Early Sunday afternoon (Nov. 29th), the news of iconic fashion designer Virgil Abloh’s sudden passing became the topic of conversation and inspired tributes from all over the world. The 41-year-old Chicagoan rose to prominence as the founder of the streetwear company Off-White before becoming the head of Louis Vuitton’s menswear department in 2018. In doing so, Abloh made a name for himself by not only thriving in fashion but by successfully bringing his high sense of taste and creativity into other worlds via collaborations that created defining moments.
Down below are some of Abloh’s biggest moments in sports.
Although the pair had worked together before, the 2019 French Open was the most significant moment between Abloh and Williams. After sparking controversy because of her outfit at the previous year’s French Open (Williams donned a “Black-Panther”-inspired catsuit meant to surpass blood clots following the birth of her daughter), Williams reconnected with Abloh to make a bigger statement with her outfit this time around.
Stepping onto the court in a black and white Off-White two-piece outfit with “Mother, Champion, Queen, and Goddess” labeled across it, Williams silenced her critics by advancing out of the first round.
Although Abloh boasts a long resume full of massive achievements, the start of his relationship with Nike confirmed he had arrived. In 2017, Nike asked the Off-White founder to collaborate with them on a project called “The Ten,” in which Abloh redesigned ten of the company’s most popular sneakers.
Abloh’s redesign of the original Air Jordan 1’s became a massive cultural moment across sports and fashion, and its impact is still felt today. Besides being an all-time commercial success, the Off-White Air Jordan 1’s have been worn by Drake, Naomi Campbell, and Roger Federer, amongst many celebrities.
Two years into his stint as Louis Vuitton’s artistic director for their menswear, Abloh had the chance to showcase his love for basketball when the fashion giant partnered up with the NBA in November of 2020. In addition to designing several NBA-inspired pieces, Louis Vuitton would also create the league’s championship-holding case.
Abloh and Louis Vuitton veiled their new partnership center court at Madison Square Garden to celebrate this joyous occasion.
While Abloh initially made his inroads in the sporting world because of his passion for basketball and skateboarding, the proud Chicago, IL native also appreciated the sport of futbol. Leading up to the 2018 World Cup, Abloh’s Off-White label and Nike Football released their 1990’s inspired “Football, Mon Amour” collection.
“You know, I’ve been playing football since I was eight years old,” Abloh said in an interview three years ago. “It all comes from sport. I was one of those kids in high school that played every sport. I didn’t look at sport as individual games— everything was just a skill to learn and get better at. Football is probably the sport that I played the most all the way up through to college.”