A sneak peek into the soles

Unique hobbies

A sneak peek into the soles
Marilyn Monroe once famously said ‘give a girl the right pair of shoes and she can conquer the world’. But why should girls have all the fun? Allen Claudius is proof that shoes are all that a man needs too.

It was a childhood wish that has made Allen what he is today — one of the very few sneaker collectors in India and the owner of a fabulous collection comprising of some rare and exclusive sneakers.

“I come from modest beginnings and never had the means to buy more than one pair of shoes in school. This one pair would be repaired and re-repaired while my classmates, with relatives in Canada and USA, would flaunt new ones regularly. So when I grew up, I relived my childhood desire and started buying sneakers.”

This desire has now taken the form of a collection of 50 sneakers, the first of which was a ‘Nike Air Max 90’.

“I make it a point to stop at 50 because that in itself is excessive,” Allen says candidly. “I find it hard to juggle even 10 pairs so whenever I get something new, I make it a point to give away something. As it is, it is a phenomenal waste of space and brands keep sending me their new products to check out,” says the owner of ‘bowties and bones’, a men’s fashion, culture and lifestyle blog.

His favourites include four pairs of ‘Yeezy boost’ shoes that was Kanye West’s collaboration with Adidas Originals, ‘Vans Supreme’ shoes and ‘Bape Adidas NMD’ among others. And Allen is clear about the fact that it is a large number that makes a person a ‘sneakerhead’. “Many people think that owning a large number of shoes makes you a collector. It goes much beyond that. Like when I am buying a sneaker, there will be something unique about it; it would be a ‘retro released’ version or would have made use of some new technology — there would be an element of exclusivity about it.”

This tag also makes acquiring these sneakers a tough process.

“Even though the resale market for them is huge, I don’t buy it from resellers. These shoes are overpriced as it is. I prefer buying them from the stores, usually when they launch a new collection. Or I depend on friends and friends of friends who are travelling abroad.”

Store launches are also the perfect place to meet fellow enthusiasts and Allen has met quite a few of them.

“There was a person who drove down to Bengaluru from Pune because he thought he had a better chance at getting a limited edition pair of sneakers here. Then there was a group of 8-10 people from Thailand who came during a launch, for the same reason.

Even I wouldn’t do something like that,” he says. Exclusivity aside, the shoes also have to be wearable otherwise there is no point in going to all the trouble to buy them, he notes.

“Practicality and comfort are the main requirements as well as the material and the thought that has gone into it,” he says and adds that taking care of these shoes is not a challenge at all. “I just put them in a pillow cover and put them inside the washing machine.

If they are made of leather, then I give them to a specialised cleaning place,” he says.  As they say, life is too short for boring shoes. A little zing on your feet never hurt.

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