Abloh chases originality as he celebrates his 28th birthday

For anyone who believes design is synonymous with traditional boundaries, and that fashion is divided between those who leave fashion in the past and those who choose to keep it there, Virgil Abloh is a breath of fresh air.

After leaving Off-White in a huff, the young designer sent models down the runway in shirts that spelled out words such as MCB, OWA, MONEY, SAT. He’s paired the random garments with his own personal collage of films and musicians from Nick Cave to Abloh’s friend Scott Brown.

Rather than sticking to ideas that have already been done or done well, Abloh and his partners at AM72 (the graphic-design and programming division of parent Comme des Garçons) always want to come up with new combinations of elements that are themselves different. This approach has made Abloh a driving force of the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund, which has named him Designer of the Year for three years.

The moment is still early and there’s so much to do that right now, Abloh couldn’t be more enthusiastic. “The sky is the limit,” he said recently. “To create a different kind of culture.”

And just as his style may defy stereotypes, so, too, has Abloh’s approach to his career. “Who I am is pretty irrelevant,” he said. “Why does that even matter? The objective for me is to create art. My personal journey to independence is none of your business.”

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