Heart and sole

Sneakerhead Sam Wong discusses why sneakers and streetwear culture is synonymous

20 Jan 2021 / 10:54 H.

SAM Wong remembers the shoes that started it all. “It was the Nike Zoom Kobe V sneakers,” revealed Wong, an avid sneakerhead, basketball fan, streetwear and fashion enthusiast.

Wong developed an interest in sneakers back in March 2010, when the late Kobe Bryant released his fifth signature pair with Nike.

“I was drawn to its one-of-a-kind silhouette, and above all, it was my idol Kobe Bryant’s signature shoe, so I bought them and hid them under my bed for about six months until my mum found out and later punished me,” he shared.

Some sneakerheads collect hyped sneakers from all sorts of brands, while others stick exclusively to one brand. Wong admitted that while he does pick up sneakers from other brands, Nike clearly reigns supreme in his heart.

“Nike has signed some of the greatest basketball players of all-time – Kobe, Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Keven Durant – and released countless classic sneaker collaborations. Nike is the best sneaker brand, end of.”

Wong said the Air Jordan 1 x Union is the holy grail among his extensive sneaker collection. – COURTESY OF SAM WONG
Wong said the Air Jordan 1 x Union is the holy grail among his extensive sneaker collection. – COURTESY OF SAM WONG

Do you see yourself as more than just a hobbyist?

“Definitely, as most would say this is the ‘lifestyle’ or the ‘culture’, because sneakers play such a huge part of our lives, so much so that we ‘live and breathe’ it.

“Being a sneakerhead doesn’t mean that you have to own 100, or even up to 1,000, pairs of sneakers. As long as you have a passion for sneakers, and study, understand and respect the sneaker culture, then you’re a sneakerhead.

“Don’t let social media fool you whenever you see someone else attempt to ‘flex’ what expensive shoes they bought, or how rare of a sneaker they just collected.

“I mean, it’s all cool and fun, but I genuinely think that you don’t need to own a pair of Off-White or Jordan x Dior to be a sneakerhead.”

Would it be fair to assume that you’ve got a pretty large collection of shoes?

“I don’t think I have a large collection. I have significantly cut down a lot of pairs over the past couple of years, buying sneakers that I absolutely love and would wear often.

“I just don’t see the point of collecting shoes if you don’t plan to wear them.

“Five years ago I collected mainly basketball shoes, like every pair of Kobe Bryant signature shoes, any Air Jordan silhouette, and so on.

“Right now, I’ve expanded into Nike x Supreme, or even Clarks x Stussy, Awake x Reebok collaborations, and others.”

What’s your approach when collecting and purchasing a pair of shoes?

“In a sense, I’ve grown weary of overhyped sneakers. On occasions where I decided to buy a pair of sneakers, they’ve got to be comfortable and versatile enough to match my outfits.

“What appeals to me is the story behind the sneakers. The stories are the ‘soul’; without a story, it’s just an empty vessel.”

How do you view brand collaborations?

“Collaborations are great, they’re able to pull in new [audiences]. Prior to this, most sneakerheads would probably never have heard of brands like Sacai, Ambush or Feng Chen Wang.

“But ever since the notable 2017 Nike x Off-White: ‘The Ten’ and Louis Vuitton x Supreme collaborations, there have been new sneaker collaborations dropping nearly every week, which to me seems like collaborating for the sake of collaboration.

“Brands know that consumers love these partnerships, and sneakers are often sold out, then resold at a premium price in the secondary market, which is exactly what these brands want. The resale market increases the value of the brand.”

Do you think there will be a time where streetwear loses its notoriety?

“We often hear how ‘streetwear is dead’, but what it means is that the distinction between luxury fashion and streetwear has significantly been blurred, and that started when Louis Vuitton collaborated with Supreme.

“Before, luxury fashion didn’t care about streetwear, but now it’s a unit. Hence streetwear will always be there, it’s part of the culture.”


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