To celebrate the launch of the New Balance MT580, we'll be doing an #atmoscollectorsclub event in the DC area where local collectors and sneaker enthusiasts will have a chance to mingle and connect around the New Balance brand. Richie Roxas, better known as New Balance 365, will showcase a rare collection of MT580s from his archive throughout the night.
We had a chance to catch up with Richie to talk about his early beginnings as a collector and how his love for New Balance started.
Were you a collector first before you became a New Balance collector?
I started collecting things simultaneously: sneakers, records and movies - just stuff that I thought was cool. I can't say that I started to collect something first, I think I just hit an age and was aware of what I liked and gravitated heavily to my interests.
What is your earliest sneaker memory?
I didn't care about sneakers until I was 11 or 12, just because around then, you wanted to dress cool - or like the people you idolized at the time. For me, I went to school in a pretty rich town and all the kids ALWAYS had on the newest Jordans and Nikes, I could never afford those. I remember in 1991 or 1992 a kid wore a pair of Huaraches to school, and that sneaker just looked so futuristic to me. It wasn't like a clunky basketball shoe or a Converse - it just looked like the future. Before that, shoes were just leather, suede or canvas - this sneaker featured foam, plastic, and neon colors. I went to the mall with my parents, and they were like $90 - and weren't having. After asking a few times, my dad caved in and copped me with the sneakers.
That was my first time caring about a shoe, asking for it and wanting to look cool.
When/how did your love for New Balance begin?
Around 1992, I developed a love for sneakers and would purchase products from almost all the brands. I remember going into the mall to look at and admire the shoes that my parents could not afford to get for me. In the early - the mid-90s, you would go into a store, and the front would consist of Nike, Adidas, and Reebok - brands that were all pretty popular but also pricey at the time. New Balance was not very popular and was always displayed in the corner with the Asics and Saucony. In 1994, I started to gravitate heavily to these brands because they were "The weirdos in the corner that no one checked for," the underdogs to the big shoe companies.
I soon realized that those brands were more comfortable because they were made for running. Running is the same as walking, and in my shoes, I was just "chilling" - I wasn't a basketball guy, so running shoes were made for my everyday lifestyle as opposed to other popular models on the market at the time.
How many pairs of New Balances do you have in your collection?
I currently have over 600 pairs of kicks in total - 400 pairs are New Balances. I don't throw pairs away, so the oldest pair in my collection is the first pair I purchased back in 1994.
What are your favorite pairs of New Balance MT580s that you own or don't own?
- Stussy x New Balance MT580 - my pair is currently on display at a museum in Taipei
- New Balance x Capsule MT580
- New Balance x Stray Rats MT580
A collector never has it all; what is one pair you are hunting for?
I always had two grails, one being the Stussy x New Balance MT580 - which I recently got a year ago. The other one is a New Balance 577 collaboration with a store in England called Offspring - they did a collaboration using a Nike Safari colorway back in 2005. I passed those sneakers up multiple times throughout the years, and now when I try to find them they're just gone. Impossible to find. I've been looking for that sneaker for about 20 years now.
With a lot of high-profile collaborations and the reintroduction of classic styles New Balance has been a brand to watch by many. How do you feel about the recent hype the New Balance brand has received? Is it a bit harder for you to cop the products you want?
Overall, it's good for the brand. There are a few people who may feel differently about it. I don't think they're wrong, but that's a selfish way to look at it. In the big picture, if the brand you love gets more money, they'll have more money to sell cool stuff.