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‘Everyone wants them’: the sneakers that sold for $150,000 | Men’s shoes

Ohen a trainer commands a six-figure price at their own Sotheby’s auction, you know they’ve transcended everyday shoe status. Indeed, no sane sneakerhead – if such a thing exists – would wear one of 40 rare Nike Air Force 1 sneakers that sold Tuesday at Sotheby’s New York’s »40 for 40sale (supposedly because this year marks the shoe’s 40th anniversary).

AF1 is not just a trainer; it is a cultural phenomenon. Designed as a basketball shoe by Bruce Kilgore in 1982, it was to be replaced by the AF2, AF3, etc., but consumer demand paid for it. “It’s the perfect design in its simplicity,” says Simon Wood, the founder of The Sneaker Freaker Magazine.

It’s also an incredibly well-connected shoe, with strong ties to NBA stars, hip-hop royalty and high-fashion brands. All of this, Wood says, “seeps into creating an aura that’s far more dynamic than the shoe itself.” So which of the world’s most coveted AF1s turned out to be the most desirable of them all?

Sold for $151,200 (about £123,000)

Why spend six figures on a shoe you can’t – or shouldn’t – wear? The answer is Virgil Abloh, the pioneering American fashion designer and director of menswear at Louis Vuitton, who died last year. “He had the brilliant idea of ​​marrying two opposite worlds, street culture and luxury,” says Mathieu Le Maux, French journalist and author of 1,000 sneakers. “He was an artist, and now he’s a legend – that’s why everyone wants him.”

When the monogrammed calfskin shoe was released in February, one pair – a perfectly proportioned UK size 3 small – sold for $352,800. Even at that price, they’re an investment, says Wood: “Like the last thing Abloh did with Nike, it will still be historically significant 30 years from now.” With only 200 pairs in existence, it’s all about rarity. “Some could burn in a house fire, or they could be worn down and destroyed,” Wood says. Truly, a sneakerhead’s worst nightmare.

Sold for $35,280

Nike x Off-White Air Force 1 'University Gold'

This already good looking shoe features several additional layers of street cred, both visible and invisible. First of all, if you miss that this is another design by Abloh (under the auspices of his cult streetwear label Off-White), he has his name written on it, with his iconic quotation marks .

Additionally, Abloh dedicated this pair to American DJ and tastemaker Bobbito Garcia. Not only was Garcia, as co-host of New York’s legendary Stretch Armstrong and Bobbito Show, responsible for putting unsigned artists such as Nas, Jay-Z and Eminem on the map, but he’s also an aficionado of music. ‘AF1 (and has collaborated with Nike himself).

There’s also a high-art association, with the shoe “synchronized” with Abloh’s Figures of Speech exhibit at the Boston Institute of Contemporary Art, according to Sotheby’s. These shoes have since been known as “ICA”. All this adds to the halo. “The price reflects that,” says Wood. “That’s way above what this shoe would actually be worth.”

Sold for $35,280

Nike Air Force 1 Low Lux Alligator

“You’ll never see Nike make these shoes again,” Wood says. Considering they are made with alligator skin, many will be happy to hear that. It was produced in only 25 copies in the 2000s, before many fashion brands accepted stop using exotic animal skins. “Owning them is a little painful,” says Wood. “If you travel with them, you have to take the paperwork with you everywhere [to prove its legal origin]. So that adds another dimension to them.

Sold for $21,420

Sample Nike Air Force 1 Low Retro EKIN

This is one for the real trainer nerds. The Ekin – “Nike” backwards – is, according to the Sotheby’s catalog, “symbolic of knowledge ‘back and forth’ of Nike employees’ products”. Ekins is a dedicated subset of Nike employees who have been known to tattoo themselves with the reverse logo.

This shoe, produced in 2019, pays homage to them and features Nike geekeries such as the upside-down logo, the liner that says “For Ekin feet only” and the “E4L” slogan, which represents the “Ekin for Life” mantra. . The question is: are you Ekin enough for these shoes?

Sold for $21,420

Air Force 1 Shady Files

Unless you were on Eminem’s team, there was no chance of getting your hands on these all-white AF1s when they were released in 2003, in celebration of the rapper’s fifth album, Encore. “Friends and family pairs are special editions designed for the inner circle of a celebrity or brand and are much rarer than general release pairs,” says Brahm Wachter, Head of Streetwear and Objects. modern collection at Sotheby’s. It was the whitest pair of sneakers in the auction. As Le Maux puts it: “All purists will tell you that the Air Force 1 is white – and only white.”

Hazel J. Edmonds

The author Hazel J. Edmonds