Christie’s is going deeper into the streetwear industry with a new auction vertical.
The auction house unveiled the launch of Department X, its new department that specializes in auctions of luxury streetwear, sneakers and sports collectibles, on Monday. Christie’s Department X will host live and online auctions, as well as private selling exhibitions, and focus on selling items across fashion, music, culture and sports.
“We at Christie’s have a pulse on the market and I think it’s something that we see across every department and with the way that luxury has kind of grown and transformed,” said Caitlin Donovan, Christie’s head of handbags, streetwear and sneakers. “We‘ve watched the classic luxury departments start incorporating these elements of sneaker culture and streetwear through the leadership and the guidance of people like Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones who have come into these really storied, iconic fashion houses and brought in this influence. We’ve seen it across jewelry departments and our timepieces department and it really made sense as I was watching this market grow and grow that Christie’s would follow suit, because not only do I see this as a very expansive and important department to grow into, but also these collectors are serious and educated.”
Donovan said she’s seen an increase in interest among Christie’s clients in luxury streetwear and sneakers over the last few years, including new clients that are slowly building their collections. She believes Department X will continue bringing new and younger clients to Christie’s with auctions highlighting items from topical and influential figures.
Department X is kicking off with a private selling exhibition, called “Ye Walks,” which auctions two of Kanye West’s sneakers. The first is the Nike Air Yeezy 1 Prototype Sneaker, which is the first sneaker West designed with Nike creative director Mark Smith and designer Tiffany Beers. West wore the sneakers during his performance at the 50th Grammy Awards in 2008.
The second style is the Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI Sneaker, which Nike created in memory of West’s late mother, Dr. Donda West. At the time of her passing, Nike created six official styles for West and his close friends and family. The sneakers were never available for purchase by the public.
“I feel like Kanye — and similar to figures like Virgil Abloh and Kim Jones — he’s really transcended so many different genres, but he has really had such a lasting and important impact on sneaker culture,” Donovan said. “He came out with this amazing model that has evolved and shifted and he’s created [sneakers] in numbers where people can actually buy them, but they’re also collectibles. He’s such an important figure in music and pop culture and [the auction] is a great example of all the areas we hope to be hitting with our sales as we continue to grow this department.”
The establishment of Department X comes after Christie’s successful “Six Rings — Legacy of the GOAT” online-only auction hosted earlier this year that was dedicated to Michael Jordan’s career. The auction had a 100 percent sell-through rate and raised roughly $1.49 million in sales.
Donovan said she expects Christie’s legacy and authority in the auction industry to help set it apart from other luxury resellers that offer streetwear.
“What Christie’s does best is our curation and our storytelling,” she said. “We plan to have these amazing auctions that are really tightly curated and that are well-priced and they make sense in the market, but then we do a really nice job of storytelling. We want people to understand the importance and the significance behind collecting sneakers, streetwear and sports or other cultural collectibles.”
Christie’s will start Departent X with the “Ye Walks” private exhibition and continue hosting other live previews and private selling events in New York throughout the year.