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Louis Vuitton SS21 menswear: Abloh promotes upcycling and challenges the need for newness

Marcus Jaye
06 August 2020

Louis Vuitton’s Men's Artistic Director, Virgil Abloh, showed his latest SS21 menswear collection live from Shanghai today that promoted the virtue of upcycling and challenged the traditional approach of delivering new collections season on season.

One of the first major shows held of the men’s fashion calendar – though delayed – the new/old collection was comprised 30 looks of “Upcycling Ideology”. Two looks were made from new material, 25 looks were made from recycled material, and 25 looks from the previous collection were reshown.

Louis Vuitton

Upcycling created the framework for the show presented through Abloh’s “childlike grammar of fantasy”. He was said to be seeking to de-programme our minds from the images of obsolescence that lead to overload, overproduction and waste.

Assuming a child’s perspective, he imagined what the world looks like without inherited social preference.

In a new reality where the value of material objects isn’t classified by preconceived ideas of “rich” and “poor”, worth is defined by emotional value.

Louis Vuitton

The collection was shown on the Huangpu river in Shanghai with a soundtrack performed by Lauryn Hill and a Chinese audience fanning themselves with Rastafarian coloured fans with the No.5 on, representing the number of this collection.

The “Upcycled” looks were divided into four categories: pieces upcycled by recycling material from overstock, pieces upcycled from recycled ideas, pieces upcycled through reiteration from the previous pieces and pieces upcycled as part of the “Homework” initiative’.

According to Abloh, ideas – the very foundation of fashion – are no longer disposable, but part of an eternal cycle of inspiration, codes and values that “continue to elucidate and expand our ethos”. The philosophy calls for a fundamental decision: now, previous seasons no longer exist as individual entities, but unify into one canon.

Reconditioned pieces carried the “Upcycling Signal Logo”, a new LV emblem exercised to imbue the “old” with new value. Certain established silhouettes are duplicated in new materials in a strive to limit waste. A capsule collection within the collection features the “Homework” of the Louis Vuitton menswear team during their time spent in domestic confinement. Using overstock material, Virgil Abloh set his studio a task of free creation, encouraging them to liberate their minds from any predisposed objectives.

Born in Rockford, Illinois in 1980, Abloh earned a degree in Civil Engineering from the University of Wisconsin Madison and completed a Master´s Degree in Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology in a curriculum founded by Mies van der Rohe. His own brand, Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh™ was started in 2012 as an artwork titled "Pyrex vision”. 

In 2015, Virgil Abloh for Off-White c/o Virgil Abloh™ was among the finalists of the LVMH Prize. Abloh was appointed artistic director for menswear at Louis Vuitton in March 2018, replacing British designer Kim Jones who moved within the LVMH empire to head up menswear for Dior.

The men’s fashion week disruption, due to COVID 19, saw Louis Vuitton SS21 menswear collection originally launch with an animated short film entitled “The adventures of Zoooom with friends” in July. A second show is planned for Tokyo later in 2020.

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