If there’s one thing Dennise Lazaro and Al James share, it’s that both stars have a cop-worthy sneaker collection.
While some may see sneakers as, well, just sneakers, to many, they are so much more than that. Not only can sneakers complete a whole closet’s worth of looks, they also come with sentimental and social value. Any sneakerhead or collector can tell you that buying, opening, and trying on a fresh pair of fly kicks is a whole special feeling. This is something Dennise Lazaro and Al James know very well.
While both may come from different fields, sports and music respectively, they both share a common love for the sneaker game and their ever expanding drip. Aside from their natural talents, both are avid sneaker enthusiasts with enviable collection, something you can see whether they are on stage, on the court, or just out and about. But for the most part, buying a new pair of sneakers isn’t cheap, especially in today’s economy. As much as we all want to cop that next pair, it will most likely cost you, especially for the rarer variants.
LOVE FOR PRE-LOVED
Ox Street, Southeast Asia’s leading authenticated sneaker marketplace, saw this and wanted to help fix it. The result became the recent launch of Used, an online service that enables authenticated buying and selling of used and b-grade sneakers at a reduced cost. Think ukay-ukay, but just for shoes. “We launched Used as we felt the used segment was criminally underserved. Sneakers are meant to be worn, but us sneakerheads tend to accumulate too many pairs to constantly wear all of them,” says Ox Street CEO Gijs Verheijke. “Through Used, we hope to save millions of pairs of great sneakers from a slow death at the bottom shelf of someone’s closet. In doing so, we’re also really excited to see the range of limited edition and vintage sneakers making their way back to the marketplace.”
Helping lead the way to this greater acceptance of pre-loved sneakers are Dennise Lazaro and Al James who, together with Ox Street, want sneakerheads to give their old kicks a new home and would-be shoppers an affordable option to cop some pairs. The duo recently sat down with NYLON Manila where they opened up about their love of sneakers, their favorite pairs of kicks, as well as why owning pre-loved shoes shouldn’t be seen as a bad thing. Read on below for the full interview.
When did you first fall in love with sneakers?
DENNISE: In high school, I had friends who were into sneakers, particularly Nike SB dunks. Back then I didn’t own a pair, but I was really into the silhouette, colorways, and design tweaks on the dunks. It was the SB dunk low 720 degrees that really drew me in.
AL JAMES: My love for sneakers started when I was in grade school. My dad got me a pair of Lebron 2 for Christmas. Since then my curiosity for sneakers just grew. Got into SB’s, Jordans, Vans, etc. As a kid I didn’t have the money to buy and collect, just saved photos of the sneakers I like from the internet
What do you think is the allure when it comes to owning a pair of pre-loved sneakers?
DENNISE: More often than not, brand new pairs of certain sneakers aren’t available anymore. So, it could be that secondhand sneakers are rare, limited or possibly something that can never be bought again.
AL JAMES: I think what makes it interesting is the fun of hunting and opportunity of getting your favorite pair with a reasonable or steal price
Some people say that buying a new pair of kicks is better than getting them second-hand. Why then do you think it’s ok if not better to buy pre-loved shoes?
DENNISE: Buying pre-loved shoes or items offer great value while helping to save the environment. There’s no shame in buying secondhand items. You don’t have to wear something brand new to look good.
AL JAMES: Getting a fresh pair is always nice. But I don’t see anything wrong with buying pre-loved shoes and it’s been a part of the sneaker culture. With pre-loved shoes there’s opportunity to own your favorite sneaker without the high resell price.
Shoe culture and your respective fields influence each other greatly. Why do you think that is so?
DENNISE: I think it started to pick up again with the athleisure trend. But the shoe culture has always looked to sports for inspiration.
AL JAMES: I think they complement each other. And one thing the shoe culture and music have in common is self-expression.
How would you describe a great pair of sneakers?
DENNISE: A great pair has to be comfortable.
AL JAMES: A great pair for me is when its comfortable and makes you confident wearing it.
What tips would you give for shoppers when it comes to buying sneakers?
DENNISE: Buy something that YOU like. Don’t splurge on an expensive pair just because it’s the hottest pair at that moment. Spend your money on something that you’ll actually wear and you’ll be comfortable wearing.
AL JAMES: Just get the sneakers you really like. Being impulsive and falling for the hype leads to regrets.
What’s your favorite pair of sneakers you have in your collection right now?
DENNISE: Definitely the Jordan 1 Low Fragment x Travis Scott.
AL JAMES: Right now been wearing New Balances a lot in my rotation. The 530 and 550’s are a great everyday shoe.
Is there a pair of sneakers out there that you would love to add to your collection someday?
DENNISE: The Jordan 1 x Fragments.
AL JAMES: A pair of Air Yeezy 1 Zen Grey.
What advice would you give to sneakerheads on how they could take proper care of their shoes?
DENNISE: Don’t just keep them in a box/case. Wear them. Shoes are meant to be worn.
AJ JAMES: Store your sneakers somewhere safe and clean them regularly. Of course, wear your sneakers so they don’t crumble.
For people looking to start their own sneaker collection, how would you advise them to start?
DENNISE: Start with the classics. You can never go wrong with a classic pair of sneakers. But again, buy something that suits your preference. There’s a lot of options to choose from so pick your poison!
AJ JAMES: Whatever goes with your style and makes you feel good, you can start with that.