Off-White Philippines Pays Tribute to Virgil Abloh With a Powerful Installation
In late November, fashion lovers and streetwear enthusiasts mourned the loss of Virgil Abloh. The visionary designer behind Off-White and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection tragically passed away after a two-year battle with cardiac angiosarcoma cancer. He was 41 years old.
All over the world, Abloh’s friends, colleagues, admirers, and of course, the labels he once helmed, paid tribute to the industry powerhouse in a variety of ways. In the U.S. a Louis Vuitton fashion show turned into a moving tribute for the designer just days after his passing. Meanwhile, streetwear label Off-White honored Abloh, too. Their outposts in London, Hong Kong, Paris, Seoul, New York, and Tokyo removed merchandise off the shelves to make room for flowers in memory of him. Here in Metro Manila,The UNIVERS Group—the Philippines' exclusive Off-White distributor—followed suit with a floral installation outside their store at Greenbelt 3 in Makati City.
At Off-White’s newly opened store in Greenbelt 3, the words "VIRGIL FOREVER" are displayed on a large art piece installed right outside the entrance, commemorating Abloh's vast contributions to the fashion world, and particularly to streetwear. "He paved the way for fashion to be more inclusive and relevant, said The UNIVERS Group president Jappy Gonzalez, remembering the impact of the late designer. "He pioneered a cultural movement that brought people together. His legacy and contributions will never be forgotten." The installation is adorned with hundreds of sunflowers in memory of Abloh and in line with the tributes put up at Off-White stores across the globe.
The sign outside Off-White Greenbelt is in commemoration not only of Abloh as a person, but also his design sensibilities—the all-caps font and quotation marks reference the signature text style used on Off-White clothing—a symbol of the ironic detachment that had been a key element in Abloh’s work.
Abloh launched his first collection under Off-White in 2014. It made waves in the fashion industry, introducing a norm of collaboration and cross-cultural synthesis. The designer has collaborated with artists like A$AP Rocky, Kid Cudi, Playboi Carti, and Takashi Murakami as well as world-famous brand—both in and out of fashion and both luxury and mass-market—like Nike and IKEA.
In 2018, Abloh was appointed as Louis Vuitton’s men’s artistic director—a landmark moment in the fashion world. His new role not only paved the way for one of the most important crossovers between streetwear and luxury, but also introduced more diversity into luxury fashion, marking Abloh's status as both a trailblazer and pioneer.
As British Vogue editor Edward Enninful put it, The Guardian reports, "Virgil Abloh changed the fashion industry. Famously prolific, he always worked for a greater cause than his own illustrious career: to open the door to art and fashion for future generations, so that they— unlike himself —would grow up in a creative world with people to mirror themselves in."