Kicks covered in Shantell Martin scribbles, football boots patterned in Kehinde Wiley print and a pair of intricately embroidered Nike Lebrons – these are just a few of the shoes gathered together for Tongue + Chic, an exhibition celebrating sneaker culture.
The trainers have been borrowed from artists and collectors as well as retrieved from the depths of brand archives for the show, which is open at 450 Park Avenue until the end of August. Many of the shoes have a big-name artist attached, with trainers designed by Jenny Holzer, Takashi Murakami and Damien Hirst, among others, on display.
Although these rarely seen sneakers won’t be up for sale, another pair of one-off trainers will be auctioned by Phillips. Designed by Dominic Ciambrone – AKA the Shoe Surgeon – the shoes were originally part of an anti-slavery campaign by the Thomson Reuters Foundation.
Hidden inside the trainers are a set of facts about the realities of modern day slavery, designed to encourage consumers to recognise the human cost of throwaway fashion. The money raised from their sale will be donated to Thomson Reuters Foundation’s anti-slavery initiatives.
On the more frivolous end of the scale, trainer enthusiasts can also expect sneaker selfie booths, social media contests, and panel discussions as part of the exhibition.
The Tongue + Chic exhibition is open from 16 July – 31 August at 450 Park Avenue