Sure there have been whisperings for months, but it wasn’t a foregone conclusion. Might Virgil Abloh be seduced instead by Burberry or Versace? Would there be room for the personalities of Abloh and Nicolas Ghesquière — if not in one room then at least in one house? Was there a danger Abloh’s myriad collaborations might have rendered him overexposed?
Far from it. Abloh’s appointment as new artistic director of Louis Vuitton Homme makes sense on so many levels, and his penchant for collaborating is at the top of the list.
In fact, as the Off-White designer told The New York Times last night, “I think of it as kind of the ultimate collaboration. In a way, all of my output has been to make a compelling case for me to take on a role such as this.”
For the record, this “output” takes in Nike, Jimmy Choo, Byredo, The Sunglasses Hut, Takashi Murakami at the Gagosian Gallery and Le Bon Marche. There’s even a custom-colored, cobranded blue water with Paris’ hippest deli chain, Wild & the Moon. This year will also see partnerships with Ikea and Rimowa. Alongside Le Bon Marche, the luxury luggage label is also part of the LVMH stable.
Here are four reasons the LV x Virgil partnership is the ultimate collaboration:
BELIEVE THE HYPE
The hype generated by Kim Jones’ 2017’s collaboration with streetwear label Supreme demonstrated its power of association for a luxury brand. The partnership with Off-White’s creative director will doubtless continue to build on that momentum. Don’t forget that the partnership was actually instigated by Louis Vuitton president and CEO Michael Burke, who was ultimately responsible for hiring Abloh.
ALL ABOUT THE KIDS
Just like James Jebbia’s Supreme, Abloh’s Off-White label has a younger, hipper demographic than that of luxury stalwart Vuitton — an audience ripe for picking, ready and waiting to be assimilated into the Vuitton fold. For those with deeper pockets, this is likely to be more imminent, but others, such as those buying into Abloh’s lower-priced For All line, will grow into it as their spending power increases.
NIKE NIKE NIKE
Let’s factor in Abloh’s own The Ten collaboration with sportswear giant Nike. Although many attributed the overcrowding situation outside last month’s Paris Off-White show to the latter’s own popularity, that was only half the story. It was compounded by an excited overspill from a secret drop of Abloh’s Air Jordan 1 collab that took place just around the corner. But either way, with the designer’s Nike connections, the prospect of a Louis Vuitton x Nike partnership isn’t beyond the realm of possibility.
THREE’S A TREND
Abloh’s heading up Vuitton Homme completes the LVMH group’s menswear triumvirate: along with Kim Jones at Dior Homme and Hedi Slimane’s eagerly anticipated launch of the category at Celine. It also assures the group’s hegemony in a market that is growing at 4.8 percent a year from 2015 and is expected to reach $522.3 billion by 2020, according to a report by Technavio.