Photo: PHILIPPE LOPEZ/AFP via Getty Images
Virgil Abloh, founder of the label Off-White and Louis Vuitton’s current menswear artistic director, was taken to task by Twitter this weekend after he lamented the looting taking place during this weekend’s protest against police brutality in black communities. His comments, combined with a tweet of him donating only $50 to Miami-based organization Fempower for protestors’ legal fees, had social media convinced Abloh didn’t have his priorities straight when it came to what, exactly, is lamentable about the ongoing Black Lives Matter protests, born out of the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis by police last week. In an Instagram essay Monday, however, the luxury designer apologized for how his comments came across, adding that he has donated over $20,500 to the cause.
“Case & point # 81 why I said ‘streetwear’ is dead,” Abloh said in one of his posts this weekend, alongside a video of L.A. store Round Two being looted. “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,” he commented under a post by Round Two owner Sean Wotherspoon. “We’re a part 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.”
Next to an image of a broken door at Chicago’s RSVP Gallery, he remarked, “Today that same community robbed us. If that heals your pain, you can have it …” Twitter was quick to share their response to Abloh’s outrage and small donation, and the designer’s name was even edited on Wikipedia, though it has since been changed back.
On Instagram, the designer now reflects at length about his experience as a black man and an immigrant, as well as on his remarks. “As many have said, buildings are brick and mortar and material things can be replaced, people can’t. Black lives matter. In this moment, those other things don’t,” the designer says. “People who criticize ‘looting’ often do so as a way to make it seem like our fight against injustice isn’t legitimate. I did not realize the ways my comments accidentally contributed to that narrative. As mentioned yesterday, if looting eases pain and furthers the overall mission, it is within good standing with me.”
And as for that donation, followers pointed out the price point of Off-White far outstrips $50. According to Abloh, he gets where they’re coming from. “I can understand your frustration if you think my contribution were limited to $50,” he writes. “Purely false when it comes to the total. I have donated $20,500 to bail funds and other causes related to this movement.” Says the designer, “I will continue to donate more and will continue to use my voice to urge my peers to do the same.” You can read his entire post below.
Virgil Abloh Apologizes Following Protest Comments Backlash