Virgil Abloh’s last project with Burton is a manifesto for diversity in snowboarding

By Jeff Beer

March 15, 2022

Virgil Abloh’s last project with Burton is a manifesto for diversity in snowboarding

The late Virgil Abloh was many things: artist, architect, engineer, designer, fashion designer, creative director, entrepreneur. He was also a snowboarder.

Now, four months after his death, Burton Snowboards is launching a limited collection and an online auction it created with the designer over the past year. On March 15, the brand is auctioning off the 10 limited-edition Burton c/o Virgil Abloh “Manifesto” snowboards, which will go up for auction for 48 hours, with bids starting at $1,977 (nodding to the year Burton was founded). The Manifesto snowboard graphic is black, all-caps lettering on a white board that reads, “Product that by its existence not only stands as evidence for the evolution of a subculture and sport but becomes an artifact which proves that diversity within snowboarding is not only an idea, it’s actually happening, care of Burton and Virgil Abloh.”

Proceeds from the auction will benefit Abloh’s “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, which offers fashion-industry scholarships to students of Black, African American, or African descent. Burton has also committed to donating $300,000 over three years to causes that increase BIPOC representation in snowboarding. After the auction, Burton will have a selection of snowboards and other merch from the collection on Burton’s website.

This is the second time Abloh has collaborated with Burton. Back in 2018, the designer worked with the brand and Vogue US on a collection focused on women’s designs for the slopes. Burton’s global chief creative officer, AJ Margelist, says this new project started with a phone call in October 2020. “Before we even started thinking about products, we thought about how we can take the next step in inclusion and diversity (in snowboarding),” says Margelist. “These are goals Burton has anyway, but with the support of Virgil as a Black rider himself, it was an opportunity to create something bigger than a traditional product collaboration.”

It started with an ideology and led to the manifesto statement. “It’s not just an idea, but something we push, support, and fight [for] to take a stand,” says Margelist, adding that the scholarship fund and brand donations were always part of the plan. “We didn’t want to make it a commercial project because it’s a very important topic, and so we wanted to support it with money to make things happen.”

Burton founded the Chill Foundation in 1995 to promote snowboarding to young people of all backgrounds, and like many companies added more commitments around diversity and inclusion in 2020 after George Floyd’s killing and the subsequent discussions around systemic racism. Current Burton team riders Brolin Mawejje and Zeb Powell are two of the most exciting talents in the culture, but there are still very few pro snowboarders of color. In a statement, the 20-year-old Powell said, “I try to leave my impact on snowboarders just like Virgil left an impact on me. Keeping up with me. Taking the time to talk, it meant so, so much.”

Earlier this year, Ride Snowboards launched its own board collaboration with Abloh, who worked with Russell Winfield, widely considered the first-ever Black pro rider, to raise money for the Black-led organizations Hoods to Woods, The Service Board, and SHRED Foundation.

For Burton’s Margelist, it was a unique opportunity to work with an icon and create something that would add to his legacy. “We’re just super honored and humbled we had this opportunity,” he says. “Virgil wanted us to celebrate this and use it to talk about this very important topic.”