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Luxury Streetwear Goes on the Auction Block at Christie’s

Sourcing Journal
Sourcing Journal
 2021-11-30
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Michael Jordan’s Air Jordan XIIIs, Kanye West’s bulletproof vest and Supreme skateboard decks are among the highly coveted items available for purchase in an online -only auction at Christie’s New York.

The famed auction house announced the debut of “Handbags x Hype: The Luxury Remix,” a curated collection that showcases society’s new take on luxury, defined by streetwear’s rising momentum and the growing casualization trend.

“With streetwear and sneaker culture reinventing how we define high-end luxury, we introduce a new version of a luxury sale at Christie’s,” said Caitlin Donovan, Christie’s New York head of department, handbags, streetwear and sneakers, adding that it “[appeals] to today’s younger and more diverse audience of collectors, as well [offers] the staple luxury icons which shaped our category since the inception in 2014.”

Recent data from retail analytics firm Edited points to streetwear’s growing presence in designer collections , noting that the pandemic-fueled shift to casualization has put the category on a pedestal. Sneakers—which make up a major part of the Christie’s Handbags x Hype collection—are the top stocked men’s and women’s footwear style for luxury brands.

The merging categories—and the way they’re being auctioned in an online-only fashion—are perhaps most appealing to millennials and Gen Z, both of which are new and highly sought-after demographics for auction houses. Incorporating luxury streetwear into their collections could pan out well for the future. Edited reported that streetwear, which is guilty of hyping up demand for short-lived trends, will likely get a more sustainable, selective makeover in the next year. It projects the future of streetwear to include fewer weekly drop cycles in order to encourage less consumption and avoid overproduction—hence driving up the value of what already exists.

Christie’s has already seen success with the luxury streetwear market with its record-setting sale of a pair of red, black and white Air Jordan 1’s said to be worn by the Chicago Bulls icon Michael Jordan during an exhibition game in Italy in 1985, which achieved a price of $615,000 in 2020.

The same energy flows into the Handbags x Hype: The Luxury Remix collection, which features a pair of game-worn and signed Air Jordan XIIIs (valued at $300,000-$500,000) from Jordan’s last regular season game of the Chicago Bull’s championship season. Christie’s is calling it one of the most collectible pairs of sneakers to ever come to market. The lineup also features complete sets of Kanye West Adidas Yeezy 350s ($30,000-$50,000), released between 2015 and 2020, and Virgil Abloh Nike Off-White sneakers ($60,000 -$90,000) released between 2017 and 2020. Abloh died on Sunday after privately battling a rare form of cancer for years.

In-demand handbags like the rare Himalaya Birkin 35 (valued at $80,000-$100,000) and a Rouge Vif Veau Doblis Kelly 25 with diamond and 18k gold hardware ($20,000-$30,000) are also included in the auction.

Cult streetwear brand Supreme, which just recently joined VF Corp. for a cool $2.1 billion, is also a major brand featured in the collection, with eclectic collaboration pieces like a Supreme Pinball Machine ($20,000-$30,000) and Honda Motorcycle ($15,000-$20,000) up for grabs.

The Christie’s presentation is open for bidding online from Nov. 24-Dec. 9, and the full selection will be open for in-person preview in New York City from Dec. 3-7.

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