Louis Vuitton’s designer Virgil Abloh responds to backlash about his $50 donation to protesters’ bail fund

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Louis Vuitton designer and CEO of the ‘Off-White’ streetwear fashion label, Virgil Abloh, took to Instagram to explain his $50 donation to Miami-based protestors’ bail fund. But the post was deleted soon after.

In the post, he explained: “More light before a narrative forms around false assumptions. The $50 donation described in a recent screenshot was part of a matching funds movement of friends I follow in my timeline. I declared that in the post itself. The concept of ‘matching funds’ with friend[s] was meant to inspire others to do the same. I am in support of a group of friends in Miami and that was an act of solidarity to the BLM movement @fempowermia.” 

Unlike the much-shared snapshot of the actual donation, his post just before that was largely ignored. He explained: “The post directly before that was me posting a link to a google doc with links for others to post bail outs for protest members.” He added that since there was “intrigue” about the amount of money he had personally given to the “rightful cause of protest”, he would be posting that too.

Abloh seemed to be drawing a line between “rightful protest” and the looting of luxury stores that had occurred during protests. Earlier, in a post that featured a photo of a looted luxury store in LA, Abloh made a distinction between streetwear about “community” and “culture” which was about “groups of friends that have a common bond” and ‘streetwear’ that was defined by “starting fights at lineups, defaming us cause we didn’t get enough pairs of shoes cause everyone can’t get a pair”. 

Virgil Abloh walks the runway during the Louis Vuitton Menswear Spring Summer 2020 show as part of Paris Fashion Week on June 20, 2019, in Paris, France. (Getty Images)

His clarification post did make it clear that his $50 donation was not about trolling his critics who had criticized his outrage about luxury stores being looted when people were dying. However, his now-deleted post may not be enough to soothe ruffled feathers and indeed has escaped the attention of most people.

Outraged Twitter users are already on the warpath to cancel him. “All these celebrities and influencers are being exposed! Remember this once this pandemic and protests stop!”, said one tweet. However, other users were already a step ahead compiling lists of other black designers and labels worthy of their “Black dollars” like Mowalola, LaQuan Smith, Kenneth Ize, Orange Culture, Pyer Moss, Telfar, Phlemuns, Christopher John Rogers, Sergio Hudson, and Hanifa.

The jokers of the bunch of course could not help point out the deeper significance behind his label’s name. Comments ranged from – “So is he OFFwhites or OFFblacks?” to “When you think about it, Virgil makes money Off white, not Off black” to “Maybe Virgil named his line “Off White” because he considers himself off White”.

Since he has deleted his Instagram clarification, Abloh might respond with a more formal statement later. This is what he had done when he was under fire for his lack of diversity hiring back in May last year. The 2019 controversy had erupted when he posted photos of his label’s creative team which was predominately white.

At that time, Off-White released a formal statement saying: “When questioned about diversity, Virgil Abloh takes pride in being African and American. His design team is diverse, and his practice has been built on making the art and design industry an inclusive community.” Besides listing the names of some people of color who held high positions at the company, the statement clarified that the photo shared was of his team based in Milan, Italy.

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