Virgil Abloh has issued an apology for comments he made about looters during protests, adding that he has donated $20,500 (£16,400) to bail funds and other causes related to the Black Lives Matter movement.
In the aftermath of George Floyd’s death, thousands of people in the US and across the world have taken part in protests and demonstrations calling for an end to racism and police brutality against black people.
Some businesses in America have been looted as the protests have taken place, including 170 properties in St Paul, Minnesota as of Friday 29 May, four days after Mr Floyd’s death.
After a streetwear store owned by designer Sean Wotherspoon was looted, Abloh commented on Instagram condemning the act and telling those who took part to “hang your head in shame”, as reported by Complex.
Abloh received backlash for his comments, with critics accusing the Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director of not demonstrating adequate support for those taking part in the protests.
In an apology shared on Instagram and Twitter, the 39-year-old stated: “I apologise that my comments yesterday appeared as if my main concerns are anything other than full solidarity with the movements against police violence, racism, and inequality.”
Abloh said that while speaking about his own shops and those owned by friends that were looted, he expressed his apology “that it seemed like my concern for those stores outweighed my concern for our right to protest injustice and express our anger and rage in this moment”.
“People who criticise ‘looting’ often do so as a way to make it seem like our fight against injustice isn’t legitimate. I did not realise the ways my comments accidentally contributed to that narrative,” he stated.
“As mentioned yesterday, if looting eases pain and furthers the overall mission, it is within good standing with me.”
In addition to his comments on the looting, Abloh also shared a screenshot of a social media chain he took part in with friends where he matched a $50 (£40) donation towards a bail fund for protesters.
This led some to assume that this was the entire sum of money donated by the designer, an assumption that he corrected in his statement.
“I can understand your frustration if you think my contributions were limited to $50. Purely false when it comes to the total. I have donated $20,500 to bail funds and other causes related to this movement,” he wrote.
“I will continue to donate more and will continue to use my voice to urge my peers to do the same.
“I was on the fence about publicising total dollar amounts because I didn’t want to look like I’m glorifying only higher amounts or that I want to be applauded for it. If you know me you know that’s not me.”
In the statement posted on his social media channels, Abloh also spoke about the fear he experiences of racial discrimination on a daily basis when carrying out everyday activities, stating: “The risk of literal death is the normal walk of life.”
“I am a black man. A dark black man. Like dark-dark. On an average trip to the grocery store in Chicago I fear I will die,” he stated.
“Any interaction with the police could be fatal to me. A split second interaction I could have with them, Off-White sneakers mean nothing… or that I’m head designer of this… or I showed art work at such and such place doesn’t apply in the heat of an exchange.”
Abloh wrote that as a black person, he feels “anger, sadness, and pain every time one of us is held victim of prejudice or systemic racism”.
“I am proud to stand in solidarity with every movement to eradicate racism and police violence. Racism has to stop. It is literally killing us,” the designer stated.