A little over 10 years ago, Virgil Abloh, relatively fresh out of graduate school, visited my office in Tokyo while working with Kanye West. I had no way of recognizing the shy youth’s talents that were to blossom in the years to come.
Fast-forward to June 2017. Virgil visited my exhibition at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago the day before it opened and told me how he had been inspired by my multicolor monogram collaboration with Louis Vuitton. I proposed a collaboration between us, and we quickly realized our art exhibition at Gagosian London. Through our collaborative and creative process, I came to know the nobility of his character. Everything from the way he works to how he uses his time to how he makes his judgments is principled. The foundation of his value, or branding, is humanity itself, not a superficial trick.
Kids’ fervor for the stripe patterns and arrow marks he created for his fashion label, Off-White, is not a passing trend; rather, it shows how Virgil’s young followers, with their unclouded eyes, have been seeing right into the core of his creativity all along. With his appointment as artistic director for Louis Vuitton’s menswear, his full merit will be understood even more widely around the globe.
Murakami is an acclaimed Japanese artist