What’s Next for Virgil Abloh’s Legacy?
“Something you have to understand is, there wasn’t a plan,” said Shannon Abloh, wife of the late designer Virgil Abloh, in a New York Times interview published Tuesday, a day after the one-year anniversary of his death from a rare cancer at age 41. When he passed, Virgil was, characteristically, in the middle of doing a lot of different things: he was the designing collections as the creative director of both Louis Vuitton menswear and his own brand, Off-White; he was planning an ambitious Brooklyn Museum retrospective; he was constantly communicating with countless fellow creatives, famous and otherwise, about what they were working on and how he could help. In her grief, his widow is working to archive it all.
“Even though we knew the challenge of what he was fighting, it went a lot faster than we thought it was going to,” Shannon continued, speaking to Vanessa Friedman of the Times. “So we never had the ‘this is the legacy that I want you to work toward’ discussion. But because I was with him for so long, I knew every inch of him. I knew every inch of his brain.”
Because in medias res was Virgil’s perpetual M.O., that legacy was still in the works, and many of his projects are still yet unseen. In May, Shannon founded Virgil Abloh Securities (of which she is also chief executive) as a means of corralling the designer’s many creative endeavors, including his London-based design studio Alaska Alaska and a joint venture with Nike called Architecture, for safekeeping; next spring, as president of the Virgil Abloh Foundation, she will host “an inaugural summit of his closest collaborators, who will brainstorm ways to increase creative opportunities for the next generation of minority students.” (In July 2020, prior to his passing, Virgil announced the creation of a million-dollar Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund to benefit Black fashion students.) As Howard Feller, Virgil’s longtime business adviser who now works with Shannon, told the Times: “We are on the 50-year plan.”
Elsewhere in the interview, John Hoke, Nike’s chief creative officer, “said there is at least a year’s worth of Off-White x Nike products already in the pipeline,” which Architecture is currently parsing through. The Off-White™ x Nike Terra Forma, a craggy-soled high-top emblazoned with the words “Tread Lightly,” and the first Nike sneaker Virgil designed from scratch, is set to go on sale later in December, accompanied by an associated apparel line.
“After his passing, so many people came up to me and said, ‘Virgil was my best friend.’ His best friend in the fashion industry, his best friend in the music world,” Shannon said, reiterating a feeling that many in Virgil’s orbit shared in the days and months after his death—of friendship and mentorship that lived through WhatsApp messages and Instagram DMs. “A lot of his collaborators, or even people who maybe weren’t that close to him, feel ‘I can do this to help his legacy, or I can do that to help his legacy.’” As for her own part in that work, she added, “I think that it’s important that my kids are able to see in 20 years what their dad was able to do and that Mom really stepped up.”
At one point in human history, the world believed one of the wealthiest beings living was a dog. Before…