Virgil Abloh: Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton designer dies age 41

The founder of streetwear brand Off-White and “visionary” Louis Vuitton designer, Virgil Abloh, has sadly passed away from cancer aged just 41.

The ground breaking Designer was appointed the first African-American artistic director at Louis Vuitton in 2018, but also founded Off-White in 2013.

Such is the high-esteem he was held in, the off-white website closed to announce the news despite it being Cyber Monday. It was a touching tribute to show respect and honour over profit.

Off-Whites message on Virgil Abloh
Off-White closed it’s on-line store to give this message

Louis Vuitton, who acquired a majority share in Off-White in July 2021, released a statement that said “Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom” and paid tribute to a loving husband and father.

The full Off-White statement reads:

We are devastated to announce the passing of our beloved Virgil Abloh, a fiercely devoted father, husband, son, brother, and friend. He is survived by his loving wife Shannon Abloh, his children Lowe Abloh and Grey Abloh, his sister Edwina Abloh, his parents Nee and Eunice Abloh, and numerous dear friends and colleagues.

For over two years, Virgil valiantly battled a rare, aggressive form of cancer, cardiac angiosarcoma. He chose to endure his battle privately since his diagnosis in 2019, undergoing numerous challenging treatments, all while helming several significant institutions that span fashion, art, and culture.

Through it all, his work ethic, infinite curiosity, and optimism never wavered. Virgil was driven by his dedication to his craft and to his mission to open doors for others and create pathways for greater equality in art and design. He often said, “Everything I do is for the 17-year-old version of myself,” believing deeply in the power of art to inspire future generations.

We thank you all for your love and support, and we ask for privacy as we grieve and celebrate Virgil’s life.

Virgil Abloh
September 30, 1980 – November 28, 2021

Who was Virgil Abloh?

Virgil Abloh was born in Rockford Illinois in 1980, to Ghanaian immigrants Nee and Eunice Abloh. Despite graduating with a Bachelor of Science degree in civil engineering and becoming a Master of Architecture, his seamstress mother taught him how to sew at a young age and he designed T-Shirts while studying.

His career took off in 2009 with an internship with Italian Fashion House Fendi, in the same class as Chicago rapper and fashion designer Kanye West. Despite being placed in Rome and Milan respectively, the pair forged a close friendship and starting collaborating together, which led to opening the RSVP Gallery and Abloh joined West’s Donda creative agency and album work.

In 2012 Abloh started Pyrex Vision, a fashion company that bought excess stock from Ralph Lauren and screen-printed his unique designs on them which reflected youth culture at the time. This paved the way to start high-end streetwear brand Off-White in 2013, pioneering the bridge between streetwear and luxury clothing.

The name was defined by Abloh as “the gray area between black and white as the color off-white”. The fashion house was a commercial success, resulting in Abloh being named artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear ready wear line.