Virgil Abloh’s Off White and Nike collaborations were a hit. It made his name more prominent in the sneaker culture. But unknown to many, the fashion designer credited all his success to Michael Jordan and the impact the GOAT had on his life.
The Jumpman logo looked like a Batman symbol
Abloh grew up in Chicago and was naturally drawn to Michael Jordan. Of course, asking his parents to buy MJ’s shoes was no easy task as they came with a hefty price tag, but for the young dreamer, it’s more than just sneakers: it’s about believing in himself that he could channel his inner Jordan.
“As a young kid back then, the Jumpman logo looked like a Batman symbol. They were one and the same. The shoes, the apparel and the iconography was just as potent as everything prior to it existing. It allowed my generation to have a reverence for Nike, but it also gave fuel for brand Jordan to be its own distinct entity.” Abloh explained to Highsnobiety.
Virgil added that he aimed to replicate MJ’s impact on his life on the younger generation through his work. One day, it all happened.
From an MJ fan to Jordan asking for his autograph
Abloh quickly ascended the hierarchy in the fashion world by sticking to his principles. He was once learning from Kanye West and went on to become Louis Vuitton’s artistic director. Despite all his success and projects, he made sure to go back and work with the brand he grew up loving: Nike and Jordan.
You could say it wasn’t about the money; it was making his teenage self happy. Fulfilling a lifelong dream doesn’t happen to anyone. You know you’ve arrived when your idol asks for your autograph.
Tremaine Emory, a close friend of Kanye and Abloh, claimed that when Jordan asked for Virgil’s signature on Off White and Nike collab, he wished he could rewind time.
“I wish time travel existed, and you could go back and be like, ‘Virgil, 16-year-old, 18-year-old Virgil, you’re going to have a collab with Nike one day, with Jordans. And then Michael Jordan is going to text Nike and say I need a pair of those, and you gotta sign a pair to him.”
For someone who grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, it was validation for Virgil Abloh. It could have been a different story for him without Michael Jordan’s impact on his life. Abloh may no longer be around, but he realized one of his lifelong dreams, and for sure, he inspired the next generation with his style and work.