Whether or not you’ve been following menswear designer Virgil Abloh since he was but a wee member of Kanye West’s crew, it isn’t hard to the see that the 38-year-old is a modern-day marketing genius. In his short time as creative director at Louis Vuitton, Abloh has devised numerous viral-like moments—fire sneakers, nostalgic odes, bro hugs—all while making clothes that luxury customers are actually buying.
That Abloh has single-handedly made harnesses one of 2019’s most distinctive trends is yet another example of his talent as a creative visionary and business leader. Style-minded consumers, particularly male streetwear fans, have been circling around the idea of the harness with their mini cross-body bags and utility vests for a couple of years now, but it took Abloh to put the two together and then get it on the right people. Namely, Timothée Chalamet at the Golden Globes and Michael B. Jordan at the Screen Actors Guild Awards in January. (Chalamet was dubbed an official Louis Vuitton "ambassador" in one of the brand's Instagram posts, a title which was later rescinded, likely due to a lack of contract). And slightly more low-key: Offset at the Super Bowl Music Fest in Atlanta over the weekend. Each flex was distinctive and unmissable; a perfect act of style rebellion.
Will harnesses cross over into the mainstream? Probably not, but that doesn’t make it a miss. After all, Louis Vuitton’s business is built on rare, flashy accessories that aren’t accessible to the common consumer. Abloh sees the line between bejeweled harnesses and monogrammed luggage, he thinks in these codes. Dude might have great style and an eye for what’s cool, but he’s all business. We’re fully invested.