The Life of Abloh
Virgil Abloh will never fade away.
One of the reasons there are so many posts on the HIDDEN account is to own the feed. Instead of trying to cheat or beat any algorithm, it’s easier to just force your way into a conversation.
The point is to take over people’s eyeballs through sheer dedication to the timeline, knowing that while not every post will resonate with every user, there’s going to be a few that connect with people on a deeper level. Of course, the curation of the visual universe is apparent, and while the aesthetic isn’t totally random, the mission is still to simultaneously exist in the past, present, and future.
Virgil Abloh did that in real life. His omniscience made him impossible to ignore. He took over our feeds, owned the hype cycle, and turned the fashion industry upside down. He revolutionized the way we think about making products and creating collaborations, simplifying the math to just: “I create; you pay.”
Truth be told, the way he lived his life and dedicated himself to putting out as much work as possible was one of the biggest inspirations for HIDDEN. He was always looking to push new talent, and like many others he discovered this little account on Instagram and encouraged it to “write our culture into their history books.”
One of the deepest YouTube cuts is a 2006 video from Midwestern Goodness where Virgil, clad in the classic gold foil G.O.O.D. Music T-shirt, gives people a tour of Chicago’s hip Bucktown neighborhood. He’s credited as being part of Fort Home and The Brilliance. The latter is a blog founded by Benjamin Edgar Gott and Chuck Anderson where Virgil became a prolific collaborator, and the former is an early project that Gott described as a way for Virgil to do “pop-up concept shop-esque things with his friends.”
Most of the spots he takes people through are still open today. There’s streetwear shop Saint Alfred, Uprise Skateshop, Quimbys indie bookstore, and the only one that closed: Hejfina, a concept fashion store in the vein of other Chicago stores like Apartment Number 9. This was still a few years before RSVP Gallery opened, but the video does feature some cameos from Chicago heads like Jamar Eaton, who back then went by Shannon Sangster and had a line called Fresh & Proper.
It’s incredible to think how well the content has aged despite the many ways it could seem dated. But it’s a testament to the way Virgil always lived between many worlds, and was very much the glue that held seemingly disparate ones together. Out of all these different universes, he combined them to make his own.
His work in the 2010s building Pyrex Vision and Been Trill showed us how to start from nothing. He never kept his methods a secret and laid out the blueprint of how to gain access into the gated community of fashion. One of the most fun posts to write for this newsletter was an article breaking down each and every aspect of the Virgil Abloh-verse™, a precious resource that too few people are taking advantage of. He literally wrote the Cliffs Notes version of how to start a brand.
It’s crazy to think that just last week, Virgil Abloh was everywhere. He was on a plane, he was on someone’s story, he was announcing seven new projects while simultaneously unveiling one. His digital and physical omnipresence makes his absence all the more palpable. What happens when something you thought would be a constant presence all of a sudden just disappears?
During his 41 years on this planet, Virgil Abloh gave the world more than most established cultural institutions. In his honor, we as a community should open up to others. If you like somebody’s work: Let them know. If you have the opportunity to give guidance: Offer it. Aim to inspire your peers and work together to create a better industry. After all…Virgil Abloh is everywhere.