Inside NYC's Craziest Sneaker Closets

Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Meet Lisa Toff, Gina Batlle, Ant Hull, Wendy Lam, and Mike Salzano — five New Yorkers all with one thing in common: a sneaker fetish. This is a special pack that doesn't just consider trainers as part of their daily uniform, but fundamental to how they live and breathe. Crazy new Nike collab? They’re the first in line. Scuffs from a day of walking? You better believe that bottle of whitener is out and ready. And, there's a name for them — sneakerheads.
Sure, you can peep this bunch via their highly addictive Instagram feeds, but we’re stepping into their closets so you can meet ‘em up close and personal. Click through to check out their collections, find out what’s the craziest thing they’ve done to nab that must-have pair, and get in on what they believe the next It sneaker will be (hint: Kanye). When it comes to this crew, there’s no shortage of sole.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Wendy Lam

How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
I lost count since there's new stuff coming in weekly, but it's about 400-plus pairs.

Do they all fit in your closet?
My shoe closet consists of sneakers as well as shoes. There's no way I can fit all my sneakers in the closet, so I just put some of the pairs that I wear often along with shoes I love.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Are the four styles pictured here your favorites?
Yes, at the moment. But, it changes all the time

What is the raddest sneaker out now?
Riccardo Tisci x Nike Air Force 1 High — sneakerheads and fashion people are going nuts for them!
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
What's the most you've splurged on for a pair of sneakers? How much?
When the Isabel Marant wedge sneaker first released. It was priced at $790 before tax.

Any predictions on what you think will be the next It sneaker?
I think the Kanye West for adidas sneaker collection will be a must-have for everyone.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Mike Salzano
Project Analyst

What's the craziest thing you've done to acquire a sneaker?
One night I stood outside 21 Mercer from about 4 p.m. until midnight in the winter for a pair of shoes. At midnight, kids were trying to rush the door, and it wasn't very safe. Oddly, later that week, I found two of the same shoes online and restocked at Mercer. That was the end of camping.

Any fellow sneakerheads you follow that have a great collection?
There’s a ton. @NiceKicksNunez has piles of heat, @S_Galactus collection is insane, and @J23App has a diehard Jordan collection, to name a few.

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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Tell us about the itty-bitty matching sneakers!
The little pairs are for my daughter who is due in May. Luckily, my wife and I are blessed to have a lot of friends in the sneaker community, so they sent over tons of pairs for her. As she gets older, I’m sure I’ll continue to get her into footwear.

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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Are only your favorite sneakers housed in this special container?
I use the drop fronts for a few reasons. First, they're vented, so the shoes aren’t totally cut off. Second, the organizational factor. And, third, for accessibility. I keep very few pairs in another storage area that I cycle in seasonally and also in containers.

Any predictions on what you think will be the next It sneaker?
The next huge thing in sneakers will be the 2015 Nike Mags — the first production shoe with power laces. I know there are some offshoot brands with them, but this could push more moving technology in sneakers. And, what Kanye West is doing — bringing a lot of animosity to the table.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Gina Batlle
Photo editor, Complex

How many sneakers do you own?
I probably own 50 or so pairs of sneakers, not including the multiple pairs of Converse Chuck Taylors I own. I don't even remember what shoes I have at my parents' house, but probably about 20 pairs.

Are the sneakers pictured here your favorites?
The first pair [on the left] are the Air Jordan I that I've spent the most on and are one of my favorites, though I don't wear them very often. I really like simple, more classic silhouettes and the Jordan I is one of the best. The second pair [on the far right] are Nike LeBron 9 Elite GS "Miami Vice." I got those at the Nike employee store in Portland [Oregon]. I paid $60, and they're worth around $400 now. I really like the colors, but this sneaker isn't my typical style — they're super flashy, and I like them for that reason. They're definitely an unexpected pair in my closet. The last pair [on the chair] are Converse x Maison Martin Margiela Jack Purcells. I've been wearing these a lot lately. They're covered in paint, but as you wear them, the paint chips off to reveal the fabric color underneath.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
What's the craziest thing you've done to acquire a specific sneaker?
There's nothing crazy I've ever done except pay over $200 for a pair of Jordans I just needed to have. I went to Flight Club, tried them on, and had to take them home with me. I felt very "sneakerhead" that day. But, they are one of my favorites — so totally worth it!

