Why Would Adidas Release a P50 Million Sneaker?
It is perhaps cynical, but it is life: sneakers are investments. For now, anyway. As the only curve of 2020 that whole-heartedly refused to flatten, hype culture, despite the expert prognostications, has soared. The Dior Air Jordan collab sold out in minutes, only to then land on resale sites at five times the original price. Casablanca x New Balance became a sure-fire way to maximize collectors' profit ceilings. Twice. And now it seems Adidas has entered the auction room with a classic ZX8000 that could fetch up to $1,000,000.
The new 'Porcelain' design has been released in conjunction with Meissen: a storied pottery marque that was the first to sell European hard-paste porcelain as far back as 1708. Despite economic hardship (a World War to start; manufacturing under a Communist regime for main), the brand – best known for creating and exporting fine blue chip china, and a few of those bucolic, ruddy-faced shepherdess figurines on a great aunt's mantlepiece – has survived till the present day. It doesn't immediately sound like a perfect fit for Adidas Originals.
But look to the actual design, and it is a bit arty, and a bit sculptural, and probably fully deserving of its place on the auctioneer's podium when it hits Sotheby's from 7 December (online only, stay alert!) with proceeds to go to the Brooklyn Museum for local youth art programs. The leather is hand-painted and overlaid with a razor-thin porcelain veneer that depicts 15 of the patterns found on Meissen's Krater Vase: a marquee piece of the manufacturer, and one which is limited to a minute production run of just two vases a year. What's more, it took over six months to create the Porcelain sneaker and a year to design in total, with four painters recruited from across Meissen's different departments.
So no, you don't wear them out and kneel on the front steps of a London landmark for the ultimate fire fit pic. They're not to be worn at all. And while sneakers have found themselves to be collectible investments, the Meissen x Adidas Originals Porcelain is a little different. It didn't accrue value by sheer token of its hype, thus, sneaker is art! It has all the hallmarks of classic art proper, and thus, was always art all along.
Bids open at sothebys.com from 7-16 December, with a commercial ZX1000 version to be released in late December.
This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.