From Dj- ing to interning at Fendi with Kanye West, Virgil Abloh is a force to be reckoned with. Virgil Abloh established OFF WHITE, the Italian streetwear and luxury fashion label in Milan, Italy in 2012.He has collaborated with Nike and now he has been appointed the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s wear collection.
Why is Virgil’s appointment at Louis Vuitton significant?
Virgil is one of a few people of colour who has smashed the glass ceiling to reach the top in fashion.
Whatever your thoughts may be on Virgil’s journey so far, the impact of seeing a BAME person in a top position in fashion is no doubt a positive one. A role model for aspiring young minds who are not used to seeing a person from a similar background as them is a big deal. If he can do it surely anyone can?
Black representation in Britain
Just how big a deal is this then? So let’s look at the figures within Britain the lack of black representation in top roles is widely documented. Not only in the world of fashion, where Naomi Campbell, supermodel has time and again called out the fashion industry on lack of diversity and tokenism. We also see the same in other employment sectors such as senior management, academia, law and the list goes on.
The Guardian reports that in London alone the difference between a black graduate and a white graduate aged 16-24 getting into employment is vast. According to the ONS (office for national statistics UK) in a 2017 report, “the unemployment rate for recently graduated black male students aged 16-24 is 18% in comparison to white male students at 10% in the capital alone.”
Similarly the National Audit Office carried out recent research showing that along Pakistani and Bangladeshi women, black men have the lowest employment rates in the UK. These statistics are backed also by an interesting social experiment conducted by BBC Inside out London who sent out identical CV’s from two candidates, Adam and Mohammed to 100 jobs. Both candidates had the same skills, experience and qualifications. What do you think happened? Yes Adam was significantly more successful in obtaining a job interview with his profile! You can view the full video here.
So coming back to our boy Virgil Abloh, even seeing him in this role will undoubtedly speak volumes for black representation and bring hope for future generations. Colonisation and racial profiling have a lot to answer for here… Virgil keep smashing it and representing the BAME voice!
Check out Virgil’s first day at Louis Vuitton: