Although it’s only January, Louis Vuitton and Nike may have just dropped the most sought-after sneaker release of the year. To kick off Louis Vuitton’s Spring/Summer 2022 collection by the late-designer Virgil Abloh, the two titans of the apparel industry announced that a new expression of the “Air Force 1” will be released for the Virgil Abloh charity auction.

Starting January 26 and running through February 8 on Sotheby’s website, 200 exclusive pairs of these stunning, ornate sneakers will be sold to benefit The Virgil Abloh “Post-Modern” Scholarship Fund, which in partnership with the Fashion Scholarship Fund, supports the education of academically promising students of Black, African American, or African descent.

Before passing this past November, Abloh, who acted as Louis Vuitton’s Men’s Artistic Director, was involved in the early organization of the auction and its surrounding events. The auction will take place in association with his family, with all the related events and releases also being housed on Sotheby’s website.

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As a Mecca for New York’s luxury art and culture, Sotheby’s feels like the perfect setting to drop the exquisite sneakers. With a starting bid of $2,000, the shoes themselves are made with precious calf leather and are embellished with Louis Vuitton’s emblematic Monogram and Damier patterns with natural cowhide piping. Additionally, each pair will be sold with a Louis Vuitton pilot case, also from the Louis Vuitton Spring-Summer 2022 collection, which was reinterpreted from the Maison’s archive in an iconic orange colourway and made of Monogram Taurillon Leather.

And while the sneakers will justifiably grab the headlines, the pilot case is a stunning accessory in itself. Featuring Louis Vuitton’s classic S lock closure in white metal finishing and a luggage tag in the shape of the iconic Nike Swoosh, the case adapts to every shoe size, based on an internal cushion system, and will be exclusive to the auction.

The release will celebrate not only Abloh’s lifelong commitment to innovative design but also the 40th anniversary of Nike’s original “Air Force 1.” 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 the beloved designer. The shoes were then styled with his signature quotation marks echoing the written graphics Abloh used to adorn his work. From the sneaker’s intricate details to its bold, innovative packaging to its commitment towards supporting the next generation of Black creatives, everything about the collaboration acts as the perfect homage to Abloh’s legacy.

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