Sotheby's Head of Streetwear Discusses the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 Charity Auction
Sotheby's broke the Internet this week when they revealed they'd be auctioning off 200 pairs of the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1 Low – each accompanied by a special pilot case – and donating all the proceeds to Virgil Abloh's 'POST-MODERN' scholarship fund. Covered in LV's signature Damier patterns and monograms and embellished with Abloh's signature quote-wrapped Helvetica text, the shoes are an ultimate expression of the late, great designer's influences, and definitely one of the year's most desirable (and expensive) drops!
Ahead of the auction's opening on January 26, Sneaker Freaker got a hold of Brahm Wachter, a vice president at Sotheby's who leads the company's streetwear and modern collectables division to talk about how the auction came together, the Louis Vuitton x Nike Air Force 1's cultural significance and more.
How did the collaboration between Sotheby's, Louis Vuitton and Nike come together?
Back in 2021, Sotheby's was approached to host an auction for Louis Vuitton and (RED). We sold a sample pair of (RED) x Louis Vuitton LV Trainers signed by Virgil Abloh in support of (RED). It was a great project and our teams stayed in touch afterwards, which led to Louis Vuitton presenting us with this Air Force 1 for an auction of its own.
What was Virgil Abloh's involvement in the project?
Prior to Virgil's passing last November, he was involved in the early organization of the auction and the events around it. Now, it's being done in association with his family – and of course, the proceeds are going to his 'POST-MODERN' scholarship fund.
This Air Force 1 is a shoe with a really big story behind it. It's a lot of sneaker history, hip-hop history and high fashion history distilled into a single design! How do you ensure that the shoe's cultural significance and the story behind it don't get overshadowed by the price tag?
Well, it helps that the cause is a great one. Beyond that, what's cool about an auction is that it enables anyone to participate – to vie for the item until they decide they're out. The starting price of the shoe is reflective of where we felt the market was.
How do you strike a balance between people who are actually bidding on an item and the watchers who just want to learn more and know what's going on?
We make sure to tell the story of whatever we're auctioning off. If someone's just looking at an item and wants to learn more about it, we provide as much information as possible on the cultural significance of the piece and the collaborative process behind it. The exhibition of these Air Force 1s is free and open to the public – we'll welcome anyone who wants to come in and learn on the spot!
Sotheby's has had the pleasure of auctioning off several rare Air Force 1s before – the Scarr's colab, the 'Fukijama Gold', real sneakerhead classics. What about this specific auction is the most special to you guys?
For me, at least, the most special part of this process has been getting to see the quality of these sneakers. We've had the privilege of handling a lot of Nike sneakers at Sotheby's, and to see the materials that were used, the craftsmanship that went into the design and even the pilot case that comes with these up close and personal has been really incredible.
Nicest Air Force 1s you've ever seen?!
I think that it's an unbelievably beautiful example of craftsmanship and innovation.