BE LIKE VIRGIL. BE THE GATEKEEPERS WHO CAN OPEN UP THOSE GATES WIDER SO THAT MORE KIDS CAN FLOOD IN AND BE A PART OF THE CULTURE
There weren’t many people like Virgil Abloh. He was one of the most influential creatives in the modern era responsible for breaking down cultural boundaries and blurring the lines between luxury fashion, streetwear, and Black culture. Abloh was a revolutionary who promoted inclusivity and diversity in exclusive spaces. As the first Black man to lead a luxury fashion label, Abloh used his influence to inspire younger generations to feel welcomed and represented in areas he was passionate about. One of Abloh’s passions happened to be snowboarding.
It's easy to see why Abloh enjoyed riding. At face value, you may not see right away what snowboarding and high fashion have in common. Both push progression, promote creativity and offer exciting lifestyles and worldwide communities. For Abloh, snowboarding provided the chance to express creativity. It also was a medium where he could drive initiatives that highlighted people of color.
Due to a variety of systemic and societal failures, BIPOC individuals are in the minority in both high fashion and snowboarding. Abloh recognized this and wanted snowboarding to validate the power and influence of streetwear and Black culture. When he launched Off-White™, he was determined to infiltrate a world that wasn’t built for him and turn it on its head.
In 2018, Abloh partnered with Burton to do the same for snowboarding. The Off-White™ Burton collab was a chance to develop a line of women’s outerwear that held function and style to the same standard. Abloh focused on women because he recognized that the snowboard industry was male-dominated and wanted to create a line that empowered female riders. Fast forward to 2021, and Abloh decided to team up with Burton again to create a new line of snowboards, boots, and bindings grounded in diversity and inclusivity. He developed a unique line and drafted a manifesto to guide the collection:
PRODUCT THAT BY ITS EXISTENCE NOT ONLY STANDS AS EVIDENCE FOR THE EVOLUTION OF A SUBCULTURE AND SPORT BUT BECOMES AN ARTIFACT WHICH PROVES THAT DIVERSITY WITHIN SNOWBOARDING IS NOT ONLY AN IDEA, IT’S ACTUALLY HAPPENING, CARE OF BURTON and VIRGIL ABLOH™
We asked two team riders, Zeb Powell and Brolin Mawejje, to interpret the manifesto and share their thoughts about the collaboration with Virgil:
I try to leave my impact on snowboarders just like Virgil left on me. Keeping up with me. Taking the time to talk, it meant so, so, much.
“The manifesto says it well. It’s not just an idea; it is beyond the conversation. It is happening. We are watching it happen and will continue to watch the sport of snowboarding grow.”
By dreaming about the future, Abloh influenced the present. He led by example to make room for fresh faces and identities in a sport that has been homogenous for far too long. Inspiring the youth through product and representation, Virgil created a world with room for everyone.
To celebrate Abloh’s life and legacy, we’re the Virgil Abloh™ “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund will auction off 10 exclusive boards on March 15th to help make snowboarding and the outdoors accessible for everyone. The auction donations will go directly to Abloh Post-Modern Scholarship Fund. This program aims to “foster equity and inclusion within the fashion industry by providing scholarships to students of academic promise of Black, African American, or African descent.” We know we can do more to make snowboarding a more inclusive space. This year, we’re taking action and pledging to donate $300,000 over three years to increase BIPOC representation in snowboarding. We’re aligning with Abloh’s dream for a more inclusive future to create a world where everyone can enjoy the ride.
The Virgil x Burton Collab drops on 3/22.
Rest in Power.