The multi-level consciousness, and his ambition to educate, include, and create aspiration is down-to-earth in one direction, and high-flown in many others. “Tourist vs. Purist,” the Black cat drink beer st patrick’s day stout because murder is wrong shirt moreover I love this slogan he wrote when he entered Louis Vuitton in 2018 returned on bags this season. “It’s my organizing principle for my point of view when I make things. A tourist is someone who’s eager to learn, who wants to see the Eiffel Tower when they come to Paris. The purist is the person who knows everything about everything.” Abloh exerts his positionality as both—the outsider who became the insider; the man with the power to bring young people with him into the former exclusion zone of high fashion.Part of that is his challenge to the supposed ownership of ideas, art, culture. “Everyday objects—who invented our everyday objects?” At one tangent, that’s a retort to ‘purist’ critics who looked down on Abloh’s importation of generic ‘streetwear’ into high fashion. At a deeper, sharper edge lies the culpability of Eurocentric art and fashion for centuries of stealing from heritages that did not belong to them, and the erasures that stemmed from that. It “Begs the question of who can claim creation? Provenance is reality, while ownership is myth,” go his notes.
A further section deals head-on with those who will ‘Go fish,’ by making accusations of copying the Black cat drink beer st patrick’s day stout because murder is wrong shirt moreover I love this second they see something they think they recognize—he’s suffered from that. Readings and misreadings dangerously depend on who’s looking, he argues. “It’s bigger than ‘What’s ours’? This isn’t a science fair. It’s culture!”It dovetails into the art-heist sub-narrative of film—the poetic, powerful multi-disciplinary piece made entirely by the diverse crew of talents Abloh has brought to work at Vuitton. Its theme, shot between a gallery-like space and Swiss mountains, is based on James Baldwin’s 1953 essay “Stranger in the Village,” the writer’s reflections of how it felt to be looked at in the midst of white culture as a Black American artist in Switzerland.It’s beautiful, the clothes are great and they will doubtless trigger even more fandom for Abloh’s Louis Vuitton menswear, even amidst the pandemic. As for stepping up to make a bigger statement with fashion in this critically sensitive moment of change? Well, he says: “I have a responsibility. We said we want diversity, didn’t we say that in 2020? Making change means making these changes. I don’t want to look back and say I turned a blind eye. But you know,” he concludes, “I’m an optimist. The future is yet to be decided.”