The global series began its journey earlier this year in Paris, followed by New York and Tokyo. Its debut in Sydney is of great significance since the unexpected death of Abloh on November 28, aged 41.
Sydney’s edition of “Walk in the Park” is a perfect mix of travels, street culture and savoir-faire. The residency celebrates Abloh’s creativity and legacy, including a 7.5-metre 3D sculpture of Abloh, prominently featured in the space and replicas of a few of the models that walked in his shows.
“Walk in the Park” is rooted in the inclusive values at the heart of Abloh’s work and expresses the mutual connectivity that existed between the designer and his community. It also showcases his upcycled sneakers, a sustainable ideology created by Abloh as part of the Spring Summer 2021 collection, where sneakers are crafted entirely from upcycled LV trainer material.
The latest LV trainer upcycling collection is now available, including an exclusive Sydney colourway issued in a total of 100 pairs. Other exclusive items include a pair of 1.1 Millionaire sunglasses in purple and a very meaningful monogram kite that featured in Abloh’s first and last shows.
In a tribute to Abloh, Louis Vuitton will donate a portion of sales from items to The Song Room, an Australian charity dedicated to supporting Australia’s most disadvantaged children with tailored, high-quality music and arts programs that are delivered in partnership with schools across the country.
A multi-faceted creative, Abloh had a penchant for disrupting the status quo, breaking through traditional fashion norms and proving that if he can do it, anyone can do it too.
Abloh gave new meaning to the term “designer”, using grammar to highlight the ironies in fashion, imposing uppercase words in quotation marks to the luxury world, which was initially widely criticised and misunderstood. However, as the world got to know this outlier and delved deeper into Abloh’s design ethos, we were soon immersed in thought-provoking ideals fashion desperately needed to confront.
Considered the most influential black designer in fashion, as people learned of his passing, the words ‘Rest in Power’ spread like wildfire across social media. His rise to stardom was due to his enduring curiosity and ingenious creativity that spanned architecture, art and fashion. Abloh inherently wove together cultural threads into his interdisciplinary endeavors. He was just as much a sociologist as he was a designer.
During a podcast with musical artist Pharrell Williams earlier this year, Abloh shared what drove his motivation as a creative: “There’s one level of the work and that’s designing at Louis, but my real job is to make sure that like six young black designers take my job after me.”
The space between
Abloh’s foray into streetwear began in 2012 through his brand Pyrex Vision, taking discounted clothing from Champion and Polo and adding bold branded graphics and reselling them for hundreds of dollars. It was a monumental experiment to insert a cult label known to the rap and hip hop community between heritage brands and their unwanted products. He courageously pushed the boundaries of the industry, while building a huge community of loyal fans.
Understandably, Pyrex Vision didn’t last long. The grey area of selling upcycled products off the back of major brands ruffled too many feathers. However, this paved the way for Abloh to iterate, launching his soon-to-be-cult brand Off-White soon after. The brand started to make headlines in 2013 causing a tidal wave throughout luxury fashion. Off-White’s austere tees, oversized hoodies, flannel shirts and distressed denim at premium prices were a shock to the luxury sector. It was an audacious brand created by an influential black designer, straddling streetwear culture and luxury fashion.
Off-White quickly became the most recognisable streetwear brand with its diagonal stripes, industrial aesthetic and quotations. From there, Off-White collaborations emerged with the likes of Nike, Heron Preston, Levi’s, Moncler, Jimmy Choo, Champion, Timberland, Moët & Chandon and Ikea to name just a few.
Ascent into luxury
As Off-White gained immense popularity, so did Abloh’s involvement with men’s luxury fashion. During an interview in 2017 hosted by Show Studio, Abloh described Kim Jones, Louis Vuitton’s men’s artistic director at the time, as a friend and mentor.
“The designer that I always wanted in the modern industry is Kim Jones. When we’re talking about a common phrase, high fashion and streetwear, that’s him,” he said.
Abloh continued: “We found someone in the industry before they used the term “streetwear” in luxury, he was practicing that, bringing forth street culture ideas through the high fashion system.”
The two met backstage in 2007 at the 15th anniversary of Bathing Ape, a well- known Japanese streetwear brand which started in 1993. While Abloh was building Off-White, he remained close with Jones to learn as much as he could about luxury men’s fashion.
When Jones left Louis Vuitton in 2018, Abloh took his place to continue the significant impact that Jones had made by merging the two subcultures. Between 2018 and 2021, Abloh took the men’s collection to new heights, sharing with the world an aesthetic worthy of the youth of today.
Abloh leaves behind hope, courage and ambition, instilled in young people of colour. His determination in refusing to accept this is the way things have always been done. The modern age designer’s ethos will reverberate around fashion, art and culture for generations to come.
Louis Vuitton’s “Walk in the Park” is a timely exhibition to honour and appreciate Abloh’s contribution to design and luxury streetwear.