Singapore sneaker collector Dennis Lee first got into sneaker collecting through music. And while he owns sneakers of a variety of brands, these days, it’s Diadora that’s capturing his attention most. We take an exclusive look at his vault of kicks.
Photos by Andreas Krisanto
How many pairs of sneakers do you own?
I have more than 100 pairs, but no more than 200 pairs in total.
How long have you been in the sneaker game?
Back in 1991, I was into the whole bedroom DJ thing and started buying sneakers to rock. Little known fact: I used to play at Zouk sessions in 1996 and Phuture sessions in 2002. I was into the progressive house scene back then and my music preference took a darker and harder turn into Detroit and German techno. Early 90s was the birth of the house scene and I’m glad I was part of it. Shout-out to Clarence Soh, Marvin Kam, Cher Ng, Brendon P and DJ B. Anyway, I used to be a Jordan head. It was only in 2006 that I became serious about collecting kicks. Sneakers add to one’s vanity and it’s like an addiction; you want every other colorway and before you know it, the collection starts to grow.
What was the first pair of sneakers you bought?
My first pair of sneakers would be the Nike Air Force 1 “Boxer” which features ostrich leather. I bought it from Leftfoot at Far East Plaza, and Danial Mok was the staff member that sold it to me.
If you had to give your entire collection up, but were allowed to keep just one pair, which would it be?
It’s a difficult decision, but I think I’ll keep the adidas Ultra Boost. Those shoes are way too comfortable and breathable.
You’ve recently taken a keen interest in Diadora shoes. Tell us more.
I was pretty much a New Balance addict – I still am actually – till I got my first few pairs of Diadora N9000 collabs. The quality and comfort really impressed me, and I reckon that if I need to spend above S$300 for a pair of sneakers, I might as well get Diadoras that are made in Italy.
Which are the first few pairs of Diadoras that you got your hands on?
The first few pairs are the 24 Kilates x Diadora N9000 “Sol y Sombra” pack and Patta x Diadora N9000 “Italia”. I did not start collecting Diadoras from the very beginning, so I had to pay resale prices to catch up.
You also copped the LimitEDitions x Diadora N9000 “Castellers”. Why is this particular collab so talked about today?
This pair really got me worked up, trying to get my own and at the same time trying to help some homies. I was fortunate to pay a slightly good resale price as compared to recent prices on Klekt and eBay. The kangaroo leather and color palette that was used, along with the way that they placed the details, makes it very superior compared to other shoes.
Is your Diadora collection complete as of now?
Unfortunately, no. I’m still looking out for the Hanon x Diadora N9000 “Saturday Special”. Hit me up if you’ve got a pair in size US10!
What other brands are you into?
I love KangaROOS and Karhu, the old Nike Footscapes and of course, New Balance’s Made in USA models.
You also own a unique pair of Air Force 1s that we spotted…
This Air Force 1 was custom-made by my homie, Tony, better known as the veteran sneaker customizer “akalazy”. It’s a 1-of-1 Gucci-inspired design, using selvedge denim. My all-time favorite pair.
You’ve been in the sneaker scene for years, what’s the scene in Singapore like now compared to the way it was before?
The sneaker scene here is moving too fast. Every brand wants a piece of the pie, with weekly drops and restocks. Just look at how hyped the Yeezys are in this year alone.
Looking back on 2015, which release has been the best in your opinion?
That’s hard to say. The Diadora collabs, ASICS Tiger 25th anniversary GEL-LYTE IIIs, and SBTG’s latest collab for the GEL-LYTE V have all been remarkable.
Which sneakers are you looking forward to in 2016?
I think 2016 will be the year for the adidas Ultra Boost to really shine. We’ll likely see more collabs for the ASICS Tiger GEL-RESPECTOR, Diadora N9000, and Karhu.
You always wear your sneakers out, yet they still look so pristine. How do you care for them?
After each wear, I will air them on the shoe rack for a day or two before cleaning the midsole. Then, I’ll air them for another day before I put them back in the box.
Having been in the sneaker scene for close to a decade, what advice would you give to aspiring sneakerheads?
Buy what you wear and don’t try too hard to resell. I always say this to the people I know. My motto is that if it doesn’t make me a millionaire, I will not resell because it’s too much work.
Follow Dennis on Instagram to see what else he has in his collection!