Is it tough to fit all your sneakers in your apartment?
I recently moved and am in need of a lot of furniture, so it isn't hard to fit them in my apartment. I wear all my sneakers, so it can get a little tricky to have them all accessible, but for now, the floor is their home.

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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Do you store all your sneakers in protective cases?
I wear all my sneakers, so the clear boxes are more for decoration!

Any predictions on what you think will be the next It sneaker?
I think people will always love Jordans, and you can see how much they're in demand by how many retros are being released this year. The Air Max is also having a great year, and these are all classic sneakers I don't think will ever go out of style. People are really responding to high-fashion sneakers and sneakers made with luxe fabrics like the Nike Air Pythons. Collab sneakers are also really trending. But, definitely the next "It" sneaker will be whatever Kanye does with adidas next spring.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Ant Hull
Host, MTV

How did you become a sneakerhead?
I know my obsession started young. Getting new shoes always made me feel great! The shoes my family bought me were from Payless ShoeSource — they were cheap and affordable, but I had shoes on my feet, and every time I received a new pair, I felt like a king. Then, one summer for my birthday my older brother bought me the Air Jordan 7s, and when I got them, I didn’t feel like a king — I felt like a GOD! I will never forget the response from my elementary school friends and how it made me feel. And, from there I was addicted, and I never went back to wearing Payless again. My parents noticed how long those Jordan’s lasted and realized maybe paying more for a shoe that was going to last and that was to my liking was a better investment !
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Favorite pairs?
My favorite shoes now are my Missoni x Converse All Stars. I had wanted those so badly. At the time was living in Boulder, Colorado, and they just weren’t accessible there. So, I had moved to New York and went to a store called Reed Space in the Lower East Side and they had them. I love my Air Tech Challenge II Hybrids (pictured previously) because I got really into tennis in elementary school and my hero was Andre Agassi. Not only was he tennis’ bad boy, but his on court style was amazing. He would wear headbands, denim Nike shorts, and these bright Nike shirts with his signature Air Tech Challenge court shoes. I wanted to be him! So, I when these released, I had to get them — I have three pairs in different colorways. Just Google “Andre Agassi in the '90s” and you will understand completely. Last are my Vans Authentic Winnie the Pooh Editions. As a kid, I would watch The New Adventures of Winnie The Pooh. I loved that show and bought these when I saw them in a store in London.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
Is it tough to fit all your sneakers in your apartment?
I’m grateful that I actually have enough space in my apartment to fit my shoes. Surprisingly. I have a big room, but I am moving out of the East Village soon into Brooklyn, and one of my factors in a place was a room big enough to fit my sneakers comfortably. I found it, so me and sneakers will be trekking across the East River into Brooklyn soon.

Any predictions on what you think will be the next It sneaker?
I have no idea what it will be, but I feel the one that will get the most attention will be Kanye’s sneaker with adidas. With all the drama that surrounded his departure from Nike and how in demand the Red October’s were, I know people want to see what he will do with adidas. We will have to wait until spring 2015 but they will get attention. Interestingly enough, adidas also inked a deal with Pharrell who has great taste, so I’m interested to see what his shoe will look like.
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Lisa Toff
Shoe Designer

How did you become a sneakerhead?
I'll have to credit my stylish mother who always finds beauty in the unexpected and unique. She has a sick dress-shoe collection, so I merged that with more of an urban outlet living in New York City.

Is there anything you wouldn't wear with sneakers?
Several years ago, I was a bridesmaid in my best friend's wedding, and I wore dunks under the dress, so no.

Is it tough to fit all your sneakers in your apartment?
I just moved from a 300-square-foot space in the East Village to an apartment in Hoboken where I have a walk in closet — so, not anymore.
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Photographed by Kristiina Wilson.
What do you think is the raddest sneaker out right now?
Tied between Pierre Hardy's runner and Givenchy's Tyson (but I'm partial to high tops). But, I like what went down the runway at Chanel, too.

Any predictions on what you think will be the next It sneaker?
I hope the hidden wedge is on its way out, and we can transition into sneaker heels. I'm into these DKNY for Opening Ceremony kicks, but this summer it's all about the Rivieras.
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