Off-White designer Virgil Abloh has spent today (June 1, 2020) trending on Twitter for his reaction to the Saturday night looting in Los Angeles that took place following demonstrations in response to George Flyod’s murder at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer last week.
While multiple designers have expressed empathy with the dynamics leading to the looting of retailers, Abloh reacted with anger and criticized the individuals who broke into and stole from Round Two, a Los Angeles vintage shop co-owned by Sean Wotherspoon.
While Abloh’s was attempting to emphasize how the looting reflected the breakdown of streetwear as a culture and a community, not surprisingly given the nuance of the topic and lack of clarity over what streetwear is, his views were widely interpreted as an attack on an activist movement to . His reaction was viewed as particularly tone deaf given Abloh is now the head designer for Louis Vuitton menswear.
If Abloh’s comments on Round Two weren’t enough, he was also criticized for making a what was viewed as a paltry $50 contribution to Fempower, a Miami-based organization providing bail money to jailed protesters.
The attacks on Abloh began in reaction to a now deleted comment posted under an Instagram image showing a boarded up Round Two store, where Abloh wrote, “This is fucked up. You see the passion blood sweat and tears Sean puts in for our culture. This disgusts me. To the kids that ransacked his store and RSVP DTLA, and all our stores in our scene just know, that product staring at you in your home/ apartment right now is tainted and a reminder of a person I hope you aren’t. We’re apart of a culture together. Is this what you want?? When you walk past him in the future please have the dignity to not look him in the eye, hang your head in shame…”
Abloh expanded on his thoughts on Instagram stories where he pointed to the destruction of Round Two as a reflection of why he stated streetwear is dead in an interview in December 2019.
Using “streetwear” and streetwear to make a distinction, Abloh wrote, “case & point # 81 why I said ‘streetwear’ is dead…Streetwear is a community. it’s a group of friends that have a common bond. we hang out on street corners, fight with each other, fight for each other.
“‘Streetwear’ is a detachment to the above. ‘Streetwear’ is yelling [at] shop staff, starting fights at lineups, defaming us because we didn’t get enough pairs of shoes cause everyone can’t get a pair. Streetwear is a group of friends that I’m surely was like, ‘C’mon guys, this is Sean’s store, we can’t treat him, like this, we know Sean…”
He added, “Streetwear is a culture. ‘Streetwear’ is a commondity. ‘Streetwear’ is I need this t-shirt or pairs of shoes…. by any means necessary….”
Making references that were no doubt lost on 99 percent of the people reading them, Abloh added “if you were offended when i said ‘streetwear’ was dead you can now begin to understand my point…if me and my friends tried to loot Alife, aNYthing, Prohibit, Union, etc. i would foresee a 40oz bottle hurling at my head along with it.”