On the Other Foot

Toy collectors and trainer collectors aren’t exactly a million miles apart [they call sneakers “trainers” across the pond –Ed.]. Both spend their days searching out their personal holy grails. Both cut back on non-essential areas of life, such as food and rent, to secure their prizes. Both are, for the most part, misunderstood by friends and family. For all the similarities though, as a diehard toy collector, I stand before you and say I just don’t get trainer collecting.

It’s odd for me to feel this way. I should get it. I collect toys for Christ’s sake, it’s essentially the same thing. And I think the problem lies in the fact that it’s trainers. To me, trainers are trainers. I just can’t get past their functional nature. They protect your feet and that’s kind of that.

I know it makes no sense. I should be in solidarity with my sneakerhead brothers and sisters. We feel the same pain of missing out on store exclusives at stores that are inconveniently located on the other side of the globe. We have to run the same gauntlet of flippers on eBay, trying to figure out whether it will be more expensive in a month or if we should just “Buy it now!” For all these reasons and more, I should get it – but I don’t.

Don’t get me wrong – I like trainers. I own about 15 pairs, mostly Nike, and I like to think they’re all nice. I buy new pairs when some of the ones I have start to smell or look a bit shabby – or a mix of the two. Sometimes I buy them just because shopping makes me happy. But they are bought to be worn. And I think that’s the bit I really don’t get: trainer collectors who don’t wear their trainers.

The idea of keeping them in their boxes, with their tags still on, in the back of a wardrobe is frankly just weird. Don’t worry – I’m not singling out trainer collectors who do this – toy collectors who keep everything in the original packaging are equally peculiar to my mind.

In both cases, if it’s the design that appeals, why not display them? Or, in the trainer collectors’ case, just wear the bloody things. It’s the Toy Story 2 “Stinky Pete” scenario in its purest form. Maybe I have a different approach to collecting. For me it’s about owning things I find visually stimulating, so I gain my pleasure from looking at them moreso than the initial thrill of ownership.

Also, the colourway issue that dogs the toy world is even more prevalent in the trainer scene. Rick touched on it in his column, Where have all the new trainers gone? I very rarely buy platform toys or colourways of toys, I’m far more draw to original sculpts. So the concept of owning 30 pairs of Dunks is somewhat alien to me.

I know they all look different. I know there’s a variety of finishes. But they’re essentially the same thing. In the same way that toys are rolled up in a limited edition, new colourways are just a marketing way of keeping people coming back for more. As a toy collector, I’ve made a conscious decision to avoid this sort of saturation. But as a trainer collector, for the points Rick raised, I’m not sure you can.

I’m probably way off the mark with all my ramblings. I’m more searching for answers than offering enlightenment. In fact, my confusion over trainer collecting confuses me as much as anything. I guess we’re all being played by the hype system – toy and trainer collectors alike. So maybe it’s just human nature for me to think I’m being played less, when actually I’m probably being played more.

Drunken Master

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