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Australian Sneakerhead: Kevin Le

Interviews

Camille Lumogdang
July 3, 2022

Kevin Le @kevinhoangle is an Australian sneakerhead whose love for sneakers started from basketball. His current sneaker rotation including popular brands like Nike, New Balance, and Reebok.

What was the moment you first got drawn to sneakers, and which pair of sneakers triggered your passion?

My passion for sneakers started from the love of basketball culture; the motto has always been "look good, feel good, play good." I grew up getting two pairs of basketball shoes a year for occasions such as Christmas and Birthday. I would spend weeks researching the products before consideration. Geeking over the tech made me want to know more about EVERYTHING.

The first pair of shoes that started it all for me was the Nike Hyperdunk 2012, specifically the University Red / Game Royal colorway. I was 12 then, and my favorite player has always been Kyrie Irving. It was his second year in the league, and he was tearing it up while wearing these. I still remember the feelings I got every time I laced them up.

Also, a huge shout out to the OG's sneaker performance testers - Kick Genius and WearTesters, those were the good old days.

What’s one moment or trend in the history of sneaker culture that resonates with you?

Ah, this one is one I will remember forever. Back then, there was a Facebook group called Underground Society; it was incredible, full of like-minded enthusiasts of the sneaker and clothing culture. It was a platform where I met many people and learned much about the sneakers industry.

Back in 2014, I wanted a pair of Rick Owens DRKSHDW Ramones. I still remember considering investing in mainline, but I'm afraid it would be hard with my income source. I still in-vision the image I wanted to achieve back in the day with those Uniqlo Tee, crop pants with Ramones, and maybe some jewelry. I saved all my money from flipping candies at school to thrift clothes and umpiring basketball games to gather exactly AUD 442 for the Ramones on sale on Antonioli.

All images via @kevinhoangle

At the time, I was too young to have a Paypal account, so I reached out for someone who could proxy in the group. Luckily, there was a dude named Louis, who also lived in Adelaide. He was kind enough to offer a meetup, where I could give him the cash for him, place the order with his Paypal and ship it to my address, which all went smoothly and I got my shoes in the end. 

But it's something I would always go back and think about. It sounded exciting then, but for my own safety as a child, it wasn't a very sensible move to meet up with strangers and also let them know your address. Thankful he was a genuinely helpful dude and showed mad love to a young kid. But yeah, crazy to think it was the Rick Owens Ramones that really kick-started it all for me.

Please describe how it feels to you when you get and wear a new pair of kicks?

The feeling of purchasing a new pair of shoes is incredible, it's unmatched adrenaline, and as enthusiasts, we seek that.

I often buy used sneakers but well-taken care, so I don't sniff them out of the box. But when I get the chance to buy a new pair, the process of unboxing the item, sniffing the factory glue smell, and then replacing it is the best feeling in the world. It's something you can't describe; you just have to get a feel for it and live it up.

It has also been in my blood that, before getting my hand on a pair of shoes, I would have already envisioned 3-4 fits in my mind to go with it before considering pulling the trigger.

What are some of your favorite creators/designers or brands and why?

The first would be Shinichiro Nakamura, better known as Sk8thing. For the longest time, my Instagram username was klevempt - a combination of my name with the label Cav Empt. It was the brand that got me into collecting the pieces. It taught me patience and the art of digging to find the next gem on the list. I love everything about the label, from the way it fits, the graphics, the website, and of course, the mysterious ways of the designer himself.

The next is Hiroshi Fujiwara, the Godfather of Streetwear. He is simply the best, the ultimate tastemaker, the master of collaboration, the Goros King, and the best to do it. Streetwear wouldn't be where it's today if it wasn't for Hiroshi. I always take notes of Hiroshi's fits.

The third on my list is Kiko Kostadinov. It was 2016 when I discovered Kiko's work through a friend at DSM Ginza. His MA Fashion graduate show - 00012016, was the one that got me into all, and I've been hooked ever since. There's always a piece from Kiko on my hunting radar, especially his older pieces from 0002 and 0003.

My fourth favorite designer is Errolson Hugh. I had a stage where I would only invest my funds into Acronym, meaning maybe only two to four pieces a year if I could. It was the J1A-GT that made me fall in love with the label and kick-started it all. Sadly my pockets aren't deep enough to sustain the complete ACRMN aesthetic. I must move on, but the brand will forever have a soft spot in my heart.

Lastly, they were Larz Harry and Aida Kim, the founder of Man-tle from Perth. After seeing their stuff in person at INCU, I quickly joined the cult following of the label. Last year, 2021, I was fortunate enough to visit their brick-and-mortar store and had the chance to speak with one of the founders, Larz. I love everything about the label, which is always executed so flawlessly.

What is one sneaker collaboration that doesn’t exist, but you wish/think should exist?

My two favorite shoe models to ever exist are the Nike HTM2 Runboot Low TZ and Nike Tom Sachs Mars Yard 2.0.

I would love to see the HTM (Hiroshi Fujiwara, Tinker Hatfield, and Mark Parker) team collaborating with Tom Sachs himself on a shoe one day. I truly believe the outcome of that project would produce the craziest product. I'm a sucker for anything HTM, the same for Tom Sachs's design, so I wish this collaboration to become real one day.

What are some of the current pairs of sneakers in your rotation?

These are the shoes in my current rotation: Tom Sachs Mars Yard 2.0, Wtaps x New Balance 992, Kiko Kostadinov x Asics Gel Burz 1 "Black," Kanghyuk x Reebok Premier Road Modern, New Balance 990v3 "Grey," Beams Plus x Birkenstock Boston "Black Suede," and FW18 Visvim Christo "Grey".

What is your ultimate holy grail sneaker that you have not managed to acquire so far?

For the longest time, it was the Nike HTM2 Runboot TZ, which I'm thankful to say enough that I've managed to track down every colorway from the collection, even a couple of unicorn samples.

But here are the four pairs that I still wanted to acquire: New Balance x StudioFY7 992, 07 Rick Owens "Vans," Nike Tom Sachs Mars Yard 2.5, and Takahiro Miyashita TheSoloist x Undercover canvas sneaker (Jack Purcell like toe box, with the Soloist writing rather than the UC logo).

Other than kicks, what are some of your daily essentials or treasured items?

I really enjoy burning Kuumba incense while doing work, cleaning the house, etc. I like their scents as I find them therapeutic. Recently, I discovered Agaric Fly, which I believe came from Melbourne, Australia. I like all four of their current selections.

With that, I would like to link it to my treasured items. Neighborhood incense chambers, I've been a geek over these collectibles ever since I've seen some while visiting stores around the world. I am blessed to be able to have some in my own space.

My other treasured item would be my Visvim 20L Cordura backpack. I could confidently say it is the holy grail for a bag because it's durable, has fantastic hardware and useful compartments, and ages like fine wine. Though quite expensive, it's been a personal want for the longest time.

Lastly, I love the fragrance. The importance of hygiene and smelling good is as equally important to me as dressing well. A list of my fav would be from, Malin + Goetz, D.S. & Durga, Diptyque, Byredo and Le Labo.

Where can people find you on social media?

Instagram: kevinhoangle or kloretex

TikTok: Kloretex

Do you have a sneaker collection that you wish to showcase or share with the world? Or maybe you have some hyped deadstock that you wish to sell. Join Ox Street as an early community member in our beta stage today and get $25 SGD off your first order (while discount slots last).

An engineer who loves writing in her spare time.