Christie’s launches ‘Department X’ as collectible sneakers, streetwear boom

Nike Unreleased Air Jordan VI Donda West Sneaker


Christie’s launches a new division to capitalize on the booming market for collectible sneakers, streetwear and sports history.

The auction house announced its Department X on Monday, giving Air Jordans and Supreme skate decks their own category, alongside Impressionist & Modern Art and Old Masters. The move is the latest sign that a wave of younger collectors is redefining the world of collectibles.

“Looking at the auction world and the way collectors are evolving and the new collectors entering the market, we felt that this is a strong and robust marketplace,” said Caitlin Donovan, Christie’s Head of Handbags, Streetwear and Sneakers, who leads the department. will suffer. X. “It’s only going to get stronger, so we felt it was time to head into this new market.”

Department X will sell rare collectibles in music, fashion, art and sports history, but sneakers and streetwear will be among the biggest categories. It will hold online auctions throughout the year, with live previews in New York, and private sales exhibitions.

Sneakers and sports collectibles have exploded in popularity and value in recent years. In June, Christie’s held a “Six Rings Legacy of the GOAT” sale dedicated to the career of basketball legend Michael Jordan, with sales of nearly $1.5 million. And Sotheby’s this month sold Jordan’s “Last Dance” jersey − from its 1998 NBA Finals Game 1 for $10.1 million, a new record for sports memorabilia.

A collection of 200 pairs of Louis Vuitton and Nike Air Force 1 sneakers, designed by the late designer Virgil Abloh, sold at Sotheby’s earlier this year for $25 million. That was more than eight times the estimate, with one pair selling for $350,000.

Sotheby’s launched its streetwear category in December, with most buyers being between the ages of 20 and 40 and 80% of bidders new to the auction house.

Kanye West Grammy Worn, Nike Air Yeezy 1 Sneaker Prototype


As part of the Department X launch, Christie’s will be holding a private sale exhibit titled “Ye Walks,” honoring two pairs of Kanye West’s sneaker designs. The Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype was the first West designed with Nike. The Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI is made in memory of West’s mother.

Hats, shirts, skate decks and even pinball machines from Supreme have also continued to rise in price. In 2020, Christie’s offered a collection of 253 Supreme T-shirts for $2 million.

Donovan said younger collectors are drawn to the images and culture they grew up with. Streetwear, rare sneakers and memorabilia tied to sports icons are likely to increase in value as younger collectors gain wealth.

“We go for what pulls on our own past experiences and heartstrings,” she said. “So for these collectors in their thirties and forties, it’s a celebration of their culture.”

Some collectors say six-figure sneakers and t-shirts are the product of a speculative bubble, but Donovan said the rise of so-called “hype-wear” is likely to continue despite falling inventories and fears of a recession.

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