Christie’s Dives Deep Into Emerging Collecting Categories—Sneakers and NFTs | Kanebridge News
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Christie’s Dives Deep Into Emerging Collecting Categories—Sneakers and NFTs

Wed, Sep 28, 2022 8:34amGrey Clock 2 min

Christie’s launched two major initiatives this week in an attempt to cater to younger collectors: Department X, which will focus on streetwear and pop culture, and Christie’s 3.0, a platform to handle NFT sales fully on blockchain.

Department X, launched Monday, will be led by Caitlin Donovan, a founding member and current head of the department of handbags and accessories at Christie’s Americas. She has been working on specialized sales of sneakers, streetwear, and other luxury collectibles over the past three years.

“With exciting sales that will cross several genres of popular culture and collecting–music, fashion, and sports history—I am excited for new and existing clients of Christie’s to embark on this journey with us,” she said in a news release Tuesday.

The department will hold online auctions, with previews in New York, as well as private selling exhibitions throughout the year. The debuting private selling exhibition will showcase two pairs of Nike Air Yeezy sneakers designed by rapper and fashion designer Kanye West.

One pair, the Nike Air Yeezy 1 prototype was the first sneaker West designed with Nike creative director Mark Smith and designer Tiffany Beers. The other pair, the Nike Donda West Air Jordan VI, was designed for West’s mother and never released for public sale.

Christie’s is a latecomer to the emerging category of sneakers and streetwear. Its largest competitor Sotheby’s established a department dedicated to this collecting space–with online sales only–in the first half of 2020. Bonhams has had a department handling auctions, both live and online, of pop culture collectibles, including film, entertainment, music, and sporting memorabilia, since the early 1980s.

On Tuesday, Christie’s launched Christie’s 3.0, a platform to enable NFT sales fully on the Ethereum blockchain network. The marketplace was developed in collaboration with three leading companies in the Web3 community: Manifold, Chainalysis, and Spatial.

The new platform has incorporated compliance and taxation tools and will feature high-quality digital artworks and curated collections, according to Nicole Sales Giles, Christie’s director of digital art sales.

The inaugural sale, running from Sept. 18 through Oct. 11, will feature nine NFTs specifically created by visual artist Diana Sinclair to launch Christie’s 3.0. Estimates range from ETH 4 to 8 (US$5,245 to US$10,489).

Sinclair, 18, was recognized by Fortune as one of the top 50 most influential people in the NFT space. She is the curator behind Digital Diaspora, a Juneteenth exhibition that highlights the work of Black artists and creatives in the NFT community.

Last year, she also collaborated with the estate of Whitney Houston to create a digital video featuring rare archival photos of the late singer that sold for approximately US$1 million.


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The Lipstick Index Is Back

Sales of the cosmetic product are a bright spot in an otherwise bleak discretionary-goods environment

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Masks off, lipstick index on.

In a gloomy economy, consumers might cut back on other discretionary purchases but will keep shelling out for small luxuries such as lipstick—or so goes the theory. “When lipstick sales go up, people don’t want to buy dresses,” Leonard Lauder, then-chairman of Estée Lauder who is widely credited for coming up with the so-called “lipstick index,” told The Wall Street Journal in 2001.

L’Oréal Chief Executive Nicolas Hieronimus called this out during the company’s earnings call in October, noting that a luxury lipstick or mascara is only €30, making it an “affordable treat.” Sales at L’Oréal rose 9.1% in the third quarter compared with a year earlier despite slower sales in China due to Covid-related lockdowns. Coty, maker of CoverGirl makeup, said organic sales grew 9% over the same period.

Beauty sales have also been a rare bright spot for retailers: Target said beauty category sales grew roughly 15% in its quarter ended Oct. 29 compared with a year earlier, with Ulta Beauty shops in Target tripling their total sales volume over that period.

While Macy’s namesake stores saw comparable-store sales decline last quarter, its beauty-focused Bluemercury chain saw same-store sales grow 14% last quarter compared with a year earlier. Kohl’s locations with Sephora are outperforming the rest of the department-store chain.

Of the 14 discretionary categories that market research firm NPD Group tracks, prestige beauty—products you might find at a department store or a Sephora—is the only category that is seeing unit sales growth year to date. And lipstick, which suffered during the masked-up pandemic, is making up for lost time.

Lipstick sales have grown 37% through October this year compared with a year earlier, according to Larissa Jensen, beauty industry analyst at NPD Group. That is an acceleration from the 31% growth seen during the same period last year. Lip product is the only major category within prestige beauty where sales are actually up compared with pre-pandemic levels, according to Ms. Jensen.

Cosmetic companies have also called out strong sales in fragrances, calling it the “fragrance index.” Demand has been so robust that there is an industrywide fragrance component shortage, Coty said in a press release announcing third-quarter earnings earlier this month. CEO Sue Nabi said during the call that Coty hasn’t seen any kind of trade-down or slowdown, also noting that consumers are shifting away from gifting perfume to buying it for themselves.

“A big piece of it is just a shift in what wellness means to consumers,” NPD Group’s Ms. Jensen said. “Beauty is one of the few industries that are positioned to meet [consumers’] emotional need. It makes them feel good.”

While the lipstick effect could be observed in the recession in the early 2000s, that wasn’t the case during the 2007-09 recession, during which lipstick sales declined alongside other discretionary purchases. Part of this might have had to do with category-specific dynamics.

There was a lot of newness in the cosmetic industry in 2001, including lip gloss, a relatively nascent category back then. That tailwind simply wasn’t there starting in 2008, though nail polish turned out to be consumers’ small indulgence of choice in that period. This time around, consumers may be eager to show off a part of their face that was hidden behind a mask for so long during the pandemic.

In an otherwise bleak environment for companies selling discretionary goods, those in the business of selling cosmetics look well poised to come out of the holiday season looking freshened up.

Pamela Anderson House

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