Virgil Abloh’s Legacy Is About to Get Louder

Many companies, including fashion companies, may be going silent about their diversity, equity and inclusion initiatives in the face of political change. The last round of major designer appointments may not have included a single creative director of color. But at least one group is doubling down on its commitment to broadening the style-talent pipeline.

At its annual gala on April 8, Peter Arnold, the executive director of the Fashion Scholarship Fund, the nonprofit that is dedicated to expanding access to the industry for underprivileged students, and Shannon Abloh, the widow of Virgil Abloh, will unveil a new strategic plan for the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund. The new initiative will double the number of recipients and expand the way the fund defines support.

As such, it marks the next step in Ms. Abloh’s efforts to consolidate her husband’s legacy.

Mr. Abloh, the pioneering Black designer who founded the brand Off-White, collaborated with Nike and became the first Black creative director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear, died in late 2021 of a rare form of cancer.

“When he became successful, Virgil was the first Black face that many kids saw in a room they didn’t know they could enter,” Ms. Abloh said via Zoom from Chicago just be fore getting on a plane to fly to New York for the Fashion Scholarship Fund event. “He and I talked about, How can we turn this into something that really means something over time?” The Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund was part of the answer.

Shannon Abloh with the designer Aurora James at the CFDA awards ceremony in November 2022.Credit…Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

Now, she said of the D.E.I. reversals, “it’s really nerve-racking, seeing the changes that are happening. But for me, all it means is that the work needs to continue to be louder. It just makes me double down and say, ‘OK, then we need to fight harder.’”

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