IKEA Democratizes Art With Virgil Abloh’s Street Cred

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  • IKEA’s signature blue Frakta bag has evolved into a luxury brown carryall
  • Virgil Abloh’s IKEA collection will be out in 2019

From styling rappers to heading up Louis Vuitton’s (LVMH +0.64%) menswear collection, Virgil Abloh is now bringing Off-White’s street attitude to the world of furniture. He’s partnering with Swedish furniture maker IKEA, which will try to capitalize on his urban popularity in the same way Nike (NKE -1.68%) did. What’s the fate of the Virgil Abloh collaboration machine when it comes to furniture?

Why This Matters: Most of the brands with whom Abloh has partnered are accessible to the average consumer. For IKEA this is a good thing because the potential reach and profitability of an Abloh collaboration could be massive, due to his combined social media reach of about 3 million people. Now that Abloh and Louis Vuitton are inextricably linked, the issue will be finding a harmonious balance between overexposure and exclusivity as he launches his IKEA collection. This is something Louis Vuitton has arguably struggled with in the past.

Under his influence IKEA’s signature blue Frakta shopping bag has evolved into a more concretely conceptual manifestation of a luxury brown carryall. Likewise, the rug he’s designed displays the allusion to traditional oriental rugs impeded by a grayscale. Abloh’s designs tend to relate to form and function, while also displaying an awareness of contemporary art theory. Perhaps this is where the true value lies in this furniture collaboration.

What’s Next: The entire Virgil Abloh and IKEA collection won’t be ready until 2019. However, the store has done other collaborations with designers, like the Överallt project with African artists which will also be out in 2019.

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