Why Did Virgil Abloh Sell Off-White to LVMH?
Virgil Abloh, the founder and CEO of Off-White, has died at 41 of cancer and, earlier this year, the fashion designer sold his Milian-based luxury streetwear brand to French conglomerate, LVMH.
As part of the agreement, Abloh, one of the few Black designers helming a majority French fashion house—as artistic director of Louis Vuitton's menswear ready line—remained at Louis Vuitton, while LVMH got a 60 per cent stake in Off-White.
LVMH's decision to buy the streetwear brand marked a change for the luxury goods company as Abloh's street-smart fashion, diverse background and pop culture influences served as a contrast to other LVMH-backed brands, which are considered more "traditional" and rooted in European heritage.
Off-White stands out among traditional luxury brands because of its streetwear roots—and the move furthered the confluence of streetwear and high fashion. The sale made Abloh one of the most powerful Black executives in the luxury fashion industry.
The prolific designer, who received no formal fashion training, drew on his engineering and architecture background. His collaborations were instant hits whether it was with Nike, Ikea, Mercedes Benz or Rimowa. At the time, Abloh said he hoped that the partnership with LVMH would develop Off-White into a "truly multi-line luxury brand", allowing it to dive into other ventures beyond fashion. He added his new role would help foster greater diversity in the luxury fashion industry.
The arrangement was the latest in a series of LVMH purchases as the industry heavyweight continues its expansion—it bought Tiffany last year and will also be having a minority stake in Phoebe Philo's new eponymous brand. LVMH also just recently opened La Samaritaine, a renovated luxury department and is set to open the high-end Cheval Blanc hotel in addition to a Dior spa later this year.
This article was originally published on October 7, 2021 and was updated on November 29, 2021.