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Community March 17, 2013   |  by

Straat Your Stuff: Interview with Mike Neo

Our very first Straat Your Stuff sneaker collector, Mike Neo, is OG as OG gets. He got into the Air Jordan collecting game thanks to his love for basketball and Michael Jordan. We invade his home for a sneak peek.

By Kim Hana
Photos by Marc Tan

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How many pairs of shoes do you own?
I have no idea how many pairs of shoes I currently own but I’m pretty sure I have 200 pairs at least.

How long have you been in “The Sneaker Game”, i.e., collecting?
I started playing basketball and my first pair of shoes was the L.A. Lights Galactica III back in 1994. Back then, I didn’t consider myself a collector. Just a kid trying to look better on court to make up for my lack of skills for the game.

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Mike’s collection comprising mostly deadstock sneakers are stashed neatly in his bedroom. He admits he cleaned it up a little for our photo shoot

When did you begin to feel more than an average affection for sneakers?
It was probably in 1999/2000 when I realized that I was always going to sportswear stores at Queensway Shopping Centre to check out their newly arrived basketball shoes. The annoyed looks on the store owners faces was also a sign that I was visiting their stores too often but not buying anything much.

So what was the very first pair of sneakers you bought?
The first pair of sneakers which I bought with my own money was the 2003 Air Jordan 12 Retro (Black/Varsity Red) when I worked part time during the holidays and got them from Leftfoot at Far East Plaza.

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The numbers “91” and “96” representing 1991 and 1996 – the years Michael Jordan achieved three-peat championship wins

Which were the shoes that got you into sneaker collecting?
Definitely the Air Jordan. My love for sneakers grew when I first got my Jordan 13 “Playoff” 1997 – I was literally swept away by the details of the shoe. But it was only in 1998 when Michael Jordan hit the final shot against the Utah Jazz in Game 6 1998 NBA Finals and won the championship that I realized I was in deep trouble. The images of all the shoes MJ wore on court were literally running through my mind every single moment. 

Which is the most expensive pair in your collection?
Jordan Defining Moment Pack which was released on January 28th, 2006. I paid SGD1137 and had them shipped from New York. 

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The Defining Moment Pack, which cost Mike more than a whopping SGD1,000, is the most expensive pair in his collection to date

Why the Air Jordan?
It is the shoe of the best player to ever play the game. His will and determination to win translates into his dominance on court. When you see him play, you simply can’t help but to keep looking at the shoes on his feet.

What are your thoughts on Singapore’s sneaker buying and collecting scene?
I think I’m lucky to be in Singapore as there isn’t a high demand for sneakers yet. We don’t always see people camping out for sneakers.

Where do you usually go to acquire your sneakers?
Most of my purchases in recent years were from Limited Edt.

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Mike is constantly tinkering with new tools – a camera dry box not withstanding – to find new and better ways to care for his sneakers

How do you care for and store your collection?
I keep the brand new pairs in my bedroom, air-conditioning them 24/7 with silica gel all around the shelves.

What are some fond memories you have from collecting?
I remember I was really bad at basketball. My mum took me to Queensway Shopping Centre and asked the staff for the best basketball shoe and the guy recommended the Air Jordan 12 “Playoff”, which was worn by the greatest player. My mum always wanted me to have the best in everything so she got them for me – a mother’s love for her son. 

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Part of Nike’s appeal has always been its marketing and packaging so can you really blame Mike for finding its fresh Original Waffles so irresistible?

Where do you intend to go from here?
I certainly hope for more exciting releases from the Jordan brand especially the retro range. Meanwhile, I need to find more space in my bedroom for the sneakers.

Fill in the blanks. “My friends look at my collection and they…”
… say that I need a proper bedroom. Gotta stop sleeping in a storeroom full of shoes. 

You can find Mike on Facebook and Instagram