For most of our readers, sneakers are an indulgent hobby. For Ariana, Dakota and Dresden Peters however, it’s all part of the family business. Known online as The Chicks With Kicks, the sisters recently lifted the veil on their colossal collection. And we mean colossal! With over 6000 pairs of dynamite heat on deck, the Chicks are chock-a-block with one-off prototypes, unicorns, player samples and a few that don’t even technically exist according to Nike. We caught up with them in Boca Raton, Florida to find out how this is even possible.
The World's Biggest Sneaker Collection Belongs to Three Sisters: The Chicks With Kicks
Date: March 08 2018
By: Matt Williams
We hear you’ve got a pretty big collection…
[Laughs] That is most definitely true! At last count there were 6000 pairs, but the collection has expanded a whole lot since then.
That’s insane! You’d be hard-pressed to find a bigger collection anywhere in the world.
We’re actually in the process of applying for the Guinness World Record. We’re still waiting to do the official count, though we have no doubt that we own not only the largest, but also the highest-quality collection in the world. Bye bye, Jordan Geller! [Laughs] Only kidding, we are friendly with him.
He needed to create his own ‘ShoeZuem’ just to house his collection. Where do you even store 6000 pairs?
To say they took over our home would be an understatement. It got to the point where we had to build an extension just to house all the sneakers! We now have a commercial building with full climate and humidity control to keep everything safe. It holds the entire collection, except for the Air Force 1s.
Sounds like the Fort Knox of sneakers. Why aren’t the Forces stored there?
Our parents began the collection over 25 years ago and it all started with AF-1s. Our mother was an avid runner and our father a basketball player, so it naturally sparked an interest in sneakers. It didn’t take long before the purchases veered away from necessity and it became a full-fledged obsession! As the collection grew, the Forces always remained in our father’s closet. He expanded the space and, even still, the entire closet is footwear from floor to ceiling. It looks pretty cool though, so we decided to leave them there.
How did the three of you come in possession of the collection?
Sadly, our mother passed away many years ago, but our father continued to add to the collection as the years went on. While friends of his were spending their spare time on clubbing, cars and women, he would spend his on sneakers. It was his way of gearing down.
About five years ago, he decided it was time to retire and passed down both the collection and our family’s commercial development company. Although the collection is a passion and a pastime, it entails a lot of work. Between upkeep and sourcing new additions, maintaining the collection is a time-consuming process; it made sense for our father to pass it down and enjoy his retirement in full.
Has the focus of the collection changed since you all took over?
We have always had a deep appreciation for prototypes, samples and vintage sneakers so there’s a strong focus on those areas; we’re the largest cash buyers of those types of sneakers in the world – although, the vetting process is extreme.
I can imagine. Did you have a passion for sneakers before inheriting the collection?
Absolutely! Just as many people have art accenting their home, we’ve had sneakers. We have sneaker cases in our home featuring rare pairs on decorated shelves. Our father appreciated sneakers as an art form, so we grew up with that same appreciation. Whenever he would purchase a new sneaker to add to the collection, we were always involved.
Back in elementary and middle school, our father would dress us in Air Force 1s. We wanted to wear ballet slippers and sandals, but our father insisted we rock the latest Nikes! [Laughs]
Can’t say I’d be complaining! What's your attitude towards wearing the shoes?
We have almost every brand and every size imaginable in the collection. We even have a six-foot long PUMA Suede! That said, any pair considered part of the collection is strictly off-limits for wearing. We each have our own personal collections of a few hundred kicks that we do wear.
When our father started the collection, he was buying up two or three pairs of a sneaker he really liked, so he’d have one to wear and always have a spare. As the years wore on though, some pairs just became so rare and valuable that he couldn’t do that any more. Some of the pairs, like the prototypes, are irreplaceable. It changed his perspective on sneakers. He began to see them less as items of clothing and more as pieces of art.
So many sneakers! How do you keep track of it all?
Back when our father started the collection, he would write down everything in a little black notebook. He was very meticulous, he operated it like a business – except only with stuff coming in, not going out. He would keep notes on where the sneaker was purchased, the price he paid and any rare features. When we took over the collection, we began to transfer all that information into a database. It took us a year to convert the bulk of it and we are still working on converting all his little hand notes for each pair. Wish us luck – it’s a pretty finicky task!
I don’t think you’re going to find that info out any other way. Can you tell us how you’ve acquired so many insanely rare pairs?
