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Interview with Sneaker Freaker Founder Woody: "I’ve only got three or four pairs that I would consider off limits."

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One of the most important and iconic sneakerhead publications in the world is Sneaker Freaker, a tri-annual magazine produced out of Australia that's sold (and coveted) in more than 43 countries worldwide.

Racked caught up with head Freaker Woody—real name: Simon Wood—in Berlin where we learned about his new collaboration with Lacoste (more on that later), how he created Sneaker Freaker, and where he keeps his 1,000 pairs of shoes.

How long have you been collecting sneakers?
Since I was a kid. As a professional, eight years I’ve been writing about shoes every day—and looking at them and photographing them and obsessing over them.

There’s a great thing sneaker guys do—a similar thing that car guys do, when they’re out cruising, they check their car’s reflection in the window of a shop or whatever—you’re always looking at your shoe, looking at how your denim falls over your shoe.

Which sneakers are you wearing today?
Lacoste. I always wear the brand. Nike will make you take your shoes off [if you don't].

How many pairs do you own?
1,000—a thousand is not that many. I’m lucky I have a relatively spacious office. If they were at home, I would be in trouble. If you start to seriously add them up, they’re all roughly the same dimension, but I have a probably another 2,000 pairs of shoes just sitting there, pairs from the magazine accumulating dust over there. If I was a size nine, I could have 5,000 pairs of shoes, probably.

Do you have any you won't wear?
I’ve only got three or four pairs that I would consider off limits. The Anaconda Air Force Ones—I should probably wear those. I have the Ultimate Superstar 35 in a box that Adidas sent me—I wouldn’t wear those because they’re beautiful and they’ve got a leather sole—it’s an incredible thing that they made, but they’re not my size. There were only a few pairs made in the world, so I’m just happy to have them. They’re sort of on permanent loan, I guess, because if they ever needed it for an exhibition, I’d let them have it.

There was a massive thing about seven or eight years ago when we started putting a pair on ice. So you bought two pairs and you put one on ice and you had a pair to wear. As the industry sort of got what kids wanted, pumping out more and more and more, that idea sort of evaporated, because next week there was another shoe that was pretty so you bought that and you bought another one. Most collectors my age have a bunch of stuff they’ve never worn because they’ve bought one just for later.

Sometimes I'll wear a pair to work and then I’ll change at lunchtime or something. If something turns up at the office, I’ll wear it down the street then I’ll put something else on again. Just depends on what mood you’re in.

How did Sneaker Freaker start?
I did it for two years as a hobby—I was a grphic designer and a writer and worked in the film industry and in advertising—I just did the first issue in a week. It was pretty raw. We had an opening night party and hundreds of people showed up. And I was like, "God, what’s going on here?"

What came naturally as a result of doing a magazine like that was that it created a community of people in our hometown. Then it created communities in other towns, sometimes through digital connections. It’s positive for the industry because you have the stores, the brands, and then we’re sort of in the middle, filtering things and keeping it going. We really work the same way as a car magazine, or any special interest magazine. Even Vogue is same way, really, it’s fashion.

Has the mission of the magazine changed over the last few years?
I don’t think our mission statement’s changed, but the industry’s changed. And we can only reflect back to our audience what the industry creates. There’s thousands of shoes we can choose from. And each time we do the magazine, we probably have 2,000 in our office and we sit there going mental trying to work out which ones we like—and maybe we put two shoes together that are really different or they’re the same. So if you look back to the mgazine from two years ago—or even the book—you look at the shoes, it was a little more naïve, a little more underground sort of thing that became commercial really quickly. We had enormous coverage in the media. The New York Times asked if they could come interview us and were surprised, “Wait, you guys aren’t in New York?”

It’s just one fo the great things about Sneaker Freaker magazine—it’s made in one of the furthest away place in the world you can get to the action in some ways. It’s sort of a reflection now that with digital you don’t really need to be in New York to do something cool. It helps, you’ve got everyone on your doorstep, but I travel a lot, I’m away intentionally a third or half the year, just talking to people about shoes.

It’s a lot of work.

It’s partly because I care a lot—I really put a lot of effort in each issue, and want to make it interesting. I think, I hope, that anyone can pick it up, whether or not you think you love sneakers, or if you’re the most hardcore snearker guy in the world, you can pick it up and find something in there that’s thought-provoking.

In the early years, people would say, “I think you’re going to run out of things to talk about really soon.”

I was like, think about it like this: You could do a whole magazine about just basketball shoes, and there are. There’s running, there’s Runner’s World and those things. Then you have all the casual things, boots, artist collaborations, projects like this. The industry is just inherently creative and produces more and more stuff.
· Sneaker Freaker [Official Site]