Customised Air Jordan 1 sneakers by Dr. Esther Mahlangu are valued at R7.7 million

Customised Air Jordan 1 sneakers by Dr. Esther Mahlangu are valued at R7.7 million


Customised Air Jordans by South African contemporary artist Dr. Esther Mahlangu were unveiled on Friday at The Expo 2020 Dubai, which was postponed by a year because of the global Covid-19 pandemic. The event, which started in October is expected to run for six months, also welcomed South Africa.

The South African Pavilion features a variety of exhibitions, live performances, souvenirs, interactive investment hubs, and fashion displays. In the last week of October, the pavilion hosted Ayashisa Amateki, a South African shoe start-up that focuses on documenting sneaker culture and customising highly sought-after footwear with a local flair. A range of sneakers was on display, each customised to represent South Africa's 11 official languages.

The biggest reveal was a pair Air Jordans, customised by 85-year-old Dr. Esther Mahlangu. Mahlangu is world renowned for her colourful Ndebele-inspired art which has adorned a classic BMW, Rolls-Royce Phantom, British Airways airplane, and bottles of Belvedere vodka in collaboration with Grammy-award winning singer John Legend.

Ayashisa Amateki, founded by Prince Menzi Mthethwa, commissioned Mahlangu to customise the AJ1 sneakers, which, after their display in Dubai, will be showcased in galleries in Paris, London, and New York. According to Business Insider, the sneakers are valued at R7.7 million. Slightly less than Michael Jordan's original 1985 pair which recently fetched $560,000 (R8.6 million) at a Sotheby's auction. The real value, according to Mthethwa, is in a showcasing fee that supports the development of South African artists through the Ayashisa Amateki academy.