By: Morgan Smith (@muvamorgs)
The name “Virgil Abloh” is a name some may be just learning about and a name some may already know. Introduced into the industry by rapper and designer Kanye West, the Off-White designer’s name is becoming a common one with his successful year in the industry. Virgil Abloh’s recent achievements include appointment as the Louis Vuitton’s menswear creative director, dressing Serena Williams for the US Open, and momentous collaborations with Nike and Ikea. Diversity has been a big topic in the fashion industry and Virgil has made it known through his work that everything is meant to discuss race and promote diversity. But what about his actual Off-White staff?
Recently, fans of Virgil Abloh and his Off-White brand took to social media to express their disappointments with the lack of diversity amongst the staff at an Off-White staff party. Pictures from Virgil’s story include photos of the 136 employees that made up the staff enjoying themselves at the “Christmas in April” function. Fan comments included “not gonna lie I thought Virgil Abloh would have some black people working with him but I’m not surprised” and “Virgil Abloh has 136 members of staff and not one of them are black, that’s a bit odd to me”.
Virgil himself released a statement in response to the recent criticisms on diversity amongst his Off-White staff. In a quote from his design representatives and himself, it states:
“My design team is diverse as the world is big. The video shown was an Off-White ™ dinner at the headquarters in the city of Milan, Italy. This party was to celebrate the hard work of the local Italian team.
Additionally, he and his team also explained:
“When questioned about diversity, Virgil Abloh takes pride in being African and American. His design team is diverse, and his practice has been built on making the art and design industry an inclusive community. Fellow designers like Samuel Ross, Heron Preston, No Vacancy Inn – by Tremaine Emory and Acyde Odunlami, Everard Best, Photographer Fabien Montique, amongst many others have been given a platform via Off-White ™. These are just a few of the many global voices and people sitting at the table and helping evolve the brand. Off-White ™ is a black founded and owned business.”
“He wishes to use this moment of being questioned to be a moment of reflection within the industry to showcase the talents behind their design entities and push to have a design community that represents the outside world.”
To further support his notions and the statements above, he posted pictures on his story of ethnic models, designers, and other creatives he has worked with in the past. He also received support from other fans, staff, and designers who believe that Virgil successfully upholds diversity in the fashion industry.