Like most hobbies, shoes are undoubtedly wallet draining. While retail prices themselves are already a deep dive to the pockets, the ever changing market values of our purchases and the painful material depreciation don't help soften the blow. We all know the upkeep of being a shoe advocate, and as long as the love is there, there is no hindrance to one's drive and passion... this realization can outlive even the material manifestation of the hobby itself.
In the online scene, hardcore collectors normally embrace the attention that his collection brings, after all, they've earned it and it's not a walk in the park.
This guy though has chosen a different path.
Known as the man behind the sneaker home, the much raved about Instagram storyteller shares the truth on why he let go of his high profile persona to create a low key online sneaker personality that inspires the #ButterMovement.
Going beyond the profane lingo and videos of sabotaging grails is a soft hearted sneaker head who want nothing more but to give back. This is what happens when sneaker passion collaborates with a higher purpose than just getting likes and reposts.
Everyone is curious to know the man behind the “Sneaker Home”, can you tell us how you started out and what got you into collecting?
First of all, I’m a totally regular dude, I came to the Philippines back in 2008 to start work. I currently work in a few restaurants in Manila and a hotel. Long before I got into collecting samples shoes, I was a pretty avid collector of limited edition G-Shocks. I traveled around the whole world collecting them, believe it or not, it’s kind of pathetic. I guess it all started from that. I loved watches all my life. I guess sneaker culture sort of went hand in hand with G-Shocks so it was a fairly easy transition from one hobby to another. So when I found they go hand in hand, along with the hip hop culture, I loved it. I met a lot of people in sneakers who are also into G-Shocks. A few of these guys I became good friends with and they were so much into sneakers that their obsession kindda rub on me.
What’s up with the funny videos of you playing around and messing up your Yeezys and other heats?
I just sort of got sick of watching most other collectors and social media people taking this hobby too seriously and just wanted to have some fun with it. I think for a lot of collectors the fun has sort of disappeared for them and I guess my little videos are just a way I can try and put back some of the humor into sneakers scene again.
I always say to myself, if I buy a shoe it’s a pair I’m willing to wear. Some I don’t wear because they’ll crumble apart. [Wearing your collection] just became a little thing for me, because the first time I got Turtle Doves, I can only find it in size 14. I go for a size 15 to 16 and the Turtle Doves fit a bit snug and I said f**k it, I paid for 400-500 dollars for them so I decided to wear it as a slip on because it was just more comfortable. And the amount of s**t I took online on how to wear the shoe properly - it was ridiculous! From that day forward it kind of became my thing. You know, I just do some random ridiculous stuff and put my shoes in the toilet.. haha.. and things like that because I understand the collectability and the nature of collecting, but I do want people to remember that in the end of the day these are just shoes. I mean they were meant to be worn.
Some of the other funny videos I do are a few brands I don’t have the utmost much respect for just because I feel these brands don’t really give back to the sneaker community. So I do some parity videos that get into a lot of trouble and get lawyers telling me to get the video down. I do a lot of videos like that because it keeps it entertaining. It keeps it real. It keeps it above the shoes and a little bit more fun I guess.
We’ve seen videos of your #ButterMovement - you giving away Jordans and food to the homeless. Can you tell us more about it? We're loving how generous you are. We all need some positivity and that is awesome!
The actual Butter Movement itself kind of started by accident. I was trying to pick out an Instagram name. I was looking into all these different names and I wasn’t sure I wanted my actual name and Shoe Butter came about.
This is the truth, I don’t really talk about my G-Shock days in terms of the size of the collector I was because I’m a little bit embarrassed by that life, but for the sake of this interview I will. I had about 800,000 followers on Facebook, the truth is it very quickly became about me and my ego started to inflate like a mother f***er. I was pounding my chest - look what I have you don’t - and after about 2 years of really being involved in the FB community and really look at who I am, I just sort of mentally burnt out. I was completely identified with this person that I created online and the one thing that brought me back to life was giving back. I was fortunate, with my business, to be in a position where I was able to help other people, and what kept me grounded was giving back.
I just said to myself if I get back into Instagram I’m not going to ever allow myself to be this person that I was before. I made a commitment on day 1 to never use my platform to put myself above somebody else or to earn a penny at the expense of other people especially the shoe community. I just want to dedicate my page in giving back to the community, and when I say community I also mean the G-Shock community. Because this community has given so much to me and then again it’s just a community that by nature it’s a taking community. It doesn’t give back a lot and I wanted to make it different.
I even struggle, to be honest with you. I go buy cheeseburger and food, probably two-three times a week, I try to do it as much as I can and usually if there’s a good month at work I’ll give back a lot. But with every positive comment that you got out of it there is always a negative comment like “Why are you doing this? If you really cared you wouldn’t be videoing.” and it’s fair enough I don’t have a rebuttal to that other than to say all I’m trying to do with the videos was to show the kids that there’s a different way in doing life than what we see a lot online.
