January 10, 2020

Can Virgil Abloh Be Defined?

Virgil Abloh has embodied the word multidisciplinary since his emergence onto the scene. He first made his mark as a creative director for Kanye West, but has never seemed to stay in one lane. He then interned at Fendi, launched the short-lived Pryex Vision, and DJ’d his way onto stages around the world as a member of the Been Trill collective. All of those projects, however, came and went quickly as Abloh moved onto bigger ventures like Off-White, Louis Vuitton, solo DJing, and endless collaborations. 2019 served as a microcosm of Virgil’s career, where he took on so many different projects that the man became even more difficult to succinctly define, both occupationally and at a macro level, as his impact on popular culture as a whole only continued to broaden. 

Here’s a look at the variety of different roles and ventures Abloh took on in 2019, as we attempt to nail down the ever-changing creative.

Fashion Designer

Photo: Fashion United

If you’re only partially familiar with Abloh, you probably know him from his work at Louis Vuitton and Off-White, where he released no less than a dozen collections combined during 2019. While he was busy with his high-end lines, Abloh also dropped tons of tradition streetwear apparel and accessories during 2019. The highlights included Off-White x Simpsons in January, a collaboration with Evian in February, merch commemorating his MCA exhibition in May & June, women’s running gear with Nike in June, Off-White x Undercover in September, more Figures of Speech gear in November, and a final capsule of women’s Nike running gear in December. It’s hard to imagine Abloh ever sleeping during 2019. 


Photo: DJ Tech Tools

Abloh has had a storied career in music, first working with Kanye West on Watch The Throne as an artistic director. He then founded the Been Trill collective in 2012, which also included Heron Preston and Matthew Williams (who aren’t doing bad themselves). Following the abandonment of Been Trill, Abloh has opted for DJing events by himself. According to Songkick, he DJ’d over a dozen different events in 2019 including Coachella, Melt Festival, and Movement (which was right here in Detroit). It’s tough to imagine Abloh having time for these events, yet he makes it work. True to his undefinable nature, he could be found playing bangers at an opening for Travis Scott, or blasting a trance-inducing techno set at Movement.   

Sneaker Designer

Photo: Sneaker Freaker

Nike’s original “The Ten” collection with Abloh in November, 2017 may have marked his emergence onto the mainstream scene, well before his appointment at Louis Vuitton made him a household name. In 2019, he picked up right where he left off in 2018 with over a dozen new Off-White Nike models, including two new Air Max 90s, three Terra Kigers, the MCA AF1, three Vapor Streets, three Waffle Racers, and three Dunk Lows


Photo: New York Times

The term “artist” is a catch all term. It can refer to musicians, performers, traditional painters, sculptors, and more. Abloh embodied this term in the traditional sense in 2019, launching his first gallery exhibition at the MCA in Chicago in June. The exhibition later traveled to the High Museum in Atlanta, and marked Abloh’s first organized public display of his sculptures, paintings, and more. As is custom with any Abloh project, the exhibition came with a slew of new merch and accessories, including two hardcover books commemorating the show. Unrelated to the MCA exhibition, Abloh released a sculpture with Swiss furniture manufacturer Vitra. The sculpture is a ceramic cinder block painted orange, and at the time of this writing carried an average resale price of $330 despite a retail of just $140. Anything this man touched in 2019 turned to gold. 

Home Goods & Furniture Designer

Photo: Paper City Magazine

Perhaps his most democratic release in 2019, Abloh teamed up with Swedish furniture and design powerhouse IKEA for a 16-piece collection of furniture and home goods. The collection, which was priced affordably and stocked at every IKEA location on the globe, led to long lines and bustling crowds at normally serene stores. The collection sold out quickly, resulting in many of the items becoming top selling products in our collectibles category. While Abloh isn’t traditionally viewed as a designer in this sense, his background in architecture and the success of this collaboration could certainly lead to similar projects for him in 2020 and beyond.

So who is Virgil Abloh?

Abloh is certainly all of the above – a Fashion Designer, DJ, Sneaker Designer, Artist, and Home Goods/Furniture Designer. While the ebbs and flows of which area he focuses on changing seemingly daily, one thing is for sure – Abloh is a creative. He executes on seemingly every idea that comes to mind, whether it’s a sneaker or a sculpture. Who knows what’s in store for 2020, but as usual, StockX will have you covered on all his best drops of the year. So buckle up, because we’re in for another wild ride.