Off-White Virgil Abloh has responded to social media criticism that his Off-White design team lacks diversity. The issue surfaced when Abloh posted Instagram Stories images from a work-related party at the brand’s headquarters in Milan.
Abloh founded Off-White in 2013 after shuttering his New York-based label Pyrex Vision. In March 2018, he was announced as the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and is the first black person at LVMH to hold a lead creative role. Prior to launching his label he was a creative director at Donda, Kanye West’s creative agency.
Abloh sent out two press statements. The first one reads: “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.”
A second statement sent to Hypebeast reads: “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.”
In addition to the statements, Abloh posted a series of images of black creatives he’s worked with and mentored, including Heron Preston, Samuel Ross (who was once his assistant), Tremaine Emory, Playboi Carti, Serena Williams, Andre Walker, and Fabien Montique.
While not listed, Off-White today launched a collaborative collection with Ev Bravado, a label designed by Brooklyn-born, black designer Everard Best.
Several designers also weighed in on the controversy, including Emory, Chicago-based Joe Fresh Goods and (B)Stroy designers Brick Owens and Dieter Grams .