Street Talk

HK Magazine - - UPFRONT - If you’re a bas­ket­ball fan, don’t miss the “Great­est of All Time” ex­hi­bi­tion, which fea­tures part of Ho­race’s col­lec­tion. Thru Aug 31. 1/F, 7/F, 12/F Hysan Place, 500 Hen­nessy Rd., Cause­way Bay, 2886-7222. lee­gar­dens.com.hk

Ho­race Le­ung has spent more than a decade and hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars on col­lect­ing some 600 pairs of sneak­ers. He’s also the main man be­hind hk-kicks.com—an ex­pan­sive re­source for fel­low sneak­er­heads that col­lab­o­rates with big sports brands on events and ex­hi­bi­tions. He tells Stephanie Tsui how far he’d go for a pair of kicks, and which pair he’d save if his col­lec­tion caught fire.

HK Mag­a­zine: When did your ob­ses­sion with sneak­ers be­gin?

Ho­race Le­ung: I started buy­ing sneak­ers in univer­sity be­cause I needed them for bas­ket­ball. But I couldn’t wear them all so they slowly grew into a col­lec­tion. Michael Jor­dan was—and still is—my fa­vorite bas­ket­ball star, and I thought he was re­ally cool, so I tried to em­u­late him by buy­ing sim­i­lar gear with the money I earned from tu­tor­ing. Maybe it’s a kind of psy­cho­log­i­cal dis­or­der, I don’t know. But I think men have to have some sort of dis­trac­tion from their nine-to-five jobs, and if it wasn’t for my col­lec­tion, I might be gam­bling or do­ing some­thing even more costly.

HK: But shouldn’t you have more “me” time be­cause you’re self-em­ployed?

HL: I’m ac­tu­ally re­ally busy! It may seem like my work is re­ally flex­i­ble, but in re­al­ity I work all the time, even on week­ends. On top of work­ing, my wife has also tasked me with tak­ing care of our six-year-old son. It all takes a lot of sched­ul­ing.

HK: Does col­lect­ing sneak­ers get you girls?

HL: No! Only men who own col­lec­tions of money get girls. That said, my wife doesn’t in­ter­fere with my habit—as long as I’m able to pro­vide for my fam­ily. I quit my full-time job as a sales­man in 2010, the same year my son was born, to run hk-kicks.com, which my then-part­ners would’ve shut down if I hadn’t taken over. It was a crazy move, but I’ve been do­ing al­right.

HK: How far would you go for a pair of sneak­ers?

HL: In New York in 2014 I queued for two hours in -20 ˚C con­di­tions out­side a Nike store for a pair of Air Jor­dan 29. I was in town for an event. When it was my turn, they told me they didn’t stock it! I ended up get­ting a pair at an­other store. Price-wise, the most ex­pen­sive pair of sneak­ers I ever bought cost around US$2,000. They were a pair of Air Jor­dan 1 from 1985. But I’m care­ful about my fi­nances and never spend more than I can af­ford, which is why I con­stantly mo­ti­vate my­self to work harder. It’s not about buy­ing the most ex­pen­sive pair or in­vest­ing in them—sneak­ers dis­in­te­grate with time. Leave them alone for a few years and they’re al­ready un­wear­able. If I wanted to in­vest, my money would be bet­ter spent on col­lect­ing stamps.

HK: Are you picky about your ev­ery­day kicks?

HL: I don’t pur­sue trends, but I do own at least a pair of sneak­ers from ev­ery brand so I can wear them to busi­ness meet­ings with these brands. My ev­ery­day sneak­ers have to be com­fort­able and clean: I toss them out once they get dirty. I hate the worn-in look. The only pair of shoes I wash are my son’s. He doesn’t care for sneak­ers: He likes shoes with Iron Man and Star Wars char­ac­ters on them. My wife doesn’t care for sneak­ers ei­ther, but I get it. It’s like me and lip­stick— all shades look the same to me.

HK: If your col­lec­tion caught fire and you could only save one pair of sneak­ers, which pair would you save?

HL: I’d prob­a­bly just give up my whole col­lec­tion. It’s point­less to save just one pair.

HK: What do you love most about your job and hobby?

HL: I’m lucky to be one of the few peo­ple in the world who can do what they love and earn an in­come from it, in ad­di­tion to get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to meet peo­ple and bas­ket­ball stars, and to visit the head­quar­ters of big sports brands; and get­ting paid to set up an ex­hi­bi­tion where peo­ple show ap­pre­ci­a­tion for your work… These are things money can’t buy.

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