Sneaker collectors gather more than footwear

Pairs and pairs of multi-coloured shoes are all stacked on top of each other in the corner of Nicolas Hepner’s front hallway in Toronto.

“I sort of just bought them because they were cheap,” he said.

Hepner has been collecting Converse All Stars since he was 14-years-old. He never considered himself obsessive until quite recently.

“I never really considered myself a collector,” he said. “But I guess looking at all them all I might be.”

Hepner still loves the variety of Chuck Taylor sneakers he owns.

“I can mix and match them,” he said. “I can wear yellow and red, green and black, whatever. It’s really nice to be able to sort of just pick and choose.”

Hepner is just one of the many people in Toronto who love collecting running shoes. Lee Joseph is the owner of the sneaker enthusiast website Toronto Loves Kicks.

“Kicks brings people together,” he said. “It’s a whole culture.”

Lee Joseph is an advocate of sneaker culture. He thinks that the culture behind the shoes is misunderstood.

“It’s really easy to see news about people getting shot over Js (Air Jordan’s) and think of it like it’s just a bunch of materialistic punks,” he said.

Joseph has held multiple events in the downtown area which have shared the name of his website.

“I feel that the interest serves another, better purpose – to bring kids together and out of a bad situation by giving them a goal.”