The Tourist and the Purist

Virgil Abloh is a renowned fashion designer and former Creative Director of Louis Vuitton and Off White. A common theme in his work is the Tourist and the Purist. He expands on this idea:

Tourist and purist, that’s my main device to understand the sections of culture, that move culture forward. You have a purist, that’s like, I know the whole art history of everything, you can’t do this, this was done 20-times before you thought of it. Like, this is the pure institution. Then there’s the tourist, who’s bright-eyed, curiosity-driven, that has a lust for learning, and they support whatever.

A purist is an expert. They have years of experience and their expertise is hard-won. However, their domain expertise becomes domain dogma as they become stuck in tradition.

A tourist is a beginner. They are eager, driven, but naive. Through their naivete, they question the norms and this is often where innovation happens.

Virgil himself is a tourist of fashion. He studied as an architect before interning at Fendi after graduation where he met Kanye West (Kanye was also interning at Fendi at the time). There they started their storied collaboration before he got noticed by the CEO of Louis Vuitton. Virgil brought his unique story as a black man in America with his love for Hip Hop and Streetwear to high fashion.

July 24, 2023

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