FOUND: A SNEAKERHEAD

Christo­pher Ward’s 100+ col­lec­tion

Ottawa Magazine - - CONTENTS - BY ALYSSA BELTEMPO

When Christo­pher Ward was 12,

he saved money from his job at a ten­nis club to buy a pair of First Gen­er­a­tion Nike Shox for $293.78. It was the first in­di­ca­tion that young Ward would grow up to be what is now known as a sneakerhead.

These days, Ward, 31, keeps his col­lec­tion in an out­build­ing next to his North Gower home. There, along with vin­tage posters and triathlon me­men­toes, stand three racks hold­ing over 100 sneak­ers.

His fas­ci­na­tion for sneak­ers is tied to his fam­ily, which in­cludes a former com­pet­i­tive marathoner and a spon­sored skate­boarder. Ward ran cross-coun­try at St. Lawrence Col­lege and is an ac­com­plished triath­lete. He even met his wife on the ten­nis court. Now, he’s a per­sonal trainer and a man­ager with the Car­leton women’s var­sity hockey team.

Much like other groups, sneaker cul­ture has sub­cat­e­gories. Sneak­er­heads — those who col­lect, trade, and/or ad­mire shoes as a hobby — can gen­er­ally be cat­e­go­rized into four types: the Hype­beast, the Orig­i­nal, the Col­lec­tor, and the Re­seller.

With a gen­uine love for the de­sign and lit­tle con­cern for flashy col­lab­o­ra­tions, Ward falls un­der the Orig­i­nal cat­e­gory. Leave the band­wagon-jump­ing to the Hype­beasts. In­deed, Ward of­ten waits for a trendy shoe to wane in pop­u­lar­ity be­fore wear­ing it or do­nates ex­cess pairs once a style be­comes main­stream. (Last sum­mer, Ward donated 25 pairs of shoes to Feet for Phoenix, an ini­tia­tive run by a friend who cred­its Ward with pro­pel­ling him to his cur­rent job as a con­tent cre­ator for Ree­bok.)

Plus, Ward ac­tu­ally wears his sneak­ers, dif­fer­en­ti­at­ing him­self from the Col­lec­tors and the Re­sellers. “I build my out­fits from the shoe up,” he says. In­deed, even while wear­ing a sim­ple cot­ton top and ca­sual shorts, Ward has an easy con­fi­dence.

With fre­quent ref­er­ences to Steve Pre­fontaine, An­dre Agassi, and Rod Laver through­out our con­ver­sa­tion, it’s clear Ward loves the clas­sics — a true Orig­i­nal. As he pulls out a crisp white pair of Nike Cortez (fa­mously worn by Tom Hanks in For­rest Gump), I catch a glimpse of the young Ward open­ing up those Shox for the first time. Money is no ob­ject, how much would you pay for a pair of sneaks? $500 Nike or Adi­das? Nike Vans or Con­verse? Vans Wear or Col­lect? Wear Old­est pair of sneak­ers you own? 25 years old Most re­cent sneaker pur­chase? ASICS Gel-Lyte Favourite Col­lab­o­ra­tion? Roger Federer Air Max 95 Yeezy - Yes or No? No Vin­tage or New? Vin­tage Favourite place to buy sneak­ers? Paragon Sports, New York City If a sneaker were named af­ter you, what would it be called? Stead­fast

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