The Canadian photographer serves up her favorite finds on National Sneaker Day – and even those that escaped.
Toronto-based image maker Briony Douglas has built an impressive following thanks to her work with clients from Gucci to Chanel to the Toronto Raptors. But it has also become known as the great sneaker head in the collector’s world. EBay reached out to them, of course, to be part of the #Ebayedits initiative. Their uniquely diverse selection, which also includes Melody Ehsani’s version of Nike Air Jordan 1s, is sure to put a smile on your face on National Sneaker Day.
We caught up with Douglas to find out more about her personal collection and what she’s choosing for you.
How did you get into sneaker and sneaker collecting?
I’ve always loved sneakers, but my fascination really wore off about three years ago. What really sparked it was Jordan and Vogue picked their first collaboration. That was a really big honor – it was a female shoot and they wanted a photographer. From then on, my interest in them just waned.
What was the piece that really started your collection?
The first piece [I bought] That was really a collectible that the Rick Owens Dunks were. It took me about half a year to find them in my size and in the style I wanted. The reason it was so rare is because the shoes were originally discontinued by Nike years ago because the side marking was too similar to the Swoosh. So they are very rare. Every sneaker has so many stories that I don’t think a lot of people know about them – I find that really fascinating.
When you buy sneakers, do you mostly do it online? Tried to find pieces while out and about before COVID? Are there any finds like that in a second-hand shop?
I find them mostly online and the reason is that our choices in Canada are limited when I’m here. And the problem with finding pieces in stores like a thrift store is that they’re difficult to authenticate. I can’t see the seller’s reviews the way I could online and that’s always something I’m looking for. and I normally wouldn’t be able to see the ID number on the shoe match the ID number on the box in this type of store. I get this security when I shop online.
How did a platform like eBay help you build your collection? Of course, as you said, the product range is much broader, but what else does it offer?
Well, because I’m a woman but also like men’s styles, many sizes are harder to find at an original retailer. As a rule, the chances of winning in a raffle, for example, are much lower. So I have to deal with reselling, and eBay is a great place to find smaller sizes. Also, I don’t want to spend insane amounts of money with the pandemic. So the cool thing about reselling is that I can buy and sell sneakers – I can flip some of my shoes, which is part of collecting.
When I think of collecting sneakers, I think of people who don’t wear the shoes so much as to have them displayed and kept. Does this apply to you or are you looking for things to wear?
A little of both. I have a pair of shoes that I’m not going to wear – the Fear of God x Nike collaboration; They 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 – as if I had put them on while sitting and undressing them, I didn’t even walk around in them. You are very special to me. Most of the sneakers I have, however, I wear because I like what I collect and want to share them.
This is something I definitely think about when I collect – how does someone enjoy it? Fun that you want to wear them and I’m sure you have a lot of people commenting on them.
Yes, it’s always cool when someone comes by and acknowledges them or knows about them – especially when they aren’t known. When it’s something rare and someone comments on it, the excitement is a little bigger.
Do you have favorites in your collection?
The Melody Ehsani Jordan 1s are by far one of my favorite pairs. I just love her as a designer – I love what she stands for. She is all about inclusivity and empowering female voices. And that’s something we’re seeing more of now, that sneaker collaborations are no longer of interest only with athletes, but with people. It’s really about amplifying these people’s voices, which I think is really cool.
Why do you think sneakers have become such a great collectible over time?
For myself, I see them as works of art. And I think that’s what makes this audience grow even more and why people want them. Sotheby’s recently held a major auction for some of the most iconic sneakers, and it wouldn’t have happened years ago. It’s so interesting to see this development, especially when you’re an artist. I really see my sneaker collection as a reflection of myself – I’m pretty versatile, so I like it [really] sneakers out there.
Are there any sneakers out there that you couldn’t get hold of? Are you still looking for them?
The biggest loss for me last year was the off-white Air Jordan 5s in gray. I remember flying to Vancouver and trying to hit the robots when the plane was about to take off. However, a new color is coming out later this year, and that’s what I’ll try to get.
Do you have any tips for people looking to start collecting?
Buy the Pieces You Love; Just because something is hugely popular and hard to come by doesn’t mean it will be your favorite. Some of my favorite pieces that I wear and love are general releases.
If you’re trying to collect rarer items, definitely do your research. When buying from a website like eBay, make sure that the person you are shopping from has good reviews and that it is not the first item they sell – this can be a warning sign. Even if a price seems too good to be true, I’ll check for fakes in this type of shoe to see what they look like. And I usually send something I’m interested in to some other collectors to ask for their thoughts.