The history of Pump wouldn’t be complete without a collector waxing lyrical about their stash. After a worldwide search, we finally tracked down a polite New Jersey afficionado by the name of DJ Senatore. Like the Canadian mounties, we had our man! With a grab-bag full of vintage Reebok relics, not to mention all the recent colab Pump releases, DJ was generous enough to reveal his crib chocablock with Pump delights. With provenance now confirmed of his 160+ pairs of Pumps, we are delighted to confirm that in our esteemed opinion, DJ Senatore is officially crowned the World’s Greatest Pump Collector! Peep exclusive pics of his collection right here!
Hey Mr DJ, tell us where you’re at!
I grew up in Fords, New Jersey. Lived there all my life. Got into Pumps at the start of this decade and it’s just snowballed. Some people call me the biggest Reebok Pump collector in the world.
Alright (laughs) we’ll get to that. Let’s go back to high school, what happened with you and sneakers?
I always had nice shoes as a kid. My parents spoiled me so I always had all-new Nikes and in freshman year at high school, I started hardcore collecting, going to school late for shoes and now it’s come full circle. I own Rare Breed Footwear in Long Branch, New Jersey. We opened a little over two years ago with my business partner, Stephen Perri. It’s going great so far. Doing what I love so you can’t beat it.
Amen. Tell me about the Pumps because I gotta say, we know a lot of people and we can’t find anyone packing as much Reebok heat as you.
I got started back in 2001 I think, when they did a retro of the Omni Lite and Foot Locker had three colourways and one was white with royal blue and orange. It just reminded me of the originals so much. Then they started doing limited editions and it just snowballed. I was picking up samples on eBay and then I got into original vintage and it’s just mayhem. That’s all I do all day, well not all day, but you know, I’m always searching, especially for something I’ve never seen before.
Why are you nuts about Pumps?
Pump goes back to when I was a kid, I remember Dee Brown but it was just the look of them. They look retro and original and they just caught my eye and eventually down the line I realised that nobody else really was into collecting them like I was. Everybody goes on about Jordans and Air Max and whatever but I thought, ‘well, I like this, why not go hard!’ And that’s where I am today.
At what point did you realise that you’ve actually got a collection? In my experience, we all start out small and build it up and then at some elusive point, you realise you’re nuts deep. Where are you at?
That’s the thing, no one can actually remember how and why they got so far into it. To be honest, I’d probably say maybe the last two years is where I tipped, and since I had the store I realised that this was getting to another level. My business partner always says ‘Enough with the Nikes! If you want to do something, be the best!’ And I gotta admit he was right.
How far back do you go with your vintage?
The oldest pair I have is the original of The Pump which is 1989. That’s as original as it gets.
How are they holding up?
Pretty good. Most Pumps hold up better than any other vintage shoe I‘ve seen. You get a couple of things like the plastic straps that are a little fragile but for the most part, the soles and everything are all intact. The leather is still awesome.
What’s the grail?
The grail used to be the green Alifes! I keep talking about this Double Pump that I lost on eBay and they are definitely evading me. You know what I don’t have? I don’t have a Bringback, the last retro, I don’t have it. They go for about $500 on eBay too.
Really? The Bringback retros from a few years back?
Yeah. Hopefully I’ll get my hands on them one day. There’s a lot of Japanese releases I can’t get my hands on either, just because they won’t ship to the US. I’ve got some connects now that I’m working on, even though the exchange rate is killer.
I see you have some unreleased samples as well.
Yeah I do have a couple of unreleased samples. I picked up the hybrid Twilight Zone which has a TZ upper with a football cleat bottom on eBay maybe a month ago. Got the prototype tag on it and everything. I don’t know the story behind it, they were never released.
Which other models are you particularly proud of?
I love the Pump Arsenal which I’ve only seen once in my time. What else? The Alife collab in the tennis ball green which I have five pairs of is probably my favourite. The LCS has a pump that pumps up the sole, it actually gives you a little lift. I can go on.
I just got the Shaq Attaqs. Both original colourways cost me a pretty penny but are well worth it. The Ubiq collab with the Court Victory Pump is cool, I think just 48 pairs were made. It was actually tough to get because they wouldn’t sell them to me over the phone. What else? The Dee Brown anniversary pairs which I had signed… Last time I counted I was up to about 160 pairs of Pumps.
Whoa! I’m a little worried that I’m blowing your cover. When this story breaks, the gig is up… can you put my conscience at rest? Are you cool with it?
I get a little nervous about that too, now that it’s all coming out. When I first started buying Pumps on eBay I was getting originals for fifty bucks, maybe a hundred. I was getting samples without even breaking a sweat. Now I watch these auctions and they’re just sky-rocketing but what can you do?
It’s probably Reebok staff buying them back to make retros (laughter).
