Sneaker Freaker has always been a haven for sneaker heat, but one look inside our forums and you’ll find collectors with crates that’ll make you quiver. Case in point, meet SF member Gonz. Having been down with the craze since before Foot Locker, Hype DC and JD Sports ruled the streets, Gonz is what we call the real deal. Landing in Brisvegas by way of Manchester UK, Gonz painstakingly photographed his entire collection after the horrific floods in QLD left many without a roof over their heads. With insurance on his mind, Gonz has documented over 250 pairs of mouth-watering kicks at a new website entitled ‘too old to blog’. At 39, he’s been in the game for a long minute, so we hit him up to get schooled in the Gonz way.
Waddup Gonz… how’s life treating ya right now?
All good in the hood… thanks for asking. Pretty excited to be given the opportunity to be interviewed by you guys.
Tell us a little about yourself and how you jumped ship from Manchester to settle in sunny old Brisneyland…
I’m a 39 year old video game Quality Assurance manager, hailing from merry old England. I’d always wanted to relocate abroad, but didn’t know if I’d get homesick for Manchester, so when a job came up for a Quality Assurance Manager at SEGA in London I thought it would be easier to test the waters nationally instead of taking the international plunge straight off. After a few years in the big smoke I applied for a job with a company in Brissy, which fitted in pretty well with my situation as I have a load of family over here. I got the job (which was one of the maddest days of my life… what I can remember of it), made the move and haven’t looked back since.
That must have been one long haul for all those kicks… how did you manage to get them all over to Australia? Any damage?
Luckily I got a pretty sweet relocation deal with the new job, so didn’t have to pay a penny to get my stuff over here (this was a huge blessing as me and Michelle have amassed a load of crap over the years). The worst thing about the move was having to survive the three months shipping time with only three pairs. When they eventually arrived, I was glad to see that customs hadn’t seized any (I did a pretty good job of cleaning all the soles prior to packing just in case), there were a few boxes with rips etc when they did arrive, but luckily I’m not too precious about cardboard.
In light of the recent bad news bears in Brisbane, you’ve started your ‘too old to blog’ website – tell us how it all got started and just how long it took to photograph the entire collection?
A few people have asked me what the blog is about, and I just tell them it’s more of a selfish thing than anything. I just wanted somewhere to collate the stuff that I found interesting/cool/funny without having to go searching every time I wanted to re-check something out. The crate was something that I really didn’t want to do (again). I’ve photographed my crate a couple of times before, and it’s a painful process. But I felt the need to do it now more for cataloguing than anything else (for insurance purposes, in light of recent events in QLD). I couldn’t have handled doing it in one hit again, so I took my time with it this time. I paced myself by just doing one brand each weekend; even then, I’m still yet to do Asics, Reebok and Vans (not that there’s a lot of those).
Have you tried to insure your collection yet? We’ve been trying to find out how to go about it ourselves…
This is something me and the Mrs have talked about a fair bit lately, again, in light of Queensland’s recent run of bad fortune. The problem is, when we try to fill out an quote form, there isn’t any space for stuff like Sneaker and Toy collections…..I reckon we’ll have to get an assessor out to see it in person. If you find out an easy way to do it, please let me know.
How do you go about insuring a collection or a pair of sneakers anyway – the price point must be fairly hard to work out right?
I would have no idea. I try not to apply a price to my kicks, just in case they get wrecked (I think it’d upset me too much)… I reckon the easiest way is to come up with an average per pair and just multiply by the number of pairs in your crate.
We lost count of all the kicks we were seeing in your crate… how many are you up to these days?
I have no idea, and I think it would scare me if I actually took the time to count them. All I know is my collection has the biggest bedroom in the unit (along with my DJ stuff)… me and Michelle are confined to the smaller bedroom. If I had to give a guestimate, I would say around the 250 mark (including Mickey’s collection and doubles etc.).
What’s your most valuable pair?
Like I say, not really a big fan of the whole ‘this pair’s worth this much’ school of thought. I don’t class myself as a collector, I just buy the shoes that I like the look of, or that I wanted as a youngster, but couldn’t afford due to being a schooly or working for crap wages. The most I’ve ever paid for a pair was my Stash BW’s. I’d been fiending after them for a while so when a DS pair came up I snapped em up… I think I paid around $500 for them… money wasn’t that much of an issue back then as I was paid pretty well at the time.
You’ve got a mixed bag in your collection, but is there a brand you sway towards and fiend more than the next?
