Phillips’ Sneaker Exhibition Features Special Shoes Designed by Leading Contemporary Artists

In recent years, sneakers have been elevated from wearables to collectibles. They even the auction world and attract the interest of collectors. This fall, Phillips auction house presents Tongue + Chic in Hong Kong, an exhibition that brings together an exciting selection of one-of-a-kind sneakers designed by the most influential contemporary artists, such as KAWS, Damien Hirst, Dave White, Swizz Beatz, Dr. Woo, and Pyer Moss. Here are some highlights.

Tongue + Chic sneaker exhibition

Venue: Phillips Hong Kong
Address: 14/F St.George’s Building, 2 Ice House Street, Central, Hong Kong
Date: 9-25 October

Nikecraft Mars Yard Shoe, Tom Sachs Space Camp | Tom Sachs Collection

After a conversation with Nike CEO Mark Parker on the merits of individual handicraft versus factory production, artist Tom Sachs began working on NikeCraft. According to Sachs' booklet for the NikeCraft project, “These shoes are built to support the bodies of the strongest minds in the aerospace industry.”

Tom Sachs

The design of Mars Yard Shoe

The materials used to make the shoes include Nike Special Forces outsoles and Vectran fabric from the airbags on the Mars Excursion Rover. The limited edition Mars Yard sneakers retain a feeling of hand manufacture and have become one of the most coveted collaborations in sneaker history. This pair of shoes comes directly from the collection of Tom Sachs Studio.

Jordan 4 Retro, KAWS|KAWS Collection

KAWS' XX signature writ large on the heel tab


Brian Donnelly, a.k.a KAWS, is one of today’s most prominent artists. His work ranges from large-scale paintings and sculptures to collectible figurines and fashion collaborations. The KAWS x Air Jordan IV Retros collaboration was released in 2017 in KAWS gray.  The uppers feature KAWS’ distinctive motifs, including his XX signature writ large on the heel tab. The soles are unexpectedly made to glow-in-the-dark and feature KAWS’ cartoon gloved hands. The box, in sleek black, also features signature KAWS graphics.

Damien Hirst x Converse (Product) RED|Converse Archive

Damien Hirst's All You Need is Love

Daimen Hirst

Internationally acclaimed artist Damien Hirst teamed up with Converse to translate his artwork All You Need Is Love into streetwear to raise money for the charity (Product)RED. Crafted out of finely woven textiles and printed using a high-definition laser printer, these limited edition sneakers feature a faithful reproduction of Hirst’s butterfly print on both the inside and outside of the shoes.

Jimm Lasser, Obama Force One|Jimm Lasser Collection

In 2008, Jimm Lasser wanted to mark what he considered to be the most significant moment in the history of his generation, the election of President Obama. He took a pair of iconic Nike Air Force 1s and transformed them into a commemorative sculpture through the addition of customized rubber soles. One sole is meant to be read as though we are behind Obama following his lead and features the text of Clarence Ford. The other is designed to leave an imprint of Obama’s portrait marking his advance.  Lasser is a Creative Director at Wieden + Kennedy whose work, both public and private, pushes boundaries.

Daniel Arsham x adidas Originals New York, Past|Daniel Arsham Collection

Retros—re-releases of culturally important sneakers—are central to current sneaker culture and allow for access to sneakers from the past. Daniel Arsham’s work often focuses on concepts of time and of how objects in the present embody ideas of the past and are destined to be transformed by the future.

Daniel Arsham

For his Past, Present, Future collaboration with Adidas, Arsham chose to reimagine the Adidas New York sneaker which was first released by Adidas in 1983. Arsham’s first sneaker in of a trio, Past, features frayed canvas detailing that suggests age and wear. This detail is at odds with the clean ‘chalk white’ colorway of the release making it appear as though the sneakers have been thrown in the washer or white-washed in the attempt to erase marks from the past. On the midsole, the word ‘Past’ rendered in glow-in-the-dark material is only fleetingly visible. The Past was followed by the release of Present and Future models which each addressed aspects of the passage of time.