Sneakerhead Shiyi Zhou, a senior, looks for the meaning behind a shoe, not just the exterior aesthetic. He has accumulated nearly 50 pairs of running and basketball shoes, each with a different backstory.
Zhou said he knew he wanted to collect shoes following a trip to the mall with his mom in China in eighth grade.
“Every other kid wanted toys or video games,” Zhou said. “But I remember the Jordan IV colorway caught my eyes, and from then on I started collecting shoes.”
Describing his strategy, Zhou said he mainly collects Nike shoes within $100 to $200.
“I never get them from resale because they’re way too expensive, unless I really like them,” he said. “I collect a lot of Jordans, but my favorites are probably (Nike) SB Dunks. Swoosh (Nike) over Stripes (Adidas).
“My Air Jordan One Bred Toes that I bought four years ago for $120 are now worth $4,000.”
Over time, Zhou said he’s become pickier when he decides to add to his collection.
“I used to collect Jordan 11s, and I had four different colorways, but then I got tired of that because it didn’t feel special,” he said. “Now, I look individually at a shoe — like how much art is put into it. I really focus on the artists who create the shoes and the story behind it.”
Zhou said he sometimes buys women’s shoes, noting artist Melody Ehsani, who collaborates on the Jordan brand. Zhou said women’s shoes are “bold with the color, and I like shoes that aren’t boring.”
“(Ehsani) made these super-colorful shoes with a watch on each lace,” he said. “They were rainbow color and had graffiti on the side. They were so dope, so it didn’t really matter (to me) if they were boys’ or girls’ shoes.”
Although Zhou wasn’t able to purchase the Ehsani shoes for various reasons, he said his interest in them sparked him to look more into the color and art behind shoes.
Recognizing the financial burden of maintaining a large shoe collection, Zhou said he’s started looking to sell some of his sneakers.
“I love the shoes, but at some point, I might have to choose between my survival or collecting shoes,” he said. “But if I get to go to a super-important game in an NBA arena, I would wear the shoes that mean a lot to me.”
Like many K-pop fans, senior Yumi Moon has collected numerous photocards of her favorite artists and groups. She has amassed around 150 photocards.
“Photocards are like mini-photos that sometimes come in albums, but you can also buy them individually or in packs,” Moon said. “For my birthday, my friend got me a pack of photocards of the same person. It was about 50 of them, so they can come in big bunches.”
Grace Naify, ’19, gave Moon a K-pop album in her sophomore year, kick-starting Moon’s collection.
“I didn’t want to throw away their faces, so I just started to (stockpile) them,” she said.
Moon said she looks forward to seeing which card comes with a new album.
“When I buy a K-pop album, I’m excited to see which member I get,” she said. “Exo, for example, has nine members.”
Moon has compiled her correction through gifts, albums and a skin-care shop that gives away free photocards with a purchase, so she said she didn’t know how much her photocards cost. Amazon sells Exo sets (56 cards) for $7.99.
Moon enjoys bonding with her friends over K-pop.
“I have a lot of friends in Korea who are really into K-pop obviously, and we still text and call a lot,” she said. “They got me into it. It’s all about friends and connections.”
Moon compared photocards to the poster phase middle school students often go through with their favorite bands and artists.
“A lot of people in middle school had posters on their walls to represent their favorite groups,” she said. “I was never into that because I thought it made my room look messy. These photocards are like mini-posters that I can store somewhere else.”
Moon keeps her photocards tucked away on her bookshelf.
“I keep them in the corner of my bookshelf because it creeps me out,” she said. “I don’t want them staring at me. That’s weird.”
Lights. Camera. Action. Sophomore Dylan Margolis, a film fanatic, boasts a collection of 350 movies, including some classic Disney VHS tapes that he says are now worth thousands of dollars.
The collection, which was started by Margolis’ parents before he was born, contains countless animated Disney movies and the entire “Star Wars” saga. One movie, a 1992 “Beauty and the Beast” Black Diamond Classic Collection on VHS, is worth $3,000, according to Margolis.
However, Margolis said collecting movies was never a conscious decision.
“For a while, I didn’t think much of it,” Margolis said. “But then my friend came over and said, ‘Wow, you have a ton of DVDs.’ I hadn’t known that I have around 350 movies at home.
“(My brother and I) used to get all our DVDs from Dimple, but since it closed (last September) we haven’t added to our collection.”
Margolis attributes this massive collection to his enjoyment of movies and his bond with his older brother, senior Jackson Margolis.
“We probably watch movies three or four times a week,” Dylan said. “My brother and I fight about (how to organize) them. He wants to categorize them by genre, but I want to categorize them alphabetically. Right now, they are in genre mode.”
Dylan said he prefers physical copies over digital ones because of the access DVDs provide.
“I like having all the options and not being restricted based on some trade deal between big companies,” he said. “I don’t like digital versions because it doesn’t feel like you’re really owning it.”
Margolis’ interest in film extends beyond contemporary and classic movies. Margolis said he also enjoys old black-and-white films, but doesn’t have any in his collection.
“I also watch a lot of silent films, but stores usually don’t have them, and I don’t like to order online,” he said.
—By Jackson Crawford
Originally published in the Feb. 4 edition of the Octagon.