If you’re a sports fan, you’ve probably been tempted to buy a pair of Air Jordans. Maybe you succumbed to that temptation many, many times. 

Some would say that indulging in overpriced gym shoes is a bad habit, while others consider them pop culture masterpieces. 

Can sneakers be a work of art? You can probably guess our answer, but our argument is pretty persuasive. 

They’re All About the Artist

The shoes are cool, but what makes Air Jordans legendary is the respect and awe we have for the greatest player the game has ever seen. 

Depending on your passions, you can buy shoes designed by Drake, Eminem, Dutch master Piet Parra, Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto, the late fashion visionary Alex McQueen—even a pair of Adidas from the mind of Kylie Jenner, if that’s where your taste level is at (no judgment). 

Kanye West once gave the world $7,500 bright red Yeezy shoes with gold zipper styling. 

They’re Rare

In 2017, an edition of navy velvet Air Jordans was created to celebrate Derek Jeter’s retirement and was sold in a pop-up auction near Yankee Stadium. They’re valued at $40,000 today because there were just five pairs. 

Bidders at a Paris auction had to fight for the only 20 pairs of the VLONE x Nike Air Force 1 High, which would be valued around $8,000 if you could find any. 

Will Kanye keep putting out shoes? He’s easily distracted by politics and starting religions, so probably not. Better get them while you can. 

They’re Avant-Garde

Once upon a time, the world was obsessed with keeping their expensive kicks as white as the virgin snow. Now, sneakers have exploded in color and texture. 

They’re made of astroturf, flowers, fish tanks, as well as the skins of pythons, ostriches, and alligators—and it takes a lot more than a toothbrush to keep them pristine. 

Chanel makes them in fur; Christian Louboutin works with spiked neoprene. Several styles are crafted from the hides of sacrificed teddy bears. One artist upcycles Nike with vintage circuit boards, but boy, are they heavy. 

They’re Art Because the Art World Says So

In 2000, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art hosted an exhibition for “Sneakers As Art,” focusing on the “design afoot” in athletic shoes between 1995 and 2000. 

Did you miss that one? Don’t worry about it, because you’re living in the golden age of athletic footwear design. 

To answer the question, then: Can sneakers be a work of art? Yes, my friend, and you should be collecting the finest. 


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