LVMH buys Virgil Abloh’s Off-White, expands his role in luxury empire
Fashion’s highest profile Black designer has drawn on messages of inclusivity and gender fluidity
Reuters / 01:59 PM July 23, 2021
PARIS—Virgil Abloh, fashion’s highest profile Black designer, is getting a bigger role within French luxury group LVMH, which is taking a majority stake in his Off-White streetwear label.
Abloh, 40, an American national, was hired by LVMH in March 2018 to create menswear collections for Louis Vuitton, the luxury giant’s biggest revenue driver.
He will continue in that role while also working with the group to launch new brands and partner with existing ones in a variety of sectors beyond fashion, the company said on Tuesday.His arrival at LVMH marked the marriage between streetwear and high-end fashion, mixing sneakers and camouflage pants with tailored suits and evening gowns. His influences include graffiti art, hip-hop and skateboard culture.
The style was embraced by the world’s biggest luxury group as it sought to breathe new life into some labels and attract younger customers.
The sale to LVMH and higher profile for Abloh also show renewed interest from the group in launching new brands.
Over the past three years, Abloh has drawn on messages of inclusivity and gender fluidity to expand the Louis Vuitton label’s popularity, weaving themes of racial identity into his fashion shows with poetry performances and art installations.
With an eye to reaching Asian consumers grounded by the coronavirus pandemic, the designer sent his collections of colorful suits and utilitarian-flavored outerwear off to Shanghai last summer when many labels canceled fashion shows.
LVMH is also purchasing a 60-percent stake of Abloh’s Off-White label, which will be folded into the spirits-to-jewelry conglomerate.
Abloh will retain a 40-percent stake and continue as creative director of Off-White, which he founded in 2013. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.
Abloh, who was raised near Chicago by parents from Ghana, said LVMH would help him develop Off-White into a “truly multiline luxury brand” while he hoped his expanded role at the French company would also help to foster diversity in the industry.
Abloh first gained experience at the luxury group as an intern at LVMH-owned Fendi, alongside Kanye West, in 2009.
The Off-White brand is known for its luxury urban style, featuring hoodies that start at $543.64. —Reuters
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