The latest tragedy to rock the fashion industry is the untimely death of Virgil Abloh, the founder of luxury fashion label, Off-White, and artistic director of designer brand, Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection since 2018. Unbeknownst to many, Abloh has been privately battling an aggressive form of cancer for the past two years. The news of his passing has shocked followers all over the world, and crippled the industry he dedicated his life to. Abloh was a force to be reckoned with, and a true visionary in every right. His artistry has inspired and awakened a lot of other creatives to pursue their passion. He lived a remarkable life, albeit short, and the impact he left in this world will surpass generations, as it remains to be timeless. Here are five life lessons we learned from the passing of Virgil Abloh:
5. There is nothing more precious than time
It’s true when they say that time is a scarce resource. The 24-hours we have in a day may be limited, but this does not mean that we can’t make the most out of the time we are given. Abloh entered the world of global fashion through an internship at Fendi in 2009, alongside Kanye West, and the rest was history. Abloh’s time on earth was also limited, but he was able to seize the moment, and leave behind a legacy unlike any other. Being the first African-American to be an artistic director at a French luxury fashion house are big shoes to fill, and one that won’t be replaced anytime soon.
4. Money should not be your end goal
Abloh was famously remembered to have said, “My general premise is not about selling clothes. If that’s your end goal, then all of a sudden everything looks the same, you know — you start designing by numbers.” He believed in being able to freely express creative freedom above all else. If you are passionate with what you’re doing, the money will automatically follow. There are a lot of other ways to measure success apart from monetarily. Anybody pursing a goal or dream can feel a greater sense of pressure if money is seen as an end goal. It should instead be perceived as a bonus you get for your hard work and grit. Following this kind of mindset can help you achieve success more organically, as your actions are not purely dictated by an ulterior motive.
3. Dare to be different
If there is one thing that Abloh showed us, it is to not conform to industry standards. It pays off to think out of the box, and to not be afraid to do your own thing. Abloh’s achievements could be credited to the risks he took, and the transformative choices he made. This is evident in the collections he released that allowed him to integrate street wear with luxury clothing. Staying in your comfort zone may make you feel safe, but it certainly limits your potential for growth. Sometimes, taking that leap of faith can change the entire narrative of your story. Do not be afraid to stumble and fall sometimes, as experience can be life’s best teacher.
2. Believe in yourself
It’s not easy being a game-changer in the cutthroat world of fashion. Many have tried, but a lot more have failed. Abloh did not let the pressures of the industry hinder his shot at success. He was relentless in his pursuit for perfection, which reflected in each fashion piece he brought to life. There’s a stark difference from being conceited and confident. Abloh was confident in his capabilities, and knew that he could change the world one design at a time. He was just a simple kid who was born to immigrant parents in Rockford, Illinois, who knew how to turn his dreams into reality. It is so important to believe in yourself, and know that you can achieve great things if just put your heart into it.
1. Always look at the glass half full
It’s all about perspective. Abloh was able to survive the demands of the fashion industry with joy and optimism. He even remained to be an eternal optimist even while he was battling his deadly disease. He made sure to touch the lives of the people he met, and inspire those that he was able to collaborate with. It’s not every day you’re able to witness a person with such passion and intensity as Abloh. When news of his demise broke out, people started sharing Abloh’s personal messages to them. This just goes to show how many lives he was able to touch, and how he will be remembered for time immemorial.
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