Why 2017 Should Go Down as 'The Year of Virgil Abloh'

The Off-White designer accomplished and collaborated on more in the past 12 months than many do throughout their entire careers. Here, we break down the highlights.
By Alyssa Vingan Klein ,

Photo: Nike

Every time Virgil Abloh sits on a panel or gives an interview — both of which occur frequently these days — he's half-jokingly asked how he finds the hours in the day to complete his steady stream of projects. The 37-year-old designer, creative director, DJ and visionary is easily among the most sought after talents in the industry, and aside from inspiring a whole new generation of streetwear fanatics to follow their fashion dreams, he's completely won over the luxury space as well, thanks to his critically and commercially successful collections for Off-White. In fact, his Milan-based label was a finalist for the LVMH Prize in 2015, and Abloh's name was tossed around as a possible frontrunner for the creative director positions at legacy houses Givenchy and Versace, though rumors were swiftly shut down. 

Beyond his work at Off-White, Abloh's emerged as a prolific collaborator, and in 2017 alone, he's teamed up with the likes of Nike, Warby Parker, Levi's and Jimmy Choo on much-hyped products in a wide range of price points. This accessibility is what helped skyrocket him to celebrity status, as is his commitment to educating young people through lectures at Harvard, Columbia and RISD, and his dedication to furthering "the culture" by fostering authentic, unique, up-and-coming metropolitan voices in the worlds of music, art, design and more. Abloh's been recognized for his achievements in a very public forum: he was nominated for this year's Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent at the CFDAs, took home the coveted Footwear News "Shoe of the Year" award, was selected as a special guest at Pitti Uomo in Florence for Spring 2018 and, most recently, was honored by GQ Australia with the "International Designer Award."

If Abloh's lack of sleep doesn't get the best of him, we're betting that the year ahead will be just as fruitful for him (if not more so) than the last. Because the designer accomplished and collaborated on more over the past 12 months than many do throughout their entire careers, we broke down the highlights, proving that 2017 should certainly go down in history as "The Year of Virgil Abloh." Never stop never stopping, fam.

'The Ten' Nike Icons by Virgil Abloh

Photo: Nike

In perhaps one of the most hyped sneaker collaborations of all time, Abloh put his collaborative spin on 10 classic Nike footwear silhouettes — the Air Jordan I, the Air Max 90, the Air Presto and the Air VaporMax among them — for a collection that helped him live out his childhood design dreams. Unsurprisingly, these shoes were next to impossible to get despite being released in a series of drops, with hypebeasts and resellers the world over clamoring to cop the limited-edition goods. 

Off-White x Warby Parker

Photo: Warby Parker

This summer, Abloh partnered with Warby Parker on three bold, black styles of fashion-forward frames — "Small Sunglasses," "Medium Sunglasses" and "Large Sunglasses" — that retailed for $95 each (but looked Céline-level expensive). If you blinked, you missed them, as they sold out almost immediately.

Off-White x IKEA

Photo: Ikea

In June, the internet exploded when Abloh revealed a redesign of the iconic blue Ikea Frakta bag (the same blue, nylon tote that Demna Gvasalia was inspired by at Balenciaga), and it was later confirmed that he will collaborate with the Swedish company on an affordable range of home design objects for millennials' first homes, expected to launch in 2019. Previews included a prototype of a Persian-style rug emblazoned with the words "KEEP OFF" in signature Off-White quotation marks, which we expect will replace "Scarface" posters as the most popular decorative item in male dorm rooms as soon as they're available.

Off-White x Jimmy Choo 

Photo: Imaxtree

Abloh debuted a ladylike collaboration with Jimmy Choo on his Spring 2018 runway in Paris to accent the collection inspired by the late Princess Diana. Styles included pumps wrapped in clear plastic (a la rain slickers), white high-heeled boots that Rihanna wore just days after the show and a pair of white sneakers that the designer decorated with a hand-drawn Nike swoosh.

Off-White x Levi's

Photo: Off-White

Abloh put his streetwise spin on denim wardrobe staples for an 11-piece collaboration with Levi's Made & Crafted this year that flew off of the shelves despite its luxury price point. 

New York City Ballet Fall Gala Costumes by Virgil Abloh

The NYCB enlisted an impressive crew of designers to create costumes for its 2017 gala, and Abloh was among them, alongside Fernando Garcia and Laura Kim of Monse and Oscar de la Renta and Jonathan Saunders. This year's group was handpicked by none other than Sarah Jessica Parker, who serves as the vice chair of the NYCB's board of directors.

Off White x Umbro


Abloh's flannel shirts created in collaboration with Umbro have already ascended to cult collector status, but this year, the must-have item was the Off-White update to the classic Coach sneaker — a staple of the British sportswear brand.

Off-White x KITH

Photo: Off-White

It's rare that streetwear and sneaker emporium Kith doesn't have a line of shoppers stretching around the block, but perhaps its most buzzed-about drops of the year were the retailer's March and October capsule collections in collaboration with Off-White. Entitled "Off-Palette" and "Just Global," the limited-edition pieces incorporated one-off graphics and exclusive designs only available through Kith's online shop and in select stores. Those who missed out on the release can easily find the goods on the resale market, where T-shirts are priced starting at around $350.

Off-White x Lil Uzi Vert

Photo: Lil Uzi Vert

Once known primarily for his role as Kanye West's creative director, Abloh is a huge fixture in the music world. In 2017 alone, he helped create limited-edition merch for Travis Scott's "Bird's Eye View Tour," Kid Cudi's "Passion, Pain and Demon Slayin' Tour" and Yams Day memorial T-shirts for A$AP Mob's AWGE collective. However, his most notable design collaboration in this space was with breakout rapper Lil Uzi Vert, who enlisted Abloh to direct his "XO Tour Llif3" music video and create the cover art for his "Luv Is Rage 2" album. The Off-White branding is more prominently displayed on the album cover than the artist's name itself, which is a pretty major flex.

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