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Meet Virgil Abloh: Kanye West’s Creative Director Is Louis Vuitton’s Newest Designer

Virgil Abloh is making history.

The designer and DJ has been named the first African-American artistic director of Louis Vuitton—the largest brand of LVMH (LVMUY), the world’s largest luxury group.

Abloh, 37, is a first-generation Ghanaian-American and founder of the fashion label Off-White. The designer has no formal fashion education—he studied architecture and civil engineering—but used the skills he learned from his seamstress mother to obtain an internship at Fendi alongside Kanye West in 2006.

Off/White : Runway - Paris Fashion Week - Menswear F/W 2018-2019
U.S. designer Virgil Abloh acknowledges the audience at the end of the Off/White Menswear Fall/Winter 2018-2019 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on January 17, 2018 in Paris. Thierry Chesnot—Getty Images
Thierry Chesnot—Getty Images

The long-time Kanye West creative director worked on a number of menswear collections and launched other brands before finally settling into Off-White, the label he founded in 2013. Since then, Abloh has been at the forefront of the intersection of streetwear and luxury, collaborating with the likes of Jimmy Choo and Moncler. He also had a hugely successful collaboration with Nike and has other projects planned with Swedish furniture giant Ikea and German luggage maker Rimowa.

The rapidly growing streetwear scene has led to an increased cross-over between streetwear and high fashion. According to a recent study by Bain & Company, this fusion boosted sales of luxury goods by 5% last year, amounting to about $325 billion, notes The New York Times. Louis Vuitton already made waves last year when it announced a collaboration with cult skateboarding brand Supreme. With Abloh’s appointment, it is largely expected that Louis Vuitton will continue drifting toward more streetwear influences.

The sometime DJ and artist (he has collaborated with Takashi Murakami and will have a show of his work at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Chicago in 2019) is the first finalist for the LVMH Young Designers Prize to be named for a major design role within one of the conglomerate’s brands. Abloh’s first collection at the helm of Louis Vuitton will show at Men’s Fashion Week in Paris in June.