“Virgil and I go back several years, and I just remember he was just an incredible human being and incredibly passionate about his craft. He was hungry and destined for greatness,” Fat Joe told ESSENCE as he reminisced about the first time he met his late friend Virgil Abloh. “I’m so proud of everything he accomplished and he’s missed dearly by myself and many others.”
Virgil Abloh, Creative Director of Louis Vuitton’s Menswear and founder of Off-White, passed away on November 28, 2021 after his ongoing battle with cancer, which he kept private while he was alive. Virgil made history after becoming the first Black man to hold an Artistic Director position at a luxury fashion house and continued to impact the fashion industry as a cultural force that will never be forgotten. Among those touched by his influence is rapper Fat Joe, who has curated a rare Air Force 1 collection, including the LV X AF1 by Virgil Abloh, that he will auction and giveaway on Wednesday, June 29th. The auction will be co-hosted by the “Lean Back” rapper and sneaker reseller @_mayor through Mayor’s channel on Whatnot at 9 PM EST, the largest independent US live stream shopping app.
“The funds from the auction will go toward Virgil’s Post Modern Scholarship fund and create opportunities for up-and-coming multicultural designers to break into the industry and follow in Virgil’s footsteps,” Fat Joe explained about honoring the legacy of Abloh through the auction. “Virgil was always passionate about helping the next generation of Black designers succeed and we’re proud to keep the momentum going in his honor and help college students pursue their dreams.”
There will be five auctions for five different giveaways and all boxes will be opened at the end of the stream by Fat Joe himself in the order they were won. The shoes include Mayor’s AF1 Made To Order Croc, Mayor’s Fragment x Lunar Force, Fat Joe’s Terror Squad, and the rare Louis Vuitton X Nike Air Force 1s by Virgil Abloh, which Fat Joe said he had to get his hands on himself once they dropped.
“The first thing I did was call my friends at Nike to make sure I had a pair – I had to have my hands on them before anyone else. When they let me know that I was on the list, I was ecstatic. It was more than a shoe; it was a work of art and the detail was next-level. Virgil knew the type of things sneakerheads looked for and he was tapped into the community like no one else,” he said.
As a native New Yorker, Fat Joe recognizes the significance of an Air Force 1 and even refers to it as a “staple of New York City culture,” similar to Timberland boots in the wintertime across the five boroughs. He continued, “For New Yorkers, I think it’s extra special because Air Force Ones played a big role in bridging the gap between hip-hop, basketball and sneaker culture. That style and influence started in New York City and ended up expanding to all parts of the country, but we were the innovators.”
On the topic of influence, Fat Joe gave his flowers to Abloh as he told ESSENCE about his influence on the rapper’s personal style evolution throughout the years.
“I’ve always prided myself on being the undisputed sneaker king and one of the freshest in the entertainment industry, but when Virgil came into the game, he added the elevated prestige to the sneaker game that was missing,” he praised of his late friend. “Sneakers became luxury items and started popping up on fashion runways, so I had to make sure my sneaker collection evolved. It pushed me to take my sneaker game to the next level and, for that, Virgil will always be a legend.”
As the interview wrapped, Fat Joe took a moment to share his thoughts not only on how Abloh influenced luxury fashion but sneaker culture and streetwear as well. “Virgil’s influence on high fashion, streetwear, and sneaker culture is monumental. You can’t compare it to anyone in the game. Fashion brands never really embraced streetwear until Virgil broke the mold, connected them together, and disrupted the game. He carved a lane for himself and created a whole new world for aspiring designers,” he said powerfully.
“Virgil was an icon and a trailblazer. He brought high-end fashion and streetwear together in a way that no one had ever done before and his impact on the culture will never be forgotten. His influence will open doors for other Black designers to disrupt the fashion industry, elevate the game and push the culture forward.”