Don’t laugh. I met one of the guys out in Germany that buys up all the retros and I was like ‘You’re the guy who loses eBay auctions to me!’ So maybe he’s the one now beating me up because they’re going to $500. Some I’ve seen get put up
and within two hours, it’s up to a couple of hundred.
So somebody’s out there!
Were you a Shaq fan?
Shaq I definitely remember being with the Orlando Magic.
He was this massive guy coming to play basketball, the biggest we’d ever seen. I always remember I’d go into Athlete’s Foot in the mall and look at the size 20 in the window and think I could fit my whole body in there.
I got those.
You have the whole pair? I don’t have a pair. I’ve never seen an actual pair.
You have the whole pair?
I’ve only got half. They look like a giant canoe or something. Like you can paddle down a river in them…
Imagine how big the rest of him is, I mean he’s huge! (laughter) I’ve seen one pair on eBay but it was totally destroyed so that would be a cool thing to have. I’ll have to keep my eye out for them.
I noticed there’s no Pump runners or Pump Furys in the collection. Are you strictly a high top man?
Hmmnh. All I know is the Dual Pump and I don’t do them or Insta Pumps. There’s a ton out there and I think if I get into that, I’m spreading myself too thin money-wise. So I’ll stick to basketball style like the Court Victory and Omni Lites, stuff like that.
Where do you keep all your shoes?
Believe it or not I keep them all in my bedroom. I pretty much have a whole basement area to myself so it’s just my bed and a TV and my walls are literally lined with storage shelves. People always ask me why I don’t keep them in a storage unit and it’s just no fun at that point I think. Sometimes you just want to take out a pair of shoes and look at them, maybe you haven’t seen them in a while. I always wanted to have a nice little set up in my house but I always get nervous about dust and sunlight and the yellowing and cracking of the soles. For now they’re just all in the boxes.
Do you ever think it’s weird that you’re collecting something that you can’t wear, can’t even look at that often and at some point in time might completely disintegrate into just a pile of rubbery glob?
I do… I think about that. I always think I’m keeping all these deadstock shoes and what if eventually they break down from being old and that’s a tough thing! Luckily I can get a pair to wear and enjoy and a pair to collect. But, I don’t know, it’s just … it’s an odd thing that I’ve been doing this for so long and it’s still cool to get that new pair and you just can’t wait to get it in the mail. Something about Reebok, it never gets old.
There’s also something about collecting that’s satisfying in a perverse way. It’s almost like the more money you put into it, the more you scratch that itch.
Yeah, feed the beast! Sometimes I think ‘What am I going to do with all these Pumps?’ But who cares? I have all of them and I’ll give them to my kids. I’ve been doing this all my life really and that rush when you find something you’ve never seen before is still there.
You’ve just been to Berlin as a guest of Reebok to show off your collection. It must be quite odd to be so young and blown up as the ultimate Reebok collector?
Yeah! It’s cool to me because I see all these famous rappers who are known as the Air Force 1 guy or whatever and they get to do all these awesome parties and stuff. For me it’s just cool to have people recognising you as the guy who collects Pumps! They get excited to meet you and look at your shoes and all this stuff you have, it’s just a cool experience.
How was it to meet Paul Litchfield? He’s a character.
Meeting Paul was pretty surreal. It was the coolest thing I‘ve ever done. I was lucky enough to get to dinner with him for probably an hour and a half and I just sat there in awe listening to everything he said. It was literally the coolest thing. I couldn’t believe I was sitting there talking to this guy.
What does your mum think? Presumably she indulged your childhood demands and now you’ve been flying around the world being treated like a superstar.
Absolutely. When I started she would get mad because at Christmas time she wanted everything to be a surprise and once I started getting into this shoe thing she didn’t know where to get them so I would have to go on eBay. She started to realise it was becoming a lifestyle and she said to me the other day ‘Who would ever have thought that me buying you all these shoes for Christmas would actually turn out to do you good!’ She can’t even believe it. So it’s cool. Most parents would put a stop to that and say you’re wasting your money.
We’re not allowed to talk about it officially but with the Pump 20 stuff coming up are you holding out to collect all 20? How are you approaching this?
I know! I know! It’s extremely limited from what I hear. I made some connections so I got my fingers crossed. I’m hoping for the whole set because otherwise it’s gonna be a nightmare to buy them all at retail.
You don’t sound like you’re about to stop Pumping anytime soon?
I keep trying, there’s a couple that’ve evaded me but there’s not too many I’ve missed out on. I do have a lot of sneakers, that’s true. I just love these Pumps. I don’t know what it is, I can’t stop. I got a watch list on eBay and if I can get them for a good price they’re gone! I am amazed how something pops up that I don’t have! How many Pumps did they put out in the ‘80s and ‘90s? I don’t even know! That’s the thing…
Make sure you check out our complete Pump20 coverage!