If we told you we would have to kill you! [Laughs] The Nike archives contacted us wanting to know where we got some of the stuff. They’ve been trying to piece together how some of these prototypes left Nike headquarters and they can’t figure it out. Even some of the designers themselves have contacted us through Instagram, because they know some of this stuff is one of a kind and made for specific people.
One pair we have was made for Sandy Bodecker. Nike were completely puzzled as to how that one got out. It is missing the insoles, so it looks like it was intended to be destroyed. Sandy contacted us and was like ‘Applause to you guys!’ He hadn’t seen that pair in years – even he didn’t know where it went!
You did a pretty good job of keeping the collection under wraps until now. What made you decide the time was right to reveal your collection to the world?
Our parents were very private people but my father understands that the world has changed. We weren’t intentionally keeping the collection under wraps, but we also didn’t purposefully expose it either.
In an attempt to reorganise, we began taking pictures of the sneakers. On a whim, we decided to post some pictures to Instagram. Up until that point, most collectors would show off their collection, so you instantly had all these people asking ‘Whoa, who are these people? Where did they come from?’ They couldn’t believe it. The response was incredible, so we continued to reveal more of our collection, and the rest is history.
I can imagine you were hit up with pretty serious offers for some of your pairs.
To this day, we have refused to sell any pairs. We’ve been contacted by the who’s who of the sneaker game at one time or another asking about the collection and wanting to purchase pairs. Every time we post up a Jordan, we get a ton of offers, but we haven’t taken any of them yet.
Do you see yourselves ever selling?
That’s actually what we are looking at with our next venture. We will be opening a one-of-a-kind interactive sneaker store down here in South Florida. When the store opens next year, it will showcase our entire collection, all of which will be available for purchase. We wanted to hold out and make it all available at once. It will be a multifaceted store. We will also offer consignment and a station dedicated to customisation. We are also planning to integrate a dedicated cleaning and restoration department.
The store is still in pre-construction stage, but it will have a real-life bank vault to house all of our rarest and most coveted pairs, as well as a state-of-the-art camera system live-streaming the store’s day-to-day operations online. This will allow customers and enthusiasts alike to have full visual access to the store and inventory 24/7.
Does this mean you’re selling up for good?
This won’t be the end of The Chicks with Kicks! The entire collection will be available when we launch the store, but it’s not like we will sell 6000 pairs all at once. We will still continue to buy and expand the collection, so we will always have something exciting in store. This will simply give us a chance to open it up to a wider audience. We are so excited to bring this to life and showcase our entire collection for the first time, as well as become a part of the retail experience. This is something we’ve never done before and, because we are so involved in the sneaker culture and community, we know it’s needed – especially in our area. We don’t have a Flight Club or RIF down here and none of those places will touch vintage like we do. Recently, we bought 300 pairs of deadstock PUMAs from the mid-70s and we asked the seller if he had been approached by anyone else and he responded that there’s simply no one else looking to buy this much vintage product in bulk.
I guess you won’t be stocking all the latest Yeezys then?
Not that we have anything against them, but they’re not really art in the same way as the stuff we collect. They’re streetwear. Anyone can find a pair of Yeezy BOOSTs on eBay, look at the price and accept that’s what they are trading for. It doesn’t take knowledge. When you start talking vintage and prototypes, you can’t always just jump on Google and look that stuff up or look at Flight Club to find out what it’s worth. We probably have about six to seven hundred prototypes all up. You have to learn the market with that kind of stuff. It takes expertise.
Yeezys are hot right now, but they are making thousands upon thousands of them. They don’t have the same depth of history that, say, an original pair of 1985 Air Jordan 1s has – and they can be had for pretty similar money. You also have all the counterfeits, which just works to degrade the brand and dilute the market. You can barely even tell the counterfeits apart from the real Yeezys nowadays.
True. We look forward to the store opening. It’s been terrific to see such female-driven growth in the market.
It is no secret that men largely dominate the sneaker industry, but we are thrilled to be at the forefront of women’s involvement. Today, it is important that women showcase their passions regardless of whether they’re deemed appropriate or traditional. We love sneakers just as much as the men do!
We are often asked how it feels to be women so involved with sneakers and our answer always seems to be the same: we don’t think about it like that. We love sneakers, we collect sneakers and we are very knowledgeable on the subject. The fact that we are three women doesn’t matter, however, we are excited to be an example and to make women feel comfortable sharing their own unique passions, collections and interests.
Photography: Craig Litten
Additional Photography: Daniel Fortune
Originally published in Sneaker Freaker Issue 39. Get your copy here!
Follow The Chicks With Kicks on Instagram at @thechickswithkicks