An interview with New Balance fan and collector Richie Roxas
Skateboarding and baggy jeans, a fascination about adidas and Puma and a dedication for New Balance. Richie Roxas way in the sneaker world is all that, and much more.
Going back to being a teen when he understood that his relationship with sneakers was way beyond buying and wearing a pair. Since then, Richie (also known as @newbalance365 on Instagram) has become an avid New Balance collector, passionate about old school shops, and vintage models.
We talked with Richie about his story, some essential NB models, favorite sneakers of 2014 and more. Read the interview below.
Who is newbalance365?
My name is Richie Roxas and I live in Philadelphia, USA. @newbalance365 is my IG account which showcases my NB collection, as well my other sneakers. I also show other random things, such as NB related news or tidbits, or anything else I feel like putting up.
When and where did the dedication and passion for sneakers begin?
It’s hard to say when exactly, I was really into skateboarding as a teenager in the early 90’s… I spent a lot of my teenage years skating at Love Park and the Philadelphia/ New Jersey area…skate shoes get trashed pretty easily and you are constantly buying skate shoes…
They started to pile up in my closet and I guess, that was my first “collection”…a little later, I was influenced by Zoo York, Supreme, DLX, Droors, Menace, etc…
The style was baggy jeans or cargos, with crewneck sweatshirts, fitted baseball hats… I saw these professional skaters, who were my heroes; wearing Adidas, Pumas, and Converse, instead of Airwalk, Etnies, and Vans… I started to buy these shoes instead of skate shoes. I was buying and collecting every brand…
Me and a friend would go into the gym locker room at school and break into other kid’s lockers and steal their Nike’s… Sometimes we would go into a shoe store and try on a pair of new shoes, we would put the beat-up shoes that we were wearing inside the box, and put the lid back on, and then walk out of the store wearing the new kicks… or we would take a pair of kicks in the dressing room and stuff them inside your winter coat, and just leave the empty box behind…
We were hooked on kicks by that point.
We know you have a kind of a special thing for New Balance, can you explain that please?
I guess at some point I started to focus on New Balance… I felt that they had the best comfort. I also kind of liked that they were sort of the “underdog” brand and were mostly known to be worn by old men runner type guys… that appealed to me for some reason.
I also liked that the big fat N logo on the side was so “in your face” and it seemed bolder to me than the swoosh logo or the three stripes. I bought my first pair of New Balance in 1995. It was the 496 model.
I just got a job at the local movie theatre for minimum wage and the 496 was $40 retail at the time… Currently, I have about 350-400 pairs of sneakers (I stopped counting a while ago)…I think 200-250 of those are New Balance.
Can you point out the main differences between then (when you start collecting) and now?
The two biggest differences are the presence of eBay and internet shopping, and the closing of mom n pop/ independent athletic stores. It’s sad to see all of these mom n pop athletic stores that have been around for decades, closing down.
It’s really a culture all on its own, and I wish it was documented more… there’s a certain magic in dusty stockrooms from another era, in the middle of some small town, in the middle of nowhere…
I wish someone along the way I took photos or made a documentary on these places and interviewed the owners. As each year passes by, more and more small stores close down and time is running out…Soon it will be all big company chain stores and fancy boutiques.
Please share with us about two or three of the most important models of your collection?
Ummm… This is hard to narrow it down to 3 pairs, but I’ll choose the vintage 1300 (made in Korea), the vintage 1001, and the mt575:
The 1300 is a well known and popular shoe for NB…it is the perfect sneaker, to me… sleek yet chunky, sporty yet casual, and comfortable and durable. The made in Korea version is pretty rare, and they have the hard plastic heel cap, long-lasting Vibram sole and the coolest part is the plastic last loop by the heel.
I have two pairs of this navy version; I know there is also a grey version and a burgundy version, though I’ve never seen them in person. I’m not sure if there are any other colors besides these three.
The 1001, is a strange vintage model. It seems like a trail runner and has a roll bar sole. Purple is my favorite color, and this pair has lush purple suede. The N logo on the side is this plastic-y material. The 1001 was reissued a few years back, but those versions were mostly terrible with ugly colors and nothing like the original
The mt575 is a modern shoe, and also a trail runner. It first appeared in 2003 in Japan only. I love these earlier versions, even though they have a slight banana shape.
The tongue tag logo is amazing and the plastic lace loops are so cool. It also has the same sole unit as the 1001, which I just mentioned. Another version came out in the UK around 2006, and those versions have better shape and a thicker, more comfortable tongue, however, they got rid of the plastic lace loops.
There are also some Asian made versions from the late 2000’s that are pretty horrible…bad colors and bad quality. I’ve also just noticed two new colorways, which just dropped this month actually, though I have yet to see them in person.
What about 2014? Can you easily name three of the most important releases this year?
My favorites are the mt580 X Capsule Toronto denim with a gum sole, the 496 reissue, and the CT300 reissue:
I’ve had my eye on the Capsule collab for quite awhile, and it seemed to get almost no hype, which is good for me…I thought it would be an easy purchase, but no…
The week before the release date, it was on every IG account and blog out there, and all of a sudden, everybody wanted a pair. I was still able to get my pair, but it was tricky.
I am a sucker for anything with a gum sole and denim sneakers, though it seems that most people don’t like denim sneakers.
As I said earlier, the 496 was my first NB, so I have a soft spot for it. When I found out they were re-released earlier this year for the first time in over a decade, I was pretty excited.
The new ones have kind of a bad shape at the toe, but I’m still happy to see it in various colorways. It’s a chunky shoe but has a classic NB look and the retail price is still relatively affordable.
The CT300 is not everybody’s cup of tea, but I’m a big fan of simple, casual, tennis styled shoes and this NB is right up my alleys. I can throw these on with almost any outfit and just run errands or walk around the city. And I don’t feel bad if they get dirty either.
Do you still feel the same kick when you get a new pair as in the beginning?
There’s something different about going into a store, having a clerk go into the back room and bring out a pair from the stock room and lace them up for you and then trying on various sizes to find the perfect fit.
It’s not the same as clicking on the internet and waiting at home for a box to get to your door from the mailman…that “new shoe smell” is still the same though.
How far have you traveled to grab a new pair of sneakers?
I’ve traveled a lot for vacation or work, and I manage to squeeze time in to go shoe hunting. Trips up to NYC to buy kicks are easy since NYC is only 1.5 hours away from Philly.
I’ve bought shoes in many cities all over the world, but I wouldn’t say that is the main reason for my travel. Manila is probably the farthest place from home that I’ve visited and bought shoes from.
I really miss Classickicks and Clientele up in NYC… I wish those shops survived. I went to the NB factory in Northern UK in 2006 and that was one of the best trips of my life… and the NB outlets up there are awesome.
I really miss the old NB outlet in Boston…the current one is good, but the old location in the 90’s was like NB heaven.
What are your thoughts about collaborations? Do you believe it’s just a way for brands to keep up the interest?
I like collabs. Unfortunately, most of them are ugly or done with bad taste. But there are some good ones, for sure. I wish I made more money to be able to afford all of the collabs that I want, but I have to be choosy, as they are expensive.
I miss the older days when only a few collabs would come out per year, and the production numbers were more limited, and it was easier to get a pair. Now there are several collabs that come out every month or week, and they are insane prices, and hard to get.
I think it is important for brands to do collabs in order to stay in business and grow a following.
Finally, do you believe that you can of course better judge a man by his shoes?
The only thing I can judge is whether the person has good taste or bad taste in shoes, but no, I cannot tell anything of his character, or personality, or demeanor.
Image credits: Manny Dominguez