Virgil Abloh, University of Wisconsin-Madison alumni, founder of streetwear brand Off-White and esteemed Louis Vuitton designer, died on Sunday at the age of 41.
Abloh studied civil engineering before graduating from UW-Madison in 2003, completing his master’s degree in architecture from the Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago.
Pivoting from a career in engineering, Abloh was known for his success in fashion design. He became the first African-American artistic director for Louis Vuitton in 2018 after founding his streetwear brand, Off-White, in 2013.
In 2016, Abloh earned a Forward under 40 award, which The Wisconsin Alumni Association gives to alumni that “serve as aspirational examples for others through their accomplishments in the areas of leadership, discovery, progress, and service.”
According to his Forward under 40 interview, Abloh gained valuable problem-solving skills in his time at UW-Madison.
“That’s where I learned to multitask,” said Abloh. “I approach my career in that way. Everything I did, in some way, made this result happen.”
In 2015, Abloh was asked by the Wisconsin Alumni Association to design the RedShirt, a shirt designed annually that donates 25% of the proceeds towards need-based scholarships for UW-Madison students. Abloh’s 2015 design donated all of the proceeds towards the Off-Scholarship, a scholarship fund created for incoming first-year students with need-based aid.
A statement on Abloh’s Instagram announced his death yesterday. According to the statement, Abloh had been battling cardiac angiosarcoma for over two years, and he is survived by his wife Shannon Abloh and their children.
“We are all shocked by this terrible news,” Bernard Arnault, chairman and chief executive of Louis Vuitton Moët Henessey, said in a statement. “Virgil was not only a genius designer, a visionary, he was also a man with a beautiful soul and great wisdom.”