ARTICLE BY Sneaker Freaker

Interview: Richie Roxas Has Been Collecting New Balance Since 1994

new balance collection

Want to talk about brand loyalty? Richie Roxas started collecting New Balance in 1994. There’s a lot to be said about committing to a brand for that long, and it’s no surprise why his Instagram handle is aptly named newbalance365. Old enough to have seen the trends come and go, and understanding nothing will last forever, Richie has stayed true to the brand for a number of reasons – none of which have anything to do with hype! He is one of those badass collectors that has surpassed just getting his hands on comfy kicks, transforming into a wealth of knowledge for his peers. Hell, even we’ve called on him more than once!

His collection is gloriously overwhelming, and isn’t confined to his shoe size. Fans of the cult classic New Balance 997 might recognise him as the black-haired man whose features are hidden behind one sweet NB-branded camera! Anything and everything with the New Balance logo, he’s probably got it.

Nerd out with us below!

new balance collection
new balance collection
new balance collection
new balance collection

Richie, we gotta ask, do you actually wear New Balance every day, or is that just for the ‘Gram?
I’d be lying if I said I wear NBs every day. I like to rock Stan Smiths and Tretorn Nylites in the summer, as well as Gazelles and the ZX series. There’s also Clarks Desert Treks, ASICS, Saucony, the Reebok Workout Plus, and FILA Fitness, not to mention some other random non-NB stuff. That said, you will catch me in NB most days.

Are you allowed to wear 990s without knowing their connection to Philly and the DMV?
I’d imagine most people who rock 990s are oblivious to their DMV, DC, Baltimore and Philly connection. So, yeah, it is okay. The 990 has transcended into a global fashion staple these days. And besides... they’re just comfy AF anyhow! DC did it first, though!

Let’s talk NB in 2020 – Tiago, JPs, 327s, 990v2s, and many other standouts. There’s a lot that’s happened, and a lot more to be excited about. What do you make of it all?
This year has indeed been huge for NB. Overall, I’m super happy for the brand, and I’m way into it. Personally, I might not like everything that dropped, but what it does for the brand is more important. Especially during a crazy year like this, it’s crucial to maintain the brand’s success. We’ve seen all brands take a major hit with the global pandemic.

The 992 or 327 might be the shoe of the year NB-wise. I remember when the 992 was out the first time, and barely anybody wanted a pair. I’m also a bit salty I didn’t get the Made in Japan version of the 1300. I need it badly! We still have a few months left in 2020, so I’m sure more bangers are lined up.

What are some of the stories that have stood out?
Personally, I’m not really into stories or marketing campaigns. Of course, I understand how important it is, and how it speaks to demographic – it’s just not for me. Is it a solid colourway and model? Cool! That’s all I need to know if I’ll buy it or not. I do like the marketing around the OMN1S and Kawhi Leonard from earlier this year. A lot of that was entertaining and fun. I got a ‘Boardman Gets Paid’ shirt and applied a black sharpie to it so that it said ‘Boardman Gets Laid’. I get compliments and comments when I wear my ‘Fun Guy’ shirt, too. LFC, Coco, Tiago, and Jamie Foy all had great stories and marketing, too.

You’ve seen the trends come and go. What do you think the sneaker scene is wrongly focused on right now?
Hrmmm, I dunno about ‘wrongly focused’... Things are just different now. I can sit here and list things that I think suck, but those things would be considered good to others. It is what it is, I guess. I’ve never been a big fan of the whole resell/hype thing, and how the two correlate to each other. It seems like a lot of people buy what is hyped instead of genuinely liking it. I dunno. Maybe I’m wrong?

Fashion-wise, I feel like this is an era of ‘anything goes’, like all eras and looks are cool in some way. It’s a big mishmash of too many styles. I guess my biggest gripe is just how difficult it is to score a pair of certain special releases. Bots and hype have made getting kicks really difficult. We’ll have to sit back and see how things morph and turn out.

You seem to have a lot more luck than the average punter. Maybe it’s just dedication?
Equal parts dedication, connections, and spending lots of free time monitoring eBay, IG, Poshmark, JP auctions, flea markets, thrift stores, Depop, Etsy, etc. And just keeping an eye out for weird things that no one else would care about but myself. Having a small size (size 8) also helps. Sometimes people DM me things that they find and think that I might like, which has aided me many times. I have a hawk-eye for NBs. It’s never enough, and I’ll never be satisfied.

Nevertheless, don’t think we missed you picking up the White Pigeons for $27! What a steal. Any other crazy pick-ups lately?
I don’t really mind buying used or crumbled kicks, so I often can score rare gems for a lower price. A lot of people frown on buying a shoe that is falling apart, but not me. For me, it’s important to just have a pair in the archive, regardless of condition. To be able to take it out at any moment and hold it and feel the materials in person. The best pick-ups and deals are always sporadic and unplanned. I’m always on the hunt.

After all these years, how has your interest shifted? Or are you still as hooked as ever?
I would say I am as hooked as ever. My pick-up and buying habits are pretty much the same as 20 years ago. I don’t always have the money or luck to get every release that I want. But there’s always plenty of vintage rarities that are way more interesting to me than any colab. I would totally be happy if colabs, hypothetically, didn’t exist. Collecting and studying vintage models is enough. Colabs and special releases are just a bonus in my eyes.

Why do you think sneaker collectors quickly move to collecting any sneaker memorabilia? Take for instance, those chairs you just got!
For some people, sneakers just aren’t enough! With sneakers also comes a lot of competition. So, starting to collect little knick-knacks and promo items is fun, and sets you apart from others. Some of these items are rarer and more interesting than footwear, too. I was lucky to score these vintage NB foldout chairs from a guy in NYC. In all of my years, I had come across several Nike chairs, but never NB ones! I was the first to DM him an offer, and he said he got a few other offers shortly after. Even cooler, he said he wanted the chairs to go to the right person, and that person was me! He was even nice enough to drive them down to Philly, and deliver them in person. Definitely one of the coolest pieces in my NB archive, without a doubt!

Drop some knowledge on the kids! What NB facts do you know that they don’t?
I’m not the only NB nerd out here! There are definitely other NB nerds that know more than I do. After collecting and being into NB for so long, some of my memory is starting to get foggy with details, as my brain can only store so many NB facts! I do recollect several, obscure colabs that were exclusive to Asia from like 15-20 years ago. Some of this stuff is so rare that it’s not even Google-able anymore. One of my favourites is the NB554 colab with mita, and Fiberops and Whiz. Those pairs are hard to find, and there’s not much info online about them. I wanted a pair so bad at the release, but they were hard to get outside of Japan.

There’s another great NB story concerning the Foot Locker exclusive Turkey/Thanksgiving 990v4s from a few years back... I’ll keep that to myself for now, though. Maybe I’ll tell the tale another day!

Be sure to check out more collectors and in-depth interviews in our Features section!

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