Matthew* doesn’t vape, but he fits the bill of what a regular person would call a hardcore sneakerhead: buys rare pairs, has more than you can wear in a month, and wears expensive streetwear to match. But just like how every midsole is destined to crumble, all collections must come to an end—here’s a look into the mind of a recovering collector.
Can you describe your collection’s size at its peak?
It’s hard to say the exact figure because I would regularly sell shoes, mostly because I didn’t like the pair anymore and when I needed money to buy even more—you know, unload to reload. But if I were to give a number, I think I had fifty pairs at one time. That’s a lot especially since I started seriously collecting/hoarding just in college.
And what was in there?
My collection was mostly New Balance because I loved the quality of their made in USA/UK shoes versus adidas or Nike. I also had most of the other sneaker brands (Asics, Reebok, Saucony, Vans etc.) and majority of these sneakers were collaborations with other companies—Ronnie Fieg, END, Footpatrol, Sneaker Freaker, Atmos, etc.
A favorite pair from my collection is the Airmax 1 x Atmos “Safari” from 2002—not the reissue from 2016. This is actually my “grail” sneaker which got me into the game. The only Jordan I have is the Jordan 1 Shattered Backboard, which has insane leather quality compared to other Jordan releases. And my favorite color is orange so I had to get it. Another pair I love are my Visvim FBT, which my mom calls “Pocahontas shoes.” I wanted to wear something different that many people weren’t rocking and I have this great bias towards anything Japanese.
How did you buy all those pairs? Did you work? Resell? Beg from mom?
I used my birthday money, Christmas cash, and saved my allowance to afford all my sneakers. I was lucky enough to go to Japan a lot—sneakers are cheaper there and also tax free. During those trips, I would easily go over my allowance and there were times that I begged my mom to buy me some of them.
Most of the sneakers I buy are second hand and since I wasn’t into Yeezys or anything, there wasn’t too much of a resell market for the shoes I liked. I would pay half the retail price for some of my shoes or just below SRP in general, but I do have pairs wherein I paid more than retail because of the hype.
Did it matter to your peers that your parents practically paid for your shoes?
I don't think they really cared and I never bragged that my mom got them for me. I was just honest that I didn't "hustle" in order to get them. Also those shoes were the ones that held more meaning to me, so if I sold them I used the money to treat her to something nice.
So what made you think: time to dump?
There was a point in time wherein I would borrow money just to buy sneakers. I knew then that I had a sneaker addiction and it wasn’t a good feeling at all. There was also one week wherein I bought three sneakers in one day and that was pretty crazy for me. I had to rethink my life choices because I had more sneakers that I could wear in a month. Also, if you don’t use your shoes often there’s a possibility that the soles will crumble. I don’t have any fancy humidity controlled system so I didn’t want to have that risk anymore as well.
Was it a snap decision, like you woke up one day and were sure it’s over, or a gradual rot that set in?
It was more of a gradual rot that set in. I started to stay away from sneakers during my last year of college. It was also a realization that I had to be more responsible with my money and life in general.
Is it easy getting rid of everything? Were you able to quickly sell for a price that didn’t exploit you?
I’m still in the process of getting rid of everything because there isn’t really a resell market for the sneakers I’m into. Also I think, right now, people have shifted their priorities when it comes to paying a lot for shoes compared to before. Even the newer Yeezy releases have gone down a bit.
I usually sell my shoes to my friends first and at a much cheaper price because I don’t buy shoes to resell them to begin with. I just hope that they appreciate them more than I have—I’m not trying to make a profit from it but more of cutting my losses I guess. I’m fortunate that one of my best friends is helping me sell my shoes so I don’t have to worry about it too much. He also gets a commission from selling so that I won’t look like such a user.
What’s next? Because a man’s still gotta wear clothes and shoes.
At the start of the year, I got into the world of raw denim. These are jeans you wear hard and avoid washing for as long as possible in order to get some sick fades. I like them because they will last much longer than fast fashion brands—the jeans will also change with wear and become 1-of-1. Right now, I’m thinking of clothes that will last a lifetime.
For my shirts, I really love the packaged shirts of Uniqlo and I buy a bunch whenever its sale. I realized it’s crazy to buy shirts that are worth thousands, especially because I sweat a lot in this climate. As for shoes, I still wear some of the sneakers that I’ve kept and not sold yet.
Any lessons learned? Is there a moral to this story even?
For me, it’s still to each his own. If they can afford it, then there’s no problem. It was just that I kept going broke to get the latest releases.
But the truth is that I’ve fallen out of love with sneakers and even streetwear. I’m not as obsessed and it doesn’t make me as happy to keep buying sneakers anymore. But as long as you’re happy with the lifestyle you have then I see no problem with having a lot of shoes. For some fifty pairs may be a fraction of their collection but it was way more than I could handle.
*Not subject's real name