How to start a sneaker collection
Because I’m an athlete, it might seem obvious that I like sneakers. I wear them a lot, both on the court and off. But my love of this cool and comfortable shoe runs a little deeper.
I wouldn’t say I’m a hard-core collector; I just collect the ones I like. The thing is, owning these shoes was something I dreamed about as a kid. Growing up, I couldn’t afford sneakers like the ones I have now. We’d get one pair at the beginning of each school year and then wear them into the ground. I remember getting the Eastbay catalog at school. We’d flip through the pages and fantasize over all the new, cool shoes.
Those dreams turned into a real interest of mine. When I started in the NBA, I experienced an influx of sneakers. And as a Nike athlete, I often get to try out the latest styles. In honor of my childhood fantasies, I tracked down some old-school pairs—those from the mid-1990s, Penny Hardaway ones and other classics.
My all-time favorite pair of shoes has to be the black and red Air Jordan 11s. I wanted a pair so bad when I was a kid. Anything Jordan touched was gold, and those were the first official shoes he wore after coming out of retirement for a whole season. People went crazy! I know I did. My other favorites were the Air Penny 2s—black, white and blue. Those are the only ones that I don’t have, but I’m still on the lookout! And then there are the Air Max 91s and Air Max 95s. I always collect shoes that give me a feeling, whether it’s a nostalgic one or just that good feeling you get when wearing a dope pair of shoes.
Some collectors like to keep their sneakers in the box as collectibles, but I like to store mine in my closet and just wear them like normal shoes. I feel like they have a purpose, a cool look and comfortable feel, so I might as well enjoy them. Maybe it’s the kid in me coming through…
As for where to pick up new pairs, I’d check out sneaker stores, like Flight Club in New York and Los Angeles, among others. Most major cities have at least one hot spot, and I feel like I’m always discovering new stores and sources. Although I haven’t been yet, there’s also a Sneaker Con held every month or so in different cities, where people can buy, sell and trade shoes of all kinds—from running and basketball sneakers to skateboard and everyday “kick around” ones.
If you’re looking to build your own collection, start with what you love. Take your time, learn about different types, check out the stores and sites, and discover what you really like. Over time, you’ll grow your collection—and hopefully not spend too much in the process!