The Canadian photographer prepares her favorite finds – and even the ones that have escaped – on National Sneaker Day.
Toronto image designer Briony Douglas has built an impressive following through her work with clients ranging from Gucci to Chanel to the Toronto Raptors; but she also became known as a huge head sneaker in the collector’s world. Naturally, eBay approached her to be part of its #eBayedits initiative; its unique and diverse selection, which includes Melody Ehsani’s version of the Nike Air Jordan 1s, is sure to put a smile on anyone’s face on National Sneaker Day.
We caught up with Douglas to find out more about his personal collection and his choices for you.
How did you get interested in sneakers and the sneaker collection?
I’ve always loved sneakers, but my fascination really took off about three years ago. What really sparked him was being chosen by Jordan and Vogue to shoot their first collaboration. It was a very big honor – it was a female shoot, and they wanted a female photographer. From there, my interest in them just took off.
What is the piece that really kick-started your collection?
The first track [I bought] it really was a collector’s item, it was the Rick Owens Dunks. It took about six months to find them in my size and in the style that I wanted. The reason it was so rare is that the shoes were originally banned by Nike years ago because the side mark was too similar to the swoosh. So they are very rare. There are so many stories about each sneaker that I don’t think a lot of people know – I find it really fascinating.
When you buy sneakers, do you mainly do it online? Did you try to find parts while traveling before COVID? Do these kinds of finds exist somewhere like a flea market?
I find them mostly online, and the reason is being in Canada – when I’m here – our selection is limited. And the problem with finding coins in stores like a thrift store is that they would be difficult to authenticate. I can’t see seller reviews like I could online, and that’s always something I’m looking for; and I usually couldn’t see that the ID number on the shoe matches the ID number on the box in this kind of store. I get this security when I shop online.
On that note, how has a platform like eBay helped you build your collection? Obviously, as you said, the scope of the product is much broader, but what else does it offer?
Well, because I’m female but I also love men’s styles, a lot of sizes are harder to find at an original retailer; Typically, the chances of winning a raffle, for example, are much lower. So I have to look for resale, and eBay is great for that in terms of finding small sizes. Also, with the pandemic, I don’t want to spend huge sums of money, so what’s cool about reselling is that I can buy and sell sneakers – I can return some of my shoes, which is part of it. their collection.
When I think of the sneaker collection, I think of the people who don’t really wear the shoes as much as show them off and keep them. Is this true for you, or are you looking for clothes that you want to wear?
A bit of both. I have a pair of shoes that I won’t be wearing – the Fear of God x Nike collaboration; these are the first shoes that Jerry Lorenzo designed. There were 500 pairs for friends and family, and he personally gave me a pair. I put them on for a photo once and then immediately took them off – like, I put them on sitting and took them off while sitting, I didn’t even walk around in them. They are super special to me. However, I wear most of the sneakers I have because I love what I collect and want to share them.
This is something I really think of in terms of collecting – how much fun does anyone get from it? It’s fun that you want to wear them outside and I’m sure you have a lot of people commenting on them.
Yeah, it’s always cool when someone walks by and recognizes it or knows it – especially if it’s not something well known. If it’s something rare and someone comments on it, you get a little burst of excitement.
Do you have any favorites in your collection?
The Melody Ehsani Jordan 1 are by far one of my favorite pairs. I just love her as a designer – I love what she represents. She’s all about inclusiveness and empowering female voices. And that’s something we don’t see anymore, that sneaker collaborations are no longer just with athletes but with people of interest. It’s basically about amplifying the voices of these people, which I think is really cool.
Why do you think sneakers have become such an important collector’s item over time?
For me, I consider them to be works of art. And I think that’s what grows that audience even more and why people want it. Sotheby’s recently had a huge auction on some of the most iconic pairs of sneakers, and years ago that wouldn’t have happened. It’s so interesting to see this evolution, especially as an artist. I really see my sneaker collection as a reflection of myself – I’m quite eclectic, which is why I love [really] sneakers outside.
Are there any sneakers you couldn’t find? Are you still looking for them?
The biggest loss for me last year was the Off-White Air Jordan 5 in gray. I remember taking the plane to Vancouver and trying to beat the robots as the plane was about to take off. However, a new colorway will be coming out at the end of this year, so that’s something I’m going to try to get.
Do you have any tips for people who want to start collecting?
Buy the parts you like; just because something is genuinely popular and hard to obtain doesn’t mean it will be your favorite piece. Some of my favorite pieces that I wear and love are general releases.
If you’re trying to collect rarer items, do your research. When buying from a site like eBay, make sure the person you’re buying from has good reviews and that it’s not the first item they’ve sold – this can be a warning sign. Also, if a price seems too good to be true, I will look for knockoffs in those type of shoes to see what they look like. And I will usually send something that interests me to a few other collectors to ask their opinion.