Virgil Abloh Dives In on ‘Ethical Fashion’ Podcast

Virgil Abloh is dipping into the sustainability podcast niche.

As part of the United Nation’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, the Louis Vuitton men’s creative lead and Off-White founder will be joining the “Ethical Fashion” podcast for its second season as the inaugural guest.

“​An Instagram post is as much of an artwork as a 300-look fashion collection,​” Abloh said in the episode. “​Something I made 20 years ago as a student — like my thesis [on] architecture…is just as valid as a new Nike shoe. There is no hierarchy.​”

While the first season spotlighted global artisans, hosts Simone Cipriani and Clare Press are devoting season two to sustainability, diversity, design and female empowerment with an aim to spotlight African creatives and entrepreneurs.

For this first episode aired Thursday, Abloh talked about democratizing luxury; mentorship; what keeps him hopeful amid ongoing acts of racism; toeing the line between technology and human connection, and inspiration from the Roman artist Caravaggio discovering how art can be its “own language of representing people,” in his words.

​Abloh told a story that influenced his recent Louis Vuitton show, which addressed cultural appropriation and identity, saying: ​“When my dad would go to a graduation or when we had Ghana Fest in Chicago, him and all his friends would get together. He wouldn’t wear a suit, he wouldn’t wear a European suit, he would wear kente cloth…and that is a fact of my reality; it’s not pop culture. The reason why I put it in the Louis Vuitton show is because not sharing cultures on that stage gives people complexes and makes people think their culture isn’t part of the ecosystem…And me, if I was 14 years old and I saw a Louis Vuitton show with that music and that style and that flair, and I saw people wearing kente — I might not have been so private with my cultural heritage.”

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He described his recently launched mentoring program “Free Game” as “a means of changing the role of a designer and artists with a capital A and D. You don’t just exist, there’s also a social responsibility to have the platforms that you do at a certain level.”

Abloh also counts a board position with the Fashion Scholarship Fund as he continues to prioritize opportunities for students, and primarily Black students. “I’m 100 percent an optimist; it’s the only way of being. To be anything less means your time on Earth is diminished. It’s that easy,” Abloh reiterated.

The podcast is available on traditional streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Podcasts.

The season includes 12 episodes with upcoming guests like Ghanian entrepreneur and impact investor ​Roberta Annan, Nigerian-American stylist ​Alexander-Julian Gibbson, Studio 189 cofounders Abrima Erwiah​ and ​Rosario Dawson and label Orange Culture’s ​Adebayo Oke-Lawal​, among others.

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Behind ‘Ethical Fashion’ Podcast: Brainchild of Simone Cipriani, Clare Press

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