. -Virgil Abloh

In Abloh’s show we clearly see what’s coming after this sportswear takeover and we clearly see that fashion is beginning to redefine what luxury now means. We can see this new attitude and emerging appetite for gender-ambiguous clothing and we’re also seeing the effects of a “I can do it too” movement. We see more and more luxury brands taking on the voice of streetwear with Balenciaga’s Triple S and Kim Jones who is now the designer of Dior Homme. (Kim Jones who is famously known of first introducing sportswear to LVMH with the Supreme collaboration). We see how malleable the word luxury  is when we look at a pair of $250 Nikes designed by Abloh that resells for thousands of dollars. In my opinion though, it’s not streetwear becoming luxurious, it’s streetwear becoming something bigger and finding its ways into other facets of fashion movements. How long will this wave last? You know, I’m not sure. But as long as social media is still around, streetwear won’t be leaving the runway anytime soon.

Streetwear: A predictable clothing genre in a renegade designer’s debut collection as part of the fashion establishment, but one whose sportswear properties are undergoing a critical transformation into luxury. – Virgil Abloh


Caitie Santo

Hi, my name is Caitie Santo. I am a 22-year-old living in Chicago, Illinois. I was born in Fremont, California but later attended school at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana. I graduated with a degree in marketing and I am currently working for a business management consulting firm in Chicago. 
I was exposed to the arts at a young age, and my appreciation grew as I pursued a professional career in ballet several years ago. Although that career path ended during my first year in college, my experience is still deeply intertwined with how I describe myself, whether it is the music I listen to, the things I do, or the things I wear. I hope to continue developing my artistic expression through the various projects I work on including this blog, where I will share whatever comes to my mind.

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