Daniel Simões is an hardcore New Balance-head.
We virtually traveled to Brazil and had a talk with Daniel. As a New-Balance-Head, he brings his ideas and opinions together in this interview. After all, it is always a pleasure to speak to a friend about a topic we both feel interested by.
On this interview there will be sharing about different perspectives from other sneaker-cultures and (hold on tight!) Daniel’s pairs will knock you down. He even saved a very special pair of New Balance 1500 just for this interview which is his latest pick up and his number-one pair at the moment.
The pictures you will see are taken by him and his girlfriend. For last but not least, have a read and enjoy!
Hey there, Daniel. Thanks for being with us. Can you tell us a bit about yourself and how this all started for you?
Hi there, and thank you for the invitation. I am a 30 years old Portuguese emigrant, I’ve been living in Brazil for the past 4/5 years and I work as a Strategic Projects Manager. Just like many of those who are reading, I am a sneaker enthusiast and one thing I love the most is going out with my beautiful girlfriend and have fun taking pictures of what I’m rocking on feet.
I guess each one of us has a couple of episodes during childhood that later on are regarded as the beginning of our passion for sneakers. For me it was in the early 90s when my father showed me his new pair of Reeboks with the Pump system, followed by a pair of LA Gear with red motion lights in the heel that he had bought me somewhere in Asia when he was traveling.
That was the first time I felt special simply by using a pair of sneakers that was different from what I was used to see at school. Back when I was a kid I knew that each pair of sneakers my parents bought me would have to last until there was no life left in them, and only then my parents would buy me new ones, so choosing my next pair of sneakers was always a big deal for me.
I went through different phases, and it was only in 2007, when I bought my first pair of AM 90’s that I found my passion for retro runners. Later in 2009, I went to live in The Netherlands and that truly was the moment my eyes opened to the whole sneaker collecting-thing.
For the first time I had my own money and an easy access to models and colorways that were far from being available in Portugal, so from that moment onwards I started reading and studying the whole subject, taking better care of my sneakers and adding more pairs to my rotation.
Lets kick it off with some fire together with the most classic question. What is your top 3 pairs in your collection? And what’s your top 3 that you still don’t have?
The top 3 pairs that I own are also my longest hunts until this day. Took me several years to add each of them to my collection but all three were worth the wait and have a nice story of how I got them.
- Crooked Tongues x New Balance M1500BFR “Confederation of Villainy – Black Beard” (2006)
- Atmos x Air Max 1 B ‘Viotech’ (2003)
- Provider x New Balance M1500WBB (2008)
As I began to get more into the “sneaker culture”, my focus started narrow down to 2 or 3 brands, and clearly New Balance is the brand that came on top, so it’s not a big surprise that my most wanted pairs are NBs. I have never seen any of them personally, but who knows, maybe one day I’ll have that chance.
- Solebox x Crooked Tongues x New Balance M1500BB “Bread and Butter” (2005)
- Limited Edt. X New Balance M577BBL (2008)
- Wood Wood x New Balance M670NPO (2007)
Is there any model / brand that you own, or not, that does not get enough credit for? Is there any reason behind that?
I’m not going to talk about specific brands as I probably wouldn’t be the best person to do it, but since you also asked about models, I have to mention a silhouette that truly doesn’t receive the appreciation it should from retro runner lovers.
I have always had a soft spot for the Nike Air Max Light model and I just can’t understand why people tend to overlook it. I’ve even seen Air Max timelines in which Nike forgets to mention the AM Light. The silhouette itself is a pure beauty and it includes tons of innovations – my favorites being the thermoplastic straps and the combination of PU and Phylon to build the midsole.
The original shape is really aggressive, just the way I like it, and the different panels and elements on the shoe allow for a high degree of creativity when defining new colorways.
After JD Sports brought the Lights back to life in 2007 I thought they would be a hit, but the reality is that it was mostly Size? who showed interest in playing around with this model, and it was never enough to match the success of other AM silhouettes like the 90s or the 1s, which had some major international stores collaborating and creating successful and iconic releases.
How’s the Brazilian sneaker culture?
The Brazilian sneaker culture is going through a very nice moment. When I got here in 2013 I didn’t even know there was a sneakerhead scene in Brazil, but I’ve come to learn that it is as big as in any other country, and it grew exponentially in the past few years. There is a nice selection of local stores/boutiques that have managed to consistently bring some of the most wanted releases, and new kids show up in the scene almost by the day.
