Iconic fashion designer Virgil Abloh has passed away at the age of 41 after a two-year private battle with cancer. The late artistic director of Louis Vuitton men’s wear and founder of Off-White was seen as “the most powerful Black executive in the most powerful luxury group in the world,” according to the New York Times.
With power comes great responsibility and besides making a huge impact on the fashion world, Abloh used his voice to help promote sustainability.
During his time at LVMH, the brand saw the release of their first upcycled sneaker as part of Louis Vuitton’s SS21 Upcycling collection in 2019, followed by a new “Felt Line” that made its debut during LV’s Fall/Winter 2021 collection. But, perhaps Abloh’s most well-known sustainability efforts came out of his partnership with French water bottle company, Evian.
In 2018, Evian announced that they planned to make all their plastic water bottles out of recycled plastic by 2025. That same year, they named Abloh their Creative Advisor of Sustainable Innovation Design, for which he was responsible for the re-design of Evian products. Two creative projects resulted from his role: “One Drop Can Make A Rainbow” and “Activate Movement.”
In 2019, Abloh designed a limited edition 750ml glass water bottle for Evian as part of the “One Drop Can Make A Rainbow” concept, which featured a swirling design of blue dots. The dots symbolised water droplets and their ripple effect in making a bigger change, just like how single sustainable actions add up to greater impact.
In 2020, Abloh then designed two refillable glass bottles as a collaboration between Evian, Soma and himself, which were shatter-resistant, easy to grip with silicone sleeves, and leak-proof with natural bamboo caps.
Also in 2020, Evian and Abloh launched the “Activate Movement” competition – an open call for young talent to submit their projects in sustainability. In a statement, Abloh said that he wanted to give “future generations a voice” and prove “that you can change the status quo even with small deeds.” The most innovative project would win EUR50,000 to turn it into reality, which went to Royal College of Art graduate Danielle Elsener for her zero-waste design system called ‘A020.’
Continuing their sustainability efforts this January 2021, Evian x Virgil Abloh released their first recycled plastic bottle. Made nearly completely out of recycled plastic, it featured a ‘hammered’ effect on the bottle’s surface to reflect that it was made from waste materials, and is completely recyclable at the end of its life cycle.
Sadly, Evian and Abloh’s partnership has come to a sudden end with the news of his passing, but let’s not forget all the great things he did for sustainability just in the past few years alone.
RIP Virgil Abloh.
Learn more about Evian’s sustainability efforts.
See also: How do they make bags out of recycled plastic anyway?