The designer, who created the Off-White company and served as men’s artistic director at Louis Vuitton, died of cardiac angiosarcoma in late November at the age of 41. A boundless talent, Abloh excelled in mediums beyond fashion including car design with Mercedes-Benz, home decor with Ikea and water bottles with Evian among others.
Burton was another brand that he had aligned with at different points in his career. The Illinois-born Abloh understood the dynamics and the culture of the sport, having grown up snowboarding. In 2017, he first visited Burton’s Burlington, Vt., headquarters to get inspiration for collaborative performance-oriented women’s outerwear with Burton and his Off-White label. Abloh and Burton executives reconnected at the end of 2020 about the prospect of working together again on collaborative products.
The upcoming Burton c/o Virgil Abloh collection will include 10 exclusive snowboards that will be digitally auctioned March 15 by the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund. After Abloh’s death in November, Burton wanted to give something back to the community and to raise money for the scholarship fund. Abloh’s namesake scholarship fund aims to improve equity in the fashion industry by offering scholarships to academically promising students of Black, African American or African descent.
Abloh wrote a manifesto to ensure the collaboration had added meaning and stood for something. The 10 snowboards that are being auctioned are imprinted with his manifesto, “PRODUCT THAT BY ITS EXISTENCE NOT ONLY STANDS AS EVIDENCE FOR THE EVOLUTION OF A SUBCULTURE AND SPORT BUT BECOMES AN ARTIFACT THAT PROVES THAT DIVERSITY WITHIN SNOWBOARDING IS NOT ONLY AN IDEA, IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING, CARE OF BURTON and VIRGIL ABLOH.”
The manifesto is also in line with the core values of Burton, which is dedicated to building justice, equity, diversity and inclusion for the long-term health of the company, sport and community. In 1995, Burton’s founders Jake and Donna Burton created the nonprofit Chill Foundation to make snowboarding more accessible and to use board sports as a way for youth to overcome challenges.
As a tribute to Abloh’s life and legacy, Burton will donate more than $300,000 from its philanthropic program over the next three years to causes that increase representation for people of color in the snowboarding community.
On March 22, a limited-edition collection of snowboards, boots and bindings that were designed by Abloh will be introduced on Burton’s e-commerce site. Retail prices will range from $490 to $1,000.
Another range of Abloh’s designs were recently unveiled. Last week at the start of Paris Fashion Week, Off-White showed the final collection that Abloh had designed before his death with the help of Cindy Crawford, Kaia Gerber, Bella Hadid and other big-name designers.
Having worked with Abloh for 18 months, Burton’s chief creative officer Adrien Josef Margelist said Monday that both parties wanted from the very beginning was to create something much bigger and the manifesto “proves that diversity in snowboarding is not only an idea, but it is actually happening,” he said. “We at Burton care about that.”
Noting how Abloh was integral in changing the board sports community to be more diverse and inclusive, Margelist said that is definitely something that Burton as a brand celebrates and is committed to continuing. With the full support of Abloh’s family and inner circle, the company aims to celebrate Abloh and his spirit, he added.
”He was this great creator and the most successful contemporary designer and cross-disciplinary artist. People see him up there, but the most important thing to know was that he was always on the ground being part of the community. He was humble. That is an important message for people to know,” Margelist said.
Describing Abloh as “fantastic” to work with, Margelist said he was so honored to have had that opportunity. The pair had shared ideologies, had each grown up in creative environments and had snowboarded in the early days of the sport’s popularity. “He was just a creative genius. It was amazing to spend the weekend with him and to work with him including working with him physically in Paris. We had this opportunity to create this amazing collaboration together,” Margelist said.
As for how Abloh was able to successfully execute so many projects across different disciplines, Margelist said, “He was open to everything and anything. He was so humble. He was one of the most humble human beings I have met. His interests, his philosophies and his way of questioning everything just gave him this endless energy. He was literally going nonstop. He was really impressive and inspiring. He was just pure positive energy,” Margelist said. “This was his pure nature. That’s the way he was.”