Virgil Abloh is facing accusations of plagiarism once again.
The Off-White founder and Louis Vuitton Men’s creative director has issued a response after renowned Belgian designer Walter Van Beirendonck accused him of copying his designs in Louis Vuitton’s recent collection.
In an official statement, which was obtained by multiple media outlets, Abloh called Van Beirendonck’s claims “completely false” and a “hate-filled attempt to discredit” his work.
“The inspiration for my collection comes from the DNA of Louis Vuitton, including the 2005 Louis Vuitton menswear show, and it was clearly outlined in the notes distributed to the press when the show began,” read the statement. “This is yet another instance of false equivalence to try to discredit me as a designer.”
Rapper and designer Kanye West — who maintains a close friendship with Abloh and served as his former creative partner — also came to the designer’s defense. On Tuesday night, he wrote on Twitter, “Virgil can do whatever he wants. Do you know how hard it’s been for us to be recognized?”
According to Van Beirendonck, who also heads the fashion department at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts Antwerp, Abloh’s spring ’21 line — which presented live in Shanghai last Thursday — imitated multiple aspects of his own lines, including one men’s suit in particular that featured a figure sewed to the front of the coat. In the Instagram post, in which he tagged fashion industry watchdog Diet Prada, Van Beirendonck’s design was seen in red, while Abloh’s was in blue.
A series of images shared on Instagram also showed other Van Beirendonck designs juxtaposed with those of Abloh. In another photo, he posted an image with the words “I hate fashion copycats” in appliqué on the center of a shirt. “Please get your own concept,” he captioned the post.
In an interview last Friday with Belgian publication Knack Weekend, Van Beirendonck said, “It’s very clear that Virgil Abloh is not a designer. He has no language of his own, no vision. He can’t create something of his own season after season, and that is painful.”
Last March, Abloh found himself embroiled in controversy after Diet Prada claimed he might have plagiarized creations from two promising streetwear designers. The account took to Instagram to share a yellow-graffitied suit and a green graphic on a black sweater from Off-White’s fall ’19 men’s show that bore resemblance to styles by independent brands Colrs and Gramm, respectively.
In 2018, Abloh became one of the first Black men to helm a global luxury brand following his appointment as artistic director of Louis Vuitton Men’s. Beyond Off-White, he also owns the brand Pyrex Vision and serves as creative director of West’s company Donda.
FN has reached out to both Abloh’s and Van Beirendonck’s teams for comment.