Ever since his appointment to Louis Vuitton Homme in 2018, streetwear designer and visionary Virgil Abloh has been the centre of copy cat controversy by not only the comment section on social media, but fellow designers. Following an eccentric showcase for LV Spring/Summer 2021 in Shanghai in August, Belgian designer and member of the Antwerp Six Walter Van Beirendonck immediately called out Abloh for plagiarism.
Allegedly, certain aspects of the show including wearable teddy bears and stuffed animals were said to be directly copied from past collections of Van Beirendonck. Speaking to Belgian publication Knack Weekend, the designer gave a scathing review saying, “It’s very clear that Virgil Abloh is not a designer. He has no language of his own, no vision.”
At the time, Abloh was quick to respond and posted past runway images from Louis Vuitton 2005, where inspiration was supposedly taken. Nonetheless, the divide was polarising. Heading to Tokyo for the next instalment of Spring/Summer 2021, the Louis Vuitton Instagram account published a video showing the real archival teddy bear that formed the main design cue for the forthcoming season. Designed by March Jacobs in 2005, the brown velvet bear emblazoned with the classic monogram was dug out from archive storage to make its way to Japan.
The public stab was yet another display that Abloh felt compelled to reveal he had not stolen from Van Beirendonck. Can this debate now be put to bed? Stay tuned.
Cover image: Tomohiro Ohsumi / Getty Images