Editors’ letter

What is Virgil Abloh?

Ask anyone who operates in fashion-or-art-or-music-or-street-or-designrelated activities and you’re likely to spark a debate. Perhaps everyone has something to say about Virgil Abloh’s rise to ubiquity, influence and financial gain. As though he’s the barometer by which to gauge one’s own place in today’s topsy-turvy world.

System couldn’t seem to make up its mind. So, we chose this issue’s cover story to explore the Virgil Abloh phenomenon (or, to write it the Abloh way, “phenomenon”). We wanted to witness up-close how Virgil thinks, talks, works, communicates (answer: via every digital channel, often at the same time), travels, relaxes, takes selfies, does that thing with his fingers to indicate ironic quote marks, and goes about his day-to-day business.

We spent the past six months organising meetings in London, New York, São Paulo, Paris, Milan and Amsterdam between Virgil and other restless conversationalists, including arts curator Hans Ulrich Obrist and Virgil’s student-years hero, architect Rem Koolhaas. We went deep behind the scenes of his collaboration-in-the-making with IKEA, a company with a current annual turnover of €35.1 billion. We asked dozens of industry figures to go on the record with their personal opinion. And, finally, we sent him off for a sauna at Juergen Teller’s studio.

The result? We’re exhausted. Overwhelmed. Spent.

Though Virgil Abloh, it seems, is only just getting warmed up.

Taken from System No. 10.