What if Ye took over men’s fashion at Louis Vuitton?



As the fashion industry struggles to come to terms with the untimely death of Virgil Abloh, the Ghanaian-American designer who ran menswear at Louis Vuitton, rumors are already circulating about who might be in the running for the role.

Such speculation is normal at this point, usually with a number of names floating around. Interestingly, however, this time only one name is mentioned: Ye, the artist officially known as Kanye West.

While these are just rumors so far, it is little more than guesswork, with Louis Vuitton and parent company LVMH remaining silent on the matter. However, if Louis Vuitton decides to name Ye as Abloh’s successor, there are a few factors that work against the rapper.

The argument against Ye

First, Ye has no high-level experience running a fashion house, with his two attempts, the Pastelle and Yeezy clothes, quietly disappearing from view, although his sneaker brand Yeezy is still doing business. roaring for him and his brand partner adidas.

Ye’s much-discussed eccentricity is another question mark. With fashion as a results-driven industry, there is less room for unruly characters. Likewise, Ye is well known for his contempt for deadlines, as evidenced by the often delayed releases of his albums – the latest example being that of his 10th album Donda. With a tight schedule to maintain and a rigid collection schedule to follow, there is no time to take a break from fashion.

Why you might be the one

However, there are also many factors that could work in Ye’s favor. Although he is known as a rapper, he has extensive knowledge of the industry, having interned at the Italian house Fendi in 2009, and often surrounds himself with key fashion players. In 2010, Ye asked designer Phillip Lim to create the wardrobe for his short film, Run away, and this year, for the Donda Evenings of listening, Ye was able to tie up none other than the creative director of Balenciaga, Demna Gvasalia.

Ye also had Abloh, the man he is now called to replace, as Creative Director since 2008. The two were close friends and since Abloh’s death Ye has been quoted as saying he felt obligated. to continue the work of his friend.

Much of Ye’s success lies in his uncanny ability to tune in with the times. He announced the launch of his Yeezy Nike sneakers by wearing a pair of prototypes for his 2008 Grammy performance, sparking a frenzy of his designs that continues to this day. Yeezy, now at adidas, is now valued by Forbes to $ 1.8 billion, thanks in large part to West’s skill in building hype around each new launch.

While much of Abloh’s success at Louis Vuitton is down to the cult of fame, with customers keen to buy everything from the designer, Ye has made it an art form. Credited with helping transform ex-wife Kim Kardashian’s career from a reality TV star to a true fashion heavyweight, in June 2020 Ye signed a billion dollar deal with the Gap clothing brand, called Yeezy Gap, for which he will rework the clothing offering, and this will earn him royalties on the sale.

To date, the collaboration has released only two items: a “round” jacket that sold out in seconds via pre-orders, and a hoodie. Yet, thanks in large part to the deal, Ye’s personal fortune is estimated at over $ 2 billion, with Bloomberg staking it up to $ 6.8 billion.

By contrast, Abloh’s own brand, Off-White, known for its extremely expensive street clothes – think $ 1,000 hoodies and a pair of sneakers with the word “laces” written on them for $ 700. – coupled with his income at Louis Vuitton, meant that Abloh was worth around $ 20 million at the time of his death.

In 2018, Abloh was nominated by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. Ye, meanwhile, had made the same list two years earlier.

FILE - In this August 28, 2016 file photo, Kim Kardashian West, left, and Kanye West arrive at the MTV Video Music Awards in New York City.  Kanye West apologized on a Chicago radio station for suggesting slavery was a "choice." (Photo by Evan Agostini / Invision / AP, file)

Also, Ye and Louis Vuitton already have a story. In 2008, long before Abloh took the reins, Ye designed the men’s runway sneakers.

So while Ye may seem like an underdog for the home, he has already, in many ways, proven his market appeal and ability to switch products on an unprecedented scale. He might have little experience with firsthand design, but it might not be such a drawback. After all, every home has a full and talented design studio to assist the designer every step of the way.

What Ye has, and what Abloh had, is credibility – that shifting, indefinable ability to speak to large audiences. As Abloh and Ye have already proven, this audience is also willing to spend a lot to buy into their vision. So while Ye may be chaotic, ungovernable, and somewhat aberrant, perhaps he is precisely the man to continue his friend’s job.

Louis Vuitton made a big bet by naming Abloh, making him the first black man to run a major fashion house. If the company is looking to continue down this path, then maybe Ye, with all of his flaws, is the man to do it.

Update: December 12, 2021, 10:59 a.m.



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