When did you first get into sneakers?
Around 1996 when the Air Jordan 11 came out. At the time I was living in Taiwan and watching a lot of basketball. I took a lot of interest in the shoes being worn during the games... like Dennis Rodman's pair of Shaq’s with the big swoosh and Michael Jordan had a new pair on every season. In 1997, I went to Korea with my mom and got my first pair of Jordan’s, ever. It was a pair of the French Blue Jordan 12’s.
What happened to your first pair of Chicago's?
I bought a pair of Jordan 1 94’ retros in a small consignment shop in 1998. It wasn't even my size. I had saved up a lot of money to buy them (around $300 Canadian). It wasn’t long before the owner of a sneaker shop I walked into one day informed me that they were fakes! I had only worn them twice. Immediately I wanted to get rid of them. He told me that he would buy them from me for $400. I agreed, figuring I’d profit $100 so I sold them to him. Later on I discovered that he lied to me about the shoes being fake... I was scammed! Around 2002-2003 I found another pair online and bought it.
Now that they've retroed, how many pairs are you up to now?
I have 11 pairs now.
What is it about Air Jodan 1's?
That retro, timless, look. So they'll never go out of style... and you can wear them with almost anything.
I know you were big into watching and playing basketball growing up, how did that shape your collection?
When I used to play basketball in school, my team and I would talk about shoes and NBA players. We wanted to stay on top of the game and have the freshest shoes. I used to wear my shoes and destroy them as quickly as possible so I could get a new pair for each new season.
Are there any memories that stick out in your mind from your childhood?
After I bought my first pair of Jordan 12’s, I collected every colourway of the 12., My dad knew I loved shoes, so he would secretly take me out to buy shoes. He told me to just hide it from mom.
How did you first find Capsule?
When I came to Canada around 1999/2000, I didn’t know what shoes to buy. I felt that the selection at Footlocker and Champs didn’t have anything I was interested in. My classmates told me there was a cool spot in First Markham Place called Capsule that sold shoes. It was close to my home, which meant that I didn’t have to drive downtown whenever I wanted to shop for shoes. Back then, Capsule had the Crepe Air Burst and Air max 90...they had all the good shoes! It was heaven. That’s when I started to talk to the owner of Capsule, Stanley, and find out about upcoming releases.
When did you wind up working at the shop?
I joined Capsule in 2007. Capsule was originally located in First Markham Place and then they moved into Yorkville around 2006-2007. When Stanley made the move to Yorkville, I had disappeared for about a year, but I always remembered thinking I really wanted to work there. When I came back to Toronto, he gave me the opportunity to join Capsule. He was so excited to see me that he even offered me all three pairs of the Nike Supreme Blazer SB pack. (I was out of the shoe game then, so I decided not to get them!)
What's one change you've seen over the years in buying shoes?
A big thing back then was the lack of information on sneakers. There was no Instagram, no Facebook, no real use of the Internet. So if you wanted to buy shoes, you had to know people. And if you knew someone, you would keep it on the down low. If anyone asked where you got your shoes, you had to play it off. Another thing that's changed is why people buy shoes. With things like Instagram, people see a shoe and think, "...that’s cool, I need those". People want to flex. It’s a different generation. I'm not against it, but it's just different than how I use to shop for shoes. Back then, I would walk into a store and shop around, I'd see a shoe I like and I would buy it. Things change though...different eras do different things.
Capsule just released their first collab with New Balance last year (2014), tell me about the experience
Back in 2007/2008 Capsule started to carry New Balance. It was the second brand we took after Nike. Stanley said they were going to be huge. Back then, we didn't offer a lot of models by them. In Japan and the rest of Asia however, New Balance is a big deal. Brands like Mita have done a lot of great work with them, especially with the 580, and Mad Hectic as well. Since building this long term relationship with New Balance, we were given the opportunity to collaborate with them in 2014. We flew down to Boston and sat down with the designers to create our shoe. I really like New Balance because of its heritage and lifestyle elements. This opportunity was a dream come true.
More collabs in the pipe?
Yes, but not only shoes, apparel as well. I want the opportunity to work with different people, different brands and learn more about the sneaker industry. We want to do more, but we don’t want to rush it either. Colalbs are important, but I feel if you do too much, it's not as special and exciting. Coming out with something new every week/every month, people will lose interest.
I know you recently sold a large chunk of your personal collection. What led you to that?
My focus is on Capsule now and elevating it into something bigger and stronger. Selling my shoes offered me the money I needed to invest back into the store and also a way for me to free up some space for new things that might catch my eye. These days, I only buy what I like, you'll never see me wear Yeezy’s or Galaxy’s. I love them, but I sold them.