When Virgil Abloh dropped ‘The Ten’ — a representation of 10 iconic Nike trainer styles — the SNKRS app crashed due to heavy online traffic. Since then, Virgil Abloh’s designs have been a collector’s item. To celebrate the late fashion designer’s work, Louis Vuitton collaborated with Sotheby’s, the world’s premier destination for art and luxury, to auction 200 special-edition pairs of Louis Vuitton and Nike ‘Air Force 1’ by Virgil Abloh sneakers with Louis Vuitton pilot cases.

Abloh unveiled a collaboration with Nike and Louis Vuitton as part of the French Maison’s Spring/Summer 2022 show — an ‘Air Force 1’ silhouette accented with the two brands’ design signatures. In January, Sotheby’s announced an auction of 200 pairs of the sneakers in limited- edition colourways. Bidding on the shoes fetched $25.3 million, more than eight times the auction’s overall $3 million high estimates, with proceeds going to the The Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund.

The sneakers were made with materials employed in Abloh’s Louis Vuitton Men’s collections, fusing the trainer’s classic codes with the insignia and materials of Louis Vuitton in homage to the hip-hop culture that shaped him. Entirely made in precious calf leather, the sneakers were embellished with Louis Vuitton’s emblematic Monogram and Damier patterns, with 4 natural cowhide piping. The shoes were styled with his signature quotation marks echoing the written graphics Abloh used to adorn his work. The individual styles designed for the show were made by Louis Vuitton in its shoe manufacture in Fiesso d’Artico, Italy. Each pair was sold with an auction- exclusive Louis Vuitton pilot case, which also appeared in the Louis Vuitton Spring- Summer 2022 collection. The pilot case was reinterpreted from Maison’s archive in an iconic orange colourway and was made of Taurillon Monogram Leather. It features Louis Vuitton’s classic S lock closure in white metal finishing, a luggage tag in the shape of the Nike Swoosh, and adapts to every shoe size, based on an internal cushion system.

Noted as the most valuable charitable sale at Sotheby’s in nearly a decade, the collectors from Asia comprised 40 per cent of the buyers, and bidding was amalgamated across 50 countries. This auction attracted a younger clientele, with more than two-thirds of all bidders under 40, and more than half of all buyers under 40. A significant majority of bidders and buyer’s participated in a Sotheby’s sale for the first time, with more than 75 per cent of buyers new to the auction house.

Speaking on the record-breaking auction, Michael Burke, Chairman and CEO of Louis Vuitton, said: “We are thrilled that the record-breaking fundraising auction for Virgil Abloh’s Post Modern Scholarship Fund has generated such exceptional results. We are proud that thousands of students will be able to benefit from the proceeds, allowing us to continue to uphold Virgil’s mission to inspire and support future generations.”