With old trainers being auctioned for almost half a million dollars, it’s not surprising that ‘sneakerheads’ like Bangkok regular Tareq Q are collecting rare Nike sport shoes in their hundreds
Probably costing less than US$10 when new, this now fairly dilapidated pair of sneakers represents a spectacular investment – and may explain why collecting trainers is such a popular hobby and a lucrative hedge against inflation.
Check out Tareq Q, a self-proclaimed “sneakerhead” from Kuwait who has the biggest sneaker collection in the Middle East.
Bangkok regular Tareq has been building his collection from the age of 12 with a pair of Stealth black Air Jordan 5s, which he bought at the World of Sports store in Singapore and wore until the soles fell off.
Today, he has over 800 pairs of different sneakers stacked high in “the vault” of his home in Kuwait as well as in his family’s London apartment. A few also reside here in Thailand.
To his more than 130,000 followers on Instagram, he’s known as @kickstq and until recently kept his name, age and background a secret. His face was always kept strategically covered in promotional photos to add to the myster
Thanks to his massive online presence, Tareq has collaborated with some of the world’s best known brands including Adidas, D&G, Lacoste, le coq sportif, Levi’s, Lexus, Puma, Reebok, Valentino and, of course, Nike. And there’s no doubt he’s played a part in helping to shape the rapidly changing streetwear fashion and urban culture in the Middle East.
He’s even designed his own capsule collection for an LA-based brand called Entity, which features his “favorite go-to outfit”— a white denim jacket, a black tee, black denim and a black baseball cap.
The BigChilli recently sat down with Tareq, who is married to this magazine’s Managing Director Angie Hastings and is a frequent visitor to Thailand, to talk about his sneaker collection.
What prompted your initial interest in sneakers?
Getting into basketball prompted my initial interest in sneakers. Michael Jordan was my favourite player growing up. I idolised him and always wanted to own a pair of his signature shoes every time they were released. I’ve never met him but watched him play live in the 1993 NBA finals. I also got the chance to watch him speak at a Nike event in 2019.
How old were you when you owned your very first pair of sneakers? Do you still have them, or other very early ones?
I must have been seven when I first bought a pair of Reebok Pumps. I had my first pair of Air Jordans when I was nine. I unfortunately don’t have any of them anymore.
What inspired you to start a sneaker collection?
Each shoe usually has its own unique story and my love for storytelling added to my urge to keep collecting. Now being a collector is part of my story.
At the peak, how many pairs did you own?
A little over 800 pairs.
Tell us about the really rare sneakers, and how much they’re worth. And do you ever dare to wear them outside?
I have a pair of very rare Louis Vuitton x Kanye West sneakers that are worth around $15K USD. I’ve worn them twice.
Do you have an original pair of Nike Moon shoes?
What’s your total sneaker collection worth?
Possibly in the hundreds of thousands. Not too sure.
Your favorites….and why
My favourites would be the Air Jordan 1 ‘Breds’- the first Air Jordan signature shoe that debuted in 1985. The NBA fined Jordan because the color on the shoe did not match regulation colors assigned to his team. Nike decided to pay the fine and the rest is history…
Are sneakers manufactured to higher standards today than in the past? Or not?
Unfortunately not, with the exception of a lot of the limited models that are released. I believe the ability to mass produce today plays a part in the drop of quality.
Some people keep their shoes in plastic zip locked bags to avoid yellowing. There are a lot of cleaning products specifically made for sneakers that prevent them from getting dirty as well.
You must be an expert on sneakers in terms of shape, comfort, design and manufacture….and price. Are they worth it?
I believe they are. It really depends on the brand most of the time.
Which country produces the ‘best’ sneakers, now and in the past?
Italy usually has the best sneakers in terms of quality material and craftsmanship. Their attention to detail is also great.
Anybody got a bigger collection of sneakers? Have you met them?
Yes, plenty! I’ve had the chance to meet quite a few people who have a bigger collection than I do.
Any such thing as an international sneaker congress?
Yes, they have a few. There is one called Complexcon that I’ve attended a few times.
Have you ever been invited to give a speech / talk on sneakers?
Yes, I was lucky enough to speak on a few panels for Nike and Farfetch.
Tell us about the sponsors you attracted because of the collection, and what was expected of you.
Most of the sponsors who approach me rely on my ability to create content for them in the most creative way possible.
Any nicknames for sneaker collectors like yourself?
Many people call me “Kicks”. “Kicks” is another word for sneakers.
Tell us a few things we probably don’t know about yourself and sneakers.
Not a lot of people know that I don’t mind getting my sneakers dirty. Wear your shoes!
What are you eventually going to do with all your sneakers? Give them to a museum?
I hope my son grows up to have the same shoe size as I do! If not, then building a shoe museum would be a great idea.
Please tell us about your new interests in life
I have set up a creative agency based in Kuwait called ‘Out of the Box’ (OTB) consisting of an international network of artists, photographers, videographers, designers, and musicians; all who are among a group of several other creatives with different disciplines.
OTB’s main currency is our ideas along with the content creation to accompany them. Whether we are in the forefront of the campaign or behind the scenes, companies and institutions have trusted us not only for our unique sense of creative direction but also for our universal message – Social Justice through Art and Creativity.
Inspired by going against the idea of society keeping you in a box to conform, OTB has been able to attract likeminded individuals who have come together as a community and spread positivity all through their own individual stories.
In the past, my IG account was heavily focused on fashion and sneakers. Much of my content has changed and now I am more focused on the art world, creating awareness about social injustice, particularly Palestine.