That’s what butter movement is about, it’s about giving back, helping the kids, helping bring back some fun to the community at large. We’ll see where it goes.
With all your experiences with #ButterMovement , what would be your most unforgettable?
If I had to pick one experience of what has made my life process in terms of collecting the most enjoyable and unforgettable it would be without a doubt the countless people that I have met from all walks of life and from all corners of the world over the course of the last 5-6 years of doing this. I can honestly say I wouldn't be doing any of this anymore if it weren't for the amazing people I have met and who have carried me along this journey.
The interesting things about social media, is with all of the negative things - and there is a lot - there’s also the positive, which is the countless of friendships. Like Marc Mercado, these relationships that started with a simple DM. I got lifelong friends from the G-Shock community and in the sneaker community. It’s very easy to meet someone; all the barriers are already broken down because you already know what you’re going to be talking about. So for me, experiences that I’ll cherish the most are without a doubt, the friends over the years.
What’s your say with fakes?
I support fakes 100% because I think sneaker culture is flawed right now. I don't think the systems to get shoes are created equally and I think they are dominated by bots and backdoor deals, where you have a retail shoe for $200 the day of its release and before it has even reached the market it’s worth $2,000. It’s an arbitrary number pulled out from resellers.
Kids aren't given a real fair chance to own most of the shoes they really want because they have become a currency for too many resellers. So for me, I think just as resellers have become a huge part of the sneaker community, so has fakes and both are results of a flawed system. I don't judge anyone for wearing fakes and personally, I think if you’re a kid with growing feet you are better off buying a $30 pair of fake Yeezys than asking your parents to pay $1000 or more for a real pair.
I support fake sneakers because until such time the sneaker community is not flawed and it’s not a rigged system, I continue to support that. I think every kid should be able to be part of a sneaker culture and be able to wear any shoes without being ridiculed. That’s my take on fakes.
Besides shoes, what else do you like collecting?
95% of my energy is spent on sneakers. Other than shoes it would have to be G-Shocks and watches in general. For the past 10 years I’ve been collecting G-Shocks. I have over 2000 G-Shock watches from all over the world, but to be honest I probably bought just about 3 to 4 G-Shocks in the last 9 months, I haven’t really been active.
Believe it or not, I collected tea pots and tea cups. For my eldest aunt [who loved tea cups], my wife and I started searching teacups together. For about a whole summer - this is a bit embarrassing to admit actually haha.. - we ran around to all the different antique stores throughout lower mainland Canada. I ended up amassing this collection for my aunt, I would say about 120 really rare teacups for her. One of these sets would be like my Eminems, it's worth about Php 100,000 and I bought it off for like maybe Php 5,000.
I have collected cars over the years, but to be honest I’m not really a gear head. I have a few nice vehicles but nothing really to brag about, other than that basically it’s just shoes and G-Shocks, and the way I did both of them, it was enough. It’s all consuming I really didn’t have time for anything else.
The one thing about collecting and it naturally happens when you’re in any hobby for somebody to ask questions like “Oh how did you get to where you are?”. For me guys, and I’ll make this very clear, I didn’t start collecting anything whether it would be sneakers, watches or teapots until I was basically 29. I started working in my business when I was 17 and literally dedicated my whole life to it. 18 hours a day, I didn’t take weekends, holidays, lunch breaks. I gave everything to this career. It was when I was in the position that my son’s school was paid for, my house was paid for, and when I had disposable income that’s when I really got into sneakers. Although my collection grew very quickly, this is not something that happened overnight, this was a 20 year passion project to get to where we are right now.
I’m a very strong believer of not looking at the outcome of what you want, not being goal oriented saying I want Yeezys, I want Eminems or I want a house or a car. Trust the process. And the process involved really just hard work and time. Never look at the goal and be envious of the goal. Look at the process that was involved in achieving that goal and you’ll respect it a lot more and when you look at it, that person is not lucky they busted their a** to get there. So for me, it’s what goes behind the scene is usually a more a lot difficult than what that Instagram picture indicates.
When you started tagging #Shoephoric on Instagram you were hitting 5,000 followers, now in a few months, you’re at a whopping 70K+. What do you have to say about that?
Yeah, it’s funny cause when we first met I guess I had about 5,000 followers. The truth is, when I started on Instagram I didn’t know what to expect. I knew how viral things can go, cause of my experiences I got from watch collecting but I didn’t’ have a plan. I collected shoes and watches and I never really documented it. If you check Instagram in the earlier days I was upload about 20 to 30 pictures a day because it wasn’t for anyone else. It was simply just to go out and have a place to showcase everything that I owned and also (being embarrassingly humble here) to look back and check if I already owned that shoe. It’s a bit of a champagne problem to have, I admit that but it’s true. It’s a not a well documented system that I created. And not to my surprise people started to talk about it, it was actually Marc who said to me here’s the people you should tag and to this day, a year and a half later I still hashtag all of the same people and shoephoric was one of the main tags that I have made.
