As its name suggests, Sneakertopia is dedicated to sneaker culture.
“It’s an immersive pop-up art museum that we’ve developed and created and curated for the purpose of presenting sneaker-themed installations for museum lovers,” shared chief executive officer Steve Harris. The exhibit opens in Los Angeles on Oct. 25. “It’s the crossroads of where we are right now with museums and retail space. And we are working with some really great artists….We’ve curated 20 artists, who are all sneakerheads and have worked with the biggest sneaker brands in the world.”
Those artists include Michael Murphy, Jonas Never, James Haunt, Ben Fearnley, David Kaul, Stomping Ground Customs, Jason Dussault, Kickstradomis, Mimi Yoon, Ricardo Gonzalez and Tommii Lim, who were brought on to create art and activations for Sneakertopia. It’s a journey of sneaker culture that highlights sports, music, film, art and streetwear, added curatorial director Justin Fredericks.
“We’re talking about a 16-foot mural of Michael Jordan…dunking you while you’re standing on a Michael Jordan court, a map of 40-foot mural of the biggest skaters in sneaker history, from Tony Hawk to Steve Caballero, skating above you while you’re standing on a 20-foot skateboard deck,” said Fredericks. “And then, throughout the exhibit, we’re also installing highly secured, clear shoe boxes that are filled with the most important sneakers in history, most important in sports history, music history, film history and so forth.”
Inside a 15,000-square-foot space, Sneakertopia will be located at HHLA — the entertainment, retail and dining space formerly known as The Promenade at Howard Hughes. The experience will be open daily (except on Tuesdays) with hours between 10 a.m. and 9 p.m. General admission costs $38 (and $23 for kids four to 12 years old).
“We chose a price point that was affordable for multiple people to come at the same time,” said Harris. “This is a family-friendly event, where people will come together. We didn’t want to price it out where it was too expensive.”
Los Angeles was the right location for the launch, he said, because “between the entire country, we felt like, no pun intended, the footprint here was a really great place to start. There are a lot of great sneakerheads.…We felt that L.A. had one of the biggest footprints, that we would be able to have more exposure.”
They plan to take the pop-up elsewhere, he shared: “Between New York, Miami and three other places, we’ll do this at least three, four more times in the course of 2020.”
Admitted sneakerheads themselves, the duo reflected on the evolution of the footwear.
“The first branded sneaker was the Chuck Taylor,” said Harris. “It is a badge and symbol of your achievement as an artist or an athlete to have a sneaker named after you that you designed. And look where sneakers have evolved in fashion and culture where Gucci and Balenciaga and all the high-end fashion houses have sneakers. It’s an item that is so democratic that it transcends economic and class and race and is such a global article of clothing.”
“Also, from the collector world, you see sneakers being auctioned in some of the biggest art auctions,” added Fredericks. “I think there was one that was recently auctioned off for about $450,000.” Indeed, according to Sotheby’s, Nike’s rare “Moon Shoe” sold for $437,500 this year, breaking the world auction record for a pair of sneakers.
“A lot of sneaker collectors never even wear their sneakers,” he continued. “They put them on shelves, on the walls as art pieces.”