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No matter what Virgil Abloh did, he always left his mark. Upon his passing in November, the late fashion designer was widely hailed as a trailblazing figure whose groundbreaking work covered everything from clothes to cars to home products. As the founder of Off-White and the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s men’s line, Abloh inspired innumerable individuals.
To celebrate Abloh’s design inspirations and philanthropic dreams, Sotheby’s, Louis Vuitton, and Nike have collaborated on an auction that will provide the pioneering designer’s biggest fans the chance to own a small part of his legacy. Tomorrow, January 26, bidding will open for the Louis Vuitton and Nike Air Force 1 by Virgil Abloh. The charity auction centers on 200 special edition pairs of shoes that Abloh designed for Louis Vuitton’s spring summer 2022 men’s collection—his last for the famed fashion house before losing a private, two-year battle with cancer last year. Bidding for each pair starts at $2,000.
Sneakerheads and Abloh fans alike will instantly recognize elements of the Renaissance man’s singular vision in the shoe design. Making extensive use of Louis Vuitton’s iconic monogram and Damier pattern, as well as Abloh’s well-known quotation marks, the calf leather sneakers incorporate motifs found throughout the designer’s collections.
Today’s high-end sneakers are just as likely to be displayed in pristine condition as they are to be worn. To that end, each pair comes accompanied with a Louis Vuitton pilot case designed by Abloh. The Monogram Taurillon leather case incorporates Nike elements such as a swoosh luggage tag and the brand’s signature shade of orange, while featuring an internal cushioning system perfect for keeping the kicks in mint condition.
Both Abloh and Sotheby’s had previously worked with Nike to elevate sneaker culture. The multi-hyphenate designer’s first collaboration with the brand dates back to 2017, when Abloh put his own spin on ten of its most iconic silhouettes. Over the next four years, Abloh applied his vision to everything from Nike’s soccer cleats to training apparel, including several pieces designed in conjunction with Serena Williams. Moreover, Sotheby’s staged a “Cult Canvas” auction centered on ultra-rare Nikes in 2020. The auction house has also sold multiple pairs of Michael Jordan’s game-worn Nikes, with one pair selling in October for $1.47 million—a new price record for sneakers.
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Although it’s unlikely that any of the 200 available pairs will command that level of bid, every sale of the Louis Vuitton and Nike Air Force 1s by Virgil Abloh will support a cause that was dear to the designer’s heart: Opening the door for others who look, feel, and dream like he did.
In accordance with Abloh’s wishes (the designer was involved in the early stages of planning the auction), proceeds will benefit The Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund. Built from a desire to make the fashion industry more inclusive and equitable, the Fashion Scholarship Fund–affiliated program connects academically promising Black, African American, and African students with the financial and mentoring resources they need to follow in Abloh’s footsteps and break into the fashion industry.
Bidding will take place via Sothebys.com and run through February 8. However, even those without the $2,000 needed to bring home a pair of their own sneakers can see designs up close at Sotheby’s New York as part of a free and public exhibition that runs through the conclusion of the auction period. Though these shoes may represent some of Abloh’s final designs, his creative legacy will surely live on.
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