On our quest to find vintage sneaker collectors the world over, our inboxes have been inundated with crates of Jordan, Nike and adidas kicks... no big surprises there. Recently however, we met Nektarious Liolios, a fella with a full-on fetish for New Balance. A relative rookie on the sneaker scene, Nektarious is a late bloomer – a few short years ago he was stung hard by the sneaker bug, and thus began a love affair with NB. We caught up with him to find out just why he has a jones in his bones for the NB brand and why his room looks like a jewelery store!
Hey Nektarious, tell us a bit about yourself and where you hail from....
I am Greek (with a Russian grandmother), born in Germany, lived in London for 11 years and moved to Sydney in 2007. I work in the finance world and have to wear a suit a lot. Which means I don't get near enough opportunity to enjoy and parade my sneakers.
When did you start getting into sneakers?
This was in 2000! Before that, I did not own a single pair of sneakers! Not even for exercise. But I needed something comfortable and I saw this one pair in a shop window that looked kinda nice. It was the only pair of sneakers in that shoe store, by the way. They were grey New Balance 574s... quite plain. I tried them on and they fit like a glove. I only knew NB as a geeky sneaker brand that lonely computer programmers wore. But then I noticed other people around me wearing NBs in some pretty impressive colours and shapes and little by little I started buying more, mainly to match my clothes. I guess it got more serious in 2003 when I bought my first pair that I liked the look of but didn't wear because I didn't want to spoil them. That's when I really started to ‘collect'.
You're in a full-blown crush with these NBs - what is it about them that makes you gaga?
I love the colours and materials, I love the different styles, I love the fact that NB are not ubiquitous, I love the ‘Made in England' concept, I love that NB are not as commercial as other brands. Although I am ‘sold' on NB, sometimes, when I think I have overdone it a bit I try to slow myself down and not spend some money for a while. Ironically, I compensate for that by buying sneakers for my partner. He likes his Adidas ZXs and little by little I managed to ‘grow' his collection to 30+.
Tell us about some of your collection - highlights, lowlights, special collabs?
The Limited Edition (Singapore) has got to be my highlight. It took a while to find it and it cost an arm and a leg, but it's my size and the lock number is special! I was very keen to get some of the early Atmos stuff but was too late. I also have a 20th anniversary 577, which I wear a lot. I am very fond of my 580s. I bought them in Hong Kong the day they were released and must have been one of the first people locally to wear them. I guess about half of my collection is limited in some way.
You've said you have collected and copped kicks from all over the world... any interesting stories along the way?
In my previous job I used to travel a lot around Europe so I ended up checking out the sneaker stores in every city I visited. So my collection has come from the UK, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Greece, Germany, Poland, Estonia, Italy and Luxembourg. Sometimes I would buy a pair that wasn't that special but I made it a souvenir from that particular visit. It's amazing how sometimes you'd walk into a store and they'd have only ONE pair of NB and they'd be something I had never seen before. Since I moved to Australia I travel a lot in the region, so I managed to add some pairs from Hong Kong, Singapore and Japan. I don't have a particular story but what I found amazing is that it's normally the really GOOD shops that stock NB. And there might be only one store in the city or even the country. But luckily there's the web and eBay and I get to travel a bit. When I went to Japan, I thought I'd end up in sneaker heaven but most stores that have an amazing range online did not have that much in the actual store (i.e. Atmos). I do travel to the UK occasionally and I pop into Size? or Offspring for a fix. Crooked Tongues and Hanon are great online stores.
What style of New Balance do you prefer? Most heads go bananas over the 1500...
I only have a couple of 1500s but they ARE fantastic! Maybe I am a little traditional but I kinda like the 576s a lot. Seems to be the one made for me. And I do have an awful lot of 574s because that's what I started with. I like the look of the 4XXs but my feet don't seem to be made for them. I recently got my first 910s and I am still undecided. The bulkiness of the 580s is great but most of them seem a bit tame. Let's hope there will be something more titillating soon (like the Mad Hectic-x-Mita).
What's your grail when it comes to NB?
There are so many great kicks that I don't know where to start. And with so many obscure collabs I don't even think I know them all. Some that come to mind are:
- the eYe Junya Watanabe Comme des Garcons 1500
- the Staple design Pigeon 575
- anything by United Arrows
- the La-MJC collette 1500
Tell us how you store your collection - it looks like a jewellery store!
Well, something had to be done. I was tired of having them in a cupboard or under the bed and besides, what's the point of having a collection when you can't show it to anybody? So I went out and bought a glass cabinet for my favourite 20 pairs. And after a few months I bought another one for the next 20. If I had the space, I'd add a third because I still have got 20 odd pairs hidden away but I guess I'd need a bigger place for that. Although I like collecting NB, I am not crazy when it comes to looking after the sneakers. They either stay in the box (like the Ltd Edition) or I wear them. I know many people are very precious about their collections but they are shoes after all and look best on a pair of feet.
What shoe are you looking forward to dropping in the future...we hear there are some dope colabos dropping soon!
I wouldn't mind seeing some musicians or artists giving their versions. And of course I wouldn't mind designing my own pair. It would be pretty erm...bling. I like sparkles, he he!