If the term “sneaker collector” brings to mind sniffling teenage boy hypebeasts, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised that what may arguably be the largest sneaker collection in the world – over 6,000 pairs –is managed by a trio of three sisters from Boca Raton, Florida whose online avatars are the Powerpuff Girls. Ariana, Dakota, and Dresden Peters took over the collection from their father, who began collecting in the mid-1980s. Their Instagram account has over 100k followers and fans fawn over their basketball court filled with rare sneakers. In the last forty years, the collection has ballooned to over 6,000 pairs, but who knows if that’s an accurate number – the sisters have stopped counting. FASHION spoke with Ariana, 24, and Dakota, 18, from the office of their family-run real estate company, on how sneakers can be a form of art, what it’s like to pursue such a male-dominated hobby, and what their future plans are for the collection.
So how did your dad get into collecting sneakers in the first place?
He started collecting out of a love of sports. He played basketball and wore sneakers as a fashion statement and it spiraled from there. Let’s say there was a pair of Air Force 1s he wanted to wear. He always bought a second pair to store. Then one shoe turned into a thousand. That’s how it goes with our dad usually.
How did he entice you to take over the collection?
Growing up surrounded by sneakers, you grow a love for it yourself. Each week there was a new sneaker. Now [collecting sneakers] is very prevalent but back then he was sort of a rarity. It wasn’t like that back then. There were sneakers all over our house. My dad had a sneaker room because there were so many pairs. It was always an art form to him. So it became a hobby for all of us.
How can sneakers be a form of art?
There’s a lot of history in sneakers. Just as someone would buy a coveted art piece, there are certain coveted sneakers, like the 1985 Air Jordan 1s. That was the first year the Jordans were released, they were really like a revolution to the brand Jordan and the brand Nike. In that sense it is an art form, it’s very expressive. Whether you’re storing the sneakers as a collection, it’s an art form, and also fashion is in and of itself an art form. At SneakerCon and these events we go to, everyone is expressing themselves in different ways. You look at someone and see their sense of self.
Can you give me a sense of what you do collect vs. what you don’t collect?
We specialize in rare examples, players editions, promos, samples. What we don’t buy is the hype stuff nowadays. For example, a Yeezy or the Pharrell Human Race Adidas. That’s what’s very popular now. They do a limited release and then the prices skyrocket, even though the box price is $250 or $200. We don’t buy into that stuff because it’s essentially a fake market. We don’t knock it. We appreciate the style. It’s very cool. But it’s not something we collect.
How much money is invested in the collection?
Well we stopped counting at 6,000 pairs. We don’t have an accurate number. But we don’t really look at it like that. We’ve had people offer us insurmountable amounts of money for our collection, but it’s something that we still haven’t explored.
So people have tried to buy the whole collection from you?
When we first started our Instagram account, within a few weeks we had one of the largest collectors reach out to us and immediately say ‘I would love to fly down and buy your whole collection.’ Because he saw we were three girls and he thought we didn’t really know what we have. We get hundreds of people each week writing us, ‘Can I buy this pair? Do you have this pair?’ We’ve never sold a pair and we’re not selling anything until we open up our store, where we’ll put the whole collection for sale.
I was curious if you would eventually donate the collection to a museum, or pass it on in your family. So tell me more about the store you’re going to be opening?
Our main goal is to be able to have a one stop shop where everything you could imagine involving a sneaker would be at our store. If you want to buy sneakers, if you want to clean your sneakers etc. We took our time and purchased a building across from our real estate office. We’re going to have a 24-hour livestream of the store because it is also a museum; there are so many sneakers there that people have never seen before. Also the design of the store is very important to us. We’ve seen so many sneaker stores, we couldn’t even name the amount…
Do you have a favourite sneaker in the collection?
We love our 1982 Air Force One collection because we have the largest collection of that specific shoe in the world. It has so much history. We have the Sex and the City x Nike Presto, which is really cool.
What’s your take on the designer sneakers – like these chunky Balenciaga ones – that have come out recently? Would you ever collect designer sneakers?
We love the designer sneakers, but does it really fit into what we collect? No. But do we love them and wear them? Yes. Streetwear is so cool. We love it when streetwear becomes high fashion.
What was behind the decision to start your own clothing line, CWK Supply?
We travel to a lot of the sneaker shows and the kids that come to these shows, they want to leave with something. Sometimes you can’t leave with a $700 pair of sneakers so we thought, ‘Why not make some cool t-shirts?” Also, every [sneaker show] booth we saw was run by men so we wanted to have our own booth and figured we should probably sell something. The last two shows, we were the only females to have a booth.
Why you think sneaker culture is so male-dominated?
We don’t really think about it because our real estate business is also male-dominated, so we’re sort of used to it. A lot of women do love sneakers, but they’re just not out in the open about it because it is known to be male-dominated. So many people came up to at the sneaker shows and said, ‘We’re so happy to see girls have their own booth.’ Even a mom told us she wanted her daughters to have a booth and this will make her not as scared because there’s other girls doing it.
Most people are probably shocked when they hear you have 6,000 pair of shoes. What drives you to keep collecting sneakers?
It’s a part of our family. Some families collect coins, cards, stamps. This is something we were brought up with so we have such a passion for it now. It’s become a part of our every day life, we’re creating content around sneakers, sharing our collection. It’s something we can’t imagine not doing.
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