American artist, designer, and business man Virgil Abloh of Comme des Garçons has died, according to sources. He was 41.
Formerly the creative director of Adidas Originals, Abloh started his career as a design assistant at Japanese shoe brand Yohji Yamamoto and went on to launch a denim label called Adam’s Vintage in 2005. Then, in 2015, he launched his eponymous label – a collection of new, youthful garments set against the backdrop of modernity – which he describes as “a sense of rejection and replacement” and is sold through the luxury online retailer Aritzia.
Abloh also found fame for linking himself with Kanye West to launch a clothing and accessories collection for Adidas in 2017. He has also worked closely with Young Thug and Travis Scott, and founded New York-based festival, Self-Titled, for people aged 19-26.
For his part, Abloh said it was strange being “one of the older artists” in a statement tweeted Saturday afternoon.
“I’ve had an amazing decade designing and creating, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to be able to do what I love at all,” he wrote. “I’ve found things within myself in my last few years that I never knew I had. I find myself inspired more each day…I’ll be taking a moment to reflect, and will see you back here soon.”
In 2012, Abloh launched the Fifth Surface as a project to address male white privilege, a statement he wrote after becoming frustrated at how he was portrayed in the press. He also furthered the conversation in his 2015 book Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage.
In 2013, Abloh landed as creative director of Adidas and then took over as the creative director of Reebok in late 2017. In an interview with Zizi Shimizu in March of 2017, he told the fashion industry she shouldn’t worry about the possibility of the brand separating from Hedi Slimane, saying, “We always tried to create the best possible representation of the figure, and therefore the stories of multiple archetypes are to come…we will achieve the story we have always sought.”
Abloh is survived by his wife, Raquel Swanson, and their son, Isaiah. A spokesperson for Adidas says the company “is deeply saddened by the news of Mr. Abloh’s passing, and sends its deepest condolences to his family and friends, including his colleagues and friends at Reebok and at the creative community he has so many admirers and successes.”
[h/t NY Daily News]
Photo credit: AARP