Brazil has several amazing and diversified sneaker collectors (some of them I really look up to) and from what I was told, back in the days it was not uncommon to see some special editions and limited releases floating around, even though they would come to Brazil almost unnoticed or without any hype attached.
The true awareness for buying and collecting limited editions and collaborations (I’m obviously not counting all the Air Jordan releases or the previous amazing collaborations SneakersBR did with Nike and Diadora) was raised in 2012 with the release of the Air Yeezy 2 and the first big campout in the Brazilian sneaker culture.
I know friends who stood in line for 7 days to cop their pair, and from what I understand that was the moment the whole culture started to get to a broader public. Again in 2014, Brazil had another important mark when Ronnie Fieg came to Brazil with a pop up store to release his KFE collection for the World Cup, and from 2014 onwards the scene grew at a very fast pace.
The culture itself is made by the people in it. You have collectors that range from teenagers to mid-40s dads, all coming from different social levels, you have hypebeasts, you have the purists and conservatives. You also have the trend setters and progressives, those who are just into Jordans, you have others who buy a bit of everything.
Now you also have a reselling game that is growing by the day and has become a viable way of making a living, you have different blogs and medias showing up, so as you can see, the whole scene is diverse and dynamic, and it doesn’t look like it will stop growing any time soon.
Being an immigrant across the Atlantic, what are the main differences you can tell us about it when comparing to Europe?
There are several differences between being a sneaker enthusiast in Europe and in Brazil, but I’ll focus in 3 points that for me are more visible. First of all, the historical and economical context must be taken into account. The European market achieved a high maturity level way before Brazil did and that translates directly into the availability of different models from different brands.
Even though most of the big players have made their way into the Brazilian market, there are several not so big brands (ex. Diadora, Saucony, Le Coq Sportif) that you won’t find at Brazilian local stores, at least not with a significant presence in the lifestyle segment.
This brings us to the second big difference, which is the difficulty of importing from other countries when you can’t find them in the national market. Within the European Union the shipping is cheap and you don’t have to deal with import duties so it is quite easy to get most of the releases you want either from online stores or individual sellers.
In Brazil you have to be financially prepared to be able to import sneakers. Due to heavy exchange rates, imported goods in foreign currency are extremely expensive, and on top of that, there’s a common 60% duty tax on any imported pair above 50 dollars. This gives you an idea of how much someone has to pay to buy a pair from abroad.
Finally, the third difference concerns the type of sneakers people like and use. Europe is known for its connection with retro runners, and even though the Brazilian preference is changing towards other directions, when you look at the general public, you can still feel the importance of sneakers with a lot of visible technology (ex. Nike Shox, Adidas Springblade) and extravagant colorways.
Within the sneaker community, basketball shoes (mostly Air Jordans) are still the favorites, but I would say that the yeezy fever is catching up pretty quick (this one is a worldwide trend).
What brand do you think that is keeping up with the “wants” of people? On the other hand, any brand that is lacking ideas and just goes under the radar?
I was going to say that I am loving the work New Balance has been doing in the past couple of years, but my friends would say that I’m obviously taking sides ahahah. Instead, I will say that I am very impressed with the work Adidas has been doing in the most recent years. Even though they can’t match Nike’s presence, I do believe that Adidas is setting the pace right now.
They have managed to keep many of their classic lines in production, and at the same time they’re coming up with super interesting performance innovations and applying them perfectly in the lifestyle segment. Parallel to all this, the adidas Yeezys were clearly a successful hit, and of course Kanye West knows how to make the most out of this trend.
As for a brand lacking ideas, I would say that I’ve been pretty bored with Asics after the Gel Lyte III 25th Anniversary celebration. They seemed to be at max power, and then since 2016, other than a couple of nice releases, I haven’t seen much that really caught my eye.
Is there any pair that you stock and don’t rock?
I don’t own any DS pair at the moment. Everything that I bought has already been worn. I’m not going to say that I wear them all the same way, of course not, I’m a lot more cautious when I’m using any of my top pairs. At this moment, the only pair that I own and I probably won’t be able to use is the Viotechs. I got them deadstock from a very good friend of mine here in Brazil, and the first time I put them on I had this feeling that the bubble was going to crack. Those are a piece of art that I don’t dare to destroy until I’m 100% sure that I can do a perfect sole swap.
Any last words?
We know we left your mouth watering. Have a further look at some pairs that are part of Daniel’s rotation.