I wouldn’t ever say I was loyal to a brand, I’ve got big love for all the brands for one reason or another: Hip Hop has been a big part of my musical taste since the early ‘80s… the b-boy years gave me big love for Superstars, Suedes and Clydes etc. I used to paint graff so always had a massive obsession with a nice wedge shaped kick with super fat laces. I got my first pair of Nikes around ‘86 (pretty sure they were called Nike Bongo, but I could be mistaken, I’ve not been able to find anything about them since). I still remember the first time I saw a pair of 87s. I was 15 or 16 and on my paper round. I was flicking through the pages of a magazine and when I saw the ad I was like…’WHAT THE F*!K….YOU CAN SEE THROUGH THEM!!!! I assume that’s why I’ve got love for late ‘80s/early ‘90s runners.
I guess my love for Jordans started when I was skating in the early ‘90s, most of the guys I skated with had pretty well off parents, and so always had the latest Js. That was a mad time for trading in my life… everything was a commodity -sneaks, decks, trucks, stickers. It was rare that money changed hands, but stuff was always going back and forth. I remember my first pair of Vs went between my mate Threader and I about eight times (he recently found them in the back of his closet, but they were mouldy as hell and the soles turned to dust when he moved them).
Every pair looks so clean and crisp – are most deadstock or are you just a gun at cleaning them all?
I’m not one for keeping a pair of shoes DS for DSs sake. If I like a shoe, I’ll buy it and rock it the same day most of the time. I think most of my shoes look pretty clean as I’m pretty selective about what shoes to wear based on the conditions (what’s the weather’s like, will I be getting drunk, where am I going etc.). I’m also pretty good at cleaning them off before putting them back in the box. I think the fact that nice sneakers were always a luxury when I was younger makes me appreciate them more now that I can afford what I want.
You’ve been in the game a long minute now – how has it changed over the years for you?
When I first got into sneakers, there was no JD sports, Footlocker or HYPE DC, it was all about local mom and pop stores. There was no hype, when you went into a shop and found something you really liked, it was a surprise, and there was no stress about drop dates or availability. I remember the day I went into a little shop in Bolton and found a pair of Navy Blue Adidas Campus corduroy (still one of my all-time faves and a grail), I don’t think I’ll ever get that buzz back again. I don’t want to come across as a jaded miserable old pom. There are some upsides to the modern scene (I hate the word ‘scene’). Instead of it just being one or two mates into shoes, there’s a whole community out there. I’ve met some awesome people through SF and CT, people who I class as friends and who I would never have met without the ‘scene’. The thing that amazes me is that there are kids out there who are into shoes that are older than they are. The whole sneaker thing for me was about exciting new technologies and shoes that amazed us (think the introduction of Air and Pump). Nowadays it can sometimes seem to be more about the colourway or the collaboration link.
Are there distinct differences between the scene Down Under as opposed to UK?
That’s a pretty difficult one to answer really. I only arrived in Aus in December of 2009 and by that time the big companies (Hype DC and Footlocker) had already cornered the casual sneaker fan. I’m really pleased to see shops like Laced doing well (I’d much rather give my money to the smaller independent store than ‘The Man’. For a start off, you can’t share a few beers and have a game of ping pong with the big boys.
Are you still an avid collector? I ask because it seems a lot of cats our age are starting to settle down and sell off their kicks – especially as the value of each pair dwindles….
I hesitate to call myself a collector as I like to wear every pair that I own. The only pair that won’t get worn again are my ‘99 cements as they started to crack (they’re currently in a display cabinet in my lounge room). I tend to have a bit of a cull periodically when I think the numbers are getting out of hand. Prices rarely have an influence on whether I sell or not, I like to go with my gut. I suppose one day might arrive when we decide to have a little one, but I’ll fight off the need to sell for as long as possible. In reality I’ll probably just switch from buying for myself, to buying tiny versions for the nipper (I’ve already got their first pair of Vs).
You buy and sell a lot so your collection must change like the weather – what specifics do you look for to round out your crate?
I never really think of it as a whole entity, that’s probably why I have periodic realisations that I have WAY too many pairs and have to have a cull. As far as what I look for in a shoe: I like the usual mix of classic silhouette, great colour blocking and nice materials. It always disappoints me when a shoe fails to tick a box and I have to let it slide. I think a lot of people fall for the quantity over quality attitude when they first start collecting (I know I did), but when you’ve got limited funds or space; you have to be a little more selective.
What’s up next for you, and what’s the one pair you’re still chasing down?
I’m still chasing that pair of Navy Corduroy Campus, a pair of the Japanese Clydes. New Balance’s line up for the coming year looks really interesting, so I’m hoping to cop a couple of those. Apart from that I’m looking forward to what SF are going to do with the next Alvin Purple shoe (should I not be mentioning this?!?!?!?!) Oh and I nearly forgot CEMENT IVs (Please MJ don’t make them out of the same leather as the Mars’)!!!!!