The Royal College of Art (RCA) has announced a full tuition scholarship named in honor of the late American fashion designer, artist, architect, and creative director Virgil Abloh. The scholarship totaling £35,000 ($39,865) will be awarded to a low-income Black British student currently enrolled in the RCA’s School of Design. It will cover full tuition and fees and will be applicable to all areas of postgraduate studies including Fashion, Textiles, Design Products, Service Design and Intelligent Mobility.
While the visionary designer was widely known for his creative clothing venture Off-White and multi-disciplinary creative studio Alaska Alaska, he also had ties to the RCA, where he served as an Honorary Visiting Professor in 2020.
In addition to free tuition, the RCA Virgil Abloh Scholarship recipient will receive first hand business experience, networking opportunities, and the support of British fashion designer Dr. Samuel Ross, founder of the fashion label A-COLD-WALL* and Abloh’s mentee and first design assistant.
“Virgil Abloh’s drive has always been linked to bettering others, bettering society, and communicating an optimistic future with grace, a radical spirit and intellectual prowess that operates on a diagonal, through all facets of society,” Dr. Ross stated in a press release. “Without a doubt this philosophy will be expanded upon and continue to shift the behavior of the creative industry & physical spaces, whilst bettering key communities Virgil dedicated much of his time to supporting.”
The RCA Virgil Abloh Scholarship was established in collaboration with the designer’s widow, Shannon Abloh, the Fashion Scholarship Fund, and the contribution of an anonymous donor. Part of the donation will be allocated to the Samuel Ross Black British Artist Grant Programme. Samuel Ross Associates in collaboration with the college will scout and sponsor creative talent from Black British communities underrepresented in the arts.
“Over the years, the RCA and Virgil formed a beautiful relationship based on a shared appreciation of collaboration, creative vision, and of course, education. We know that the RCA Virgil Abloh Scholarship will break down financial barriers to fulfilling creative potential and empower talented young individuals to dream even bigger,” Abloh’s wife said.
The new scholarship is part of a larger initiative at RCA to increase the number of scholarships for low-income students. For this academic year, more than 180 scholarships, awards, and prizes are available to students at the college who come from underrepresented communities and face financial hardship, individuals from Black African and Caribbean diaspora heritage, and those living with physical or sensory disabilities.
“Virgil’s creativity and generosity will continue to have an impact at the RCA through this remarkable scholarship. I continue to be inspired by Virgil and believe that his curiosity and entrepreneurialism will live on, inspiring generations of innovators to come.”
More information on the scholarship and how to apply can be found here.