Christie’s sneakers and streetwear division faces an uncertain future – ARTnews.com

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A little over a month ago, Christie’s launched a new division aimed at catering to one of the most desirable demographics of auction houses, Millennials and Gen Z shoppers looking to spend their disposable income on hard-to-find products sneakerslike those from a collaboration between Louis Vuitton Nike Air Force 1. But now that department, branded as Department X, seems to be on shaky ground.

Part of the division’s uncertain future no doubt stems from the cancellation of what was supposed to be its first event: a private sale that was supposed to take place included the rare Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype. Titled “Ye Walks,” sales were halted after a spate of anti-Semitic comments KanyeWest (which now simply goes through Ye). The backlash in the fashion industry was quick, with brands like Balenciaga, Adidas and Gap parting ways with him.

Although the art world was slow To denounce Ye and his remarks, almost every mention of Ye has been deleted from Christie’s website, and Division X’s Instagram account is now offline. Christie’s confirmed the sale was canceled and that the house “is not selling any material from this material, nor do we intend to,” according to a statement first released by . Artnet News.

One of the two pairs of shoes up for sale was a pair Ye wore to the 2008 Grammy Awards had sold to the investment platform at Sotheby’s for $1.8 million in 2021 Rarely. Christie’s had given away the sneakers an estimate before the sale between $2.5 million and $3.5 million.

However, a spokesman for Christie’s said ARTnews that the house is not out of the sneaker game yet. Apart from a sale of sneakers u collectibles The house planned for December uses “the opportunity to reconsider the marketing of the department”.

The first signs of trouble for the fledgling division appeared less than two weeks into its existence, after Christie’s began working with it Streetwear brand High Snobiety created expensive swags with the words “Art Handler” on $145 sweatshirts and $50 tote bags as part of Department X’s marketing campaign. A group of art dealers went online to criticize the collaboration, berating it for promoting “class tourism” and belittling an often underpaid and invisible sector of the art market. One handler went so far as to Instagram a parody shirt that read, “Christie’s Exploits Art Handlers.”

After just a few hours of internet chatter, Christie’s deleted Instagram posts and pages on its website announcing its collaboration with High Snobiety. The following day, a Christie’s executive issued a personal apology to arts administration staff, and the house released a statement that said, “We sincerely apologize to our colleagues and anyone who has felt offended by our recent marketing campaign. We take this matter seriously and are taking appropriate action to ensure this does not happen again.”

While Christie’s looks for a marketing partner who can catapult Department X into the collector and streetwear stratosphere, sneaker resale sites like StockX have seen the price of Yeezy-branded sneakers rise and fall since the controversy began, according to a New York Times story on the Post-Yeezy future of the sneaker verse.

But the StockX model is exactly what Christie’s wants: the brand has went on from just trading collectable sneakers to selling streetwear, clothing, collectibles and even electronics to give the younger group an opportunity invest or collect outside the walls of the traditional auction house or Wall Street itself. How Christie’s fares in this area – with or without Department X – remains to be seen.

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