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From Hashtags to Monograms: The Journey of Virgil Abloh

By: Jack Wu

Within the last five years, the world of fashion has been greatly influenced by streetwear icon turned luxury mogul, Virgil Abloh. Abloh’s story begins in 2009, where he interned at Fendi with hip hop legend Kanye West. 



West had just collaborated with Louis Vuitton and came out with the highly coveted luxury sneakers, the Dons and Jaspers. West and Abloh grew so close that Kanye made Virgil the creative director of “Donda,” West’s creative agency. This connection was essential to the lift-off of Abloh’s brand.

Abloh named his first brand Pyrex 23. The nomenclature of his brand represents the struggle of living in poverty and how the only way to be successful was either to sell cocaine, Pyrex or to play basketball, 23. While the style of his clothes was simple, he was able to implement that in bold ways. He did this by printing Pyrex 23 in large letters on the back of his shirts. 

He made an insane amount of profit by using $40 polo shirts and flannels, printing on them, and selling for upwards of $500. This was just the beginning of his hustle mentality being put on display. 

While he started up Pyrex 23, Abloh collaborated with the likes of Heron Preston and Matthew Williams to produce Been Trill. The theme of the brand was centralized around the iconic hashtag that was popular with many Tumblr users during the early 2010s. Abloh used this to his advantage by printing anything and everything with hashtags and charging a premium for all of his clothing. 

Recruiting Nick Knight to make a powerful video featuring “Been Trill’s” collection only



did wonders for the brand’s exposure. Both Been Trill and Pyrex 23 had prolific but short periods of fame. Abloh had already made his impression on the world of fashion and with that, he founded what would be his most successful brand, Off-White.

Off-White is the manifestation of all Abloh’s styling cues and ideas. He combines simplicity with bold statements in a way that is unique to him. Big stripes and quotation marks around names are highly associated with exclusivity and elevated streetwear. Off-White’s recognition for coveted and premium products quickly matched the status of large streetwear giants such as Supreme, Palace, and Bape. 

Being ambitious as usual, Abloh and Nike collaborated to make the Top 10 sneaker collection. This collection features classic Nike silhouettes with the signature Off-White print over the shoes. People still pay thousands of dollars to get their hands on the rare set of shoes. Nike and Off-White have both seen huge increases in popularity due to this drop. 



With Off-White’s prosperity and contacts he already had at Louis Vuitton, Abloh eventually obtained the position as Creative Director of menswear at Louis Vuitton. 

Now taking his talents to the runway, Abloh stays true to his roots by adding bold colors and patterns to Louis Vuitton pieces. Pops of blue and orange on bags and shirts began to light up the runways of Paris and New York shortly after Abloh took his position at the high-end fashion brand.

Abloh’s success has been one of the greatest fashion stories of the decade. He has not only beat the odds by starting huge brands from the ground up but also inspired a wave of artists and designers to put their own ideas out there and make their own clothes.

Abloh is a role model to us all and reminds us that if you hustle enough and meet the right people, anyone can go from hashtags to monograms.


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