I honestly stopped looking at the number of followers, I chose to look at the growth of the channel more as an opportunity for each milestone to recommit to the people that I am following.
As for the growth of the platform, I have to take on a few things. I did do a video and I am shockingly embarrassed by the title of it. I was approached by a platform in the US and they asked me to do a collection video, and I said sure why not. So I got featured in this channel and the guy asked me a question:
How much do you think your shoe collection is worth? - I said I don’t know man.
Do you think it’s worth over a million dollars? - Probably..
Well, how much?! - I don’t know.. and I made a joke probably 5 million.
It was a joke! Well the next thing I know the title of the video is “The anonymous 5 million dollar collection” and I was sitting here going, what the F… I got my mom and my dad phoning me like “You spent how much money on shoes?!”
Again I don’t want anything from that platform, it was just about showcasing my shoes. I actually gave all the credit to a really good friend. But from there the account when from probably 5800 to almost overnight to 20,000, it was a blessing in disguise on one hand and a challenge on the other. Cause now I have a lot of kids following me and I had clean up my act a bit. I still get caught in my old ways in being crude and rough around the edges.
So the growth comes from the consistency of posting, I really focused on the captions and create a story about the shoes. Keeping it fun and light and having a good time. So I guess a combination to all those things sort of lead to where it is now.
Your shoe house is burning and you have a chance to grab just 5 pairs. What would they be and why?
There’s really only 1 pair of sneakers that I would choose and it may come across a little funny, but I would only save the Stewie Griffin 6. When I got into sneaker collecting I grew up with Lebrons, for me the Stewie 6 was the grail among all grails that I really wanted.
I have a couple of pairs of OluKai flip flops. I bought my first OluKai about 10 years ago and I absolutely fell in love with them. They just mold to your feet, my goodness they are just incredible. So I definitely need to save a pair of them.
I wear Jordan slides probably 300 days in a year so I’ll have to grab a pair of Jordan slides as well.
I have a son who’s 18 months old, I did buy him a pair of the Turtle Doves. He got those, the pirate black and more, so I probably grab a pair for his feet.
For my wife who I love to pieces as well, I have to get her a pair of shoes too and she really likes these Chanel espadrilles. Yeah, so that’ll be the 5 that I’ll save from the fire.
What’s your next shoe purchase?
The truth to that is that my collection kind of gotten to a point that where there’s not really a lot that I want that I actually know of, so what I mean about that is I kind of been able to acquire most of the shoes that were really like “Oh I really want that!” and what ends up happening is that I have close friends from different brands who message me on shoes that I might like.
But if I have to choose one shoe missing from my collection that would be the Undefeated 4. Now I don’t purchase sneakers for the sake of owning them, although the Undefeated would be one of them that I wouldn’t wear too regularly because of the age of the shoe. I’m a natural size 15 and I have heard that the Undefeated had 1 pair in size 16, so that would be a shoe worth looking into. I’m the type of guy that doesn’t believe in miss opportunities. If it’s not meant to be then it’s not meant to happen. I don’t get emotionally attached over shoes.
For you, what does it mean to be #shoephoric?
Funny, when Marc first mentioned Shoephoric to me I remember going to your site and reading something like “immensely happy for the love of shoes” so I’m like oh okay euphoric and shoes. I guess for me to be a fan of you guys is the way you guys and everyone is connected. I absolutely love when people come together for shoes.
For me it means people from all over the world, from all walks of life, from all social status, from all financial status, from different backgrounds, coming together, and it doesn’t matter what you believe in outside of those doors. When you’re together it’s the bond that was created by shoes. I believe companies like you are doing a tremendous job for spreading the love and bond that sneaker collectors have. That’s an amazing thing that you guys are doing and I love to see stories that go beyond just commerce. I can tell when I met you guys at a sneaker convention, how passionate you guys are, how accepting and loving and kind you guys were, was amazing.
Shoephoric embodies the same principles [as Butter Movement]. That it’s more about the respect for the community. The more I started reading and following you guys the more I realize that the values that you guys have and the way you conduct yourselves in a day to day basis is exactly what I’m trying to strive to do every day myself. I have the utmost respect for Shoephoric, the sneaker communities and particular the sneaker communities in the Philippines. So Thank you!
I’m just humble and very greatful to your readers. To all the wonderful people that make collecting sneakers in the Philippines enjoyable and fun. To the people who are striving to get their first pairs, I shout you guys out. You guys are the real heroes of the story.
Thank you for this interview. I’m definitely team Shoephoric and team Philippines 100%.
Images from shoebutter