Virgil Abloh launches $1 million scholarship fund for Black creatives

Francis Akhalbey Francis Akhalbey | Editor July 10, 2020

Photo via @virgilabloh on Instagram

Ghanaian-American fashion designer Virgil Abloh is “redeeming” himself after he was famously trolled and called out on social media last month for sharing a screenshot of a $50 donation he made to help raise bail money for Black Lives Matter protesters.

For the record, he later came out to address the criticisms and clarify issues, revealing that he has actually donated over $20k in bail funds as well as other Black Lives Matter movement causes, and was only matching a friend’s donation with the $50 screenshot.

Call this a “Big Boss” and “Put your money where your mouth is” move, the Off-White Founder and Artistic Director of menswear at Louis Vuitton announced a $1 million scholarship fund for Black creatives on Thursday.

According to Vogue, the initiative, which is named the Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, will be financed by Abloh himself as well as his partners Louis Vuitton, Evian, New Guards Group – of which Off-White is a subsidiary – and Farfetch. Fashion Scholarship Fund (formerly known as Young Menswear Association), a non-profit association “dedicated to supporting, nurturing and honoring” young American creatives since its establishment in 1973, will partner Abloh on his new initiative.

“By the metrics we’re projecting, we’ll put 100 kids, Black kids, through a wide spectrum of educational institutions. I started as a 17-year-old kid whose parents wanted him to be an engineer, but I wanted to be a fashion designer…. I’m 39 years old and it’s taken me that time to work to get here and prove my pedigree and to be in a position to activate change,” Abloh, whose parents are Ghanaian immigrants, said.

Providing more insight into the new fund, the 39-year-old told Vogue it would be followed with more initiatives that would reach and benefit more Black creatives in the fashion and design industry.

“A benefit of this uprising is that we are paying attention to systemic problems…we can’t move on…. It’s time for us not to make this industry about fashion, but about people… And I’ve been pouring that into my own work. I’m looking at this as a call to action for me to take on more challenges that don’t only end up on the runway, but that end up changing people’s lives,” he said.

Looking at how the fashion and design industry has very few Black creatives despite profiting off Black culture, Abloh’s initiative is most definitely commendable. As the saying goes: “If they don’t want to give you a seat at the table, bring your own chair.”