In a sign of the times, it’s always a big story when a prominent fashion company hires a minority at a top level position and Louis Vuitton’s recent move is no different. According to Complex, in March, “Virgil Abloh was appointed as the new artistic director of men’s wear at Louis Vuitton, making him the third black designer ever to head a French fashion house.” In an interesting response, while many thought the hire was a step forward for diversity, some were unimpressed.
None more than Hypebeast writer Jason Dike who argued “that the appointment was a safe move for Louis Vuitton, in part because of Abloh’s reluctance to speak on race or politics. He writes, “That two of the three black designers to hold a French luxury design position stray away from openly discussing social issues is more an indication of the racism that fills the industry than a reason to question the designers’ morale.”
In addition to Dike, British fashion designer Joe Casely-Hayford states that Abloh’s appointment proves that black designers are welcome in certain parts of the industry. He explains, “Black designers have only been accepted in very narrow and predetermined roles: street style, sportswear, and afro-fetishism are the main, easy to digest categories.”
The idea of afro-fetishism is an interesting concept but one that some are indeed proposing with this hire. Still regardless of the sentiment by some this is a step forward. Whether this is the beginning of black designer opportunities or one of many, this is a positive and one that may help others gain opportunities.