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Dalong Ye-Lee - New Zealand DJ Interview


Hapsari Listya
December 26, 2022

Dalong @itsdeepsleep has been collecting sneakers since ten years ago and is a big fan of Hiroshi Fujiwara. He has made significant shifts over the past decade to live sustainably, and he only supports small/local, or ethical brands nowadays.

Could you share a bit about your secret origin story? (Tell us a bit about yourself, how did you start loving sneakers, what you do/hobbies etc.)

Hey team, thanks for having me.

My name is Dalong Ye-Lee, I'm a Mechanical Engineer, Freelance Photographer and Electronic Music Producer/DJ based in Auckland, New Zealand. I have been following and collecting sneakers for ten years now and I've also been obsessed with cars for most of my life. I always liked shoes growing up, but wasn't 'passionate' about them just yet. My first proper sneakers were Pumas- Holden HSV Drift Cats and then Ferrari Trionfos.

I ran a lot in school and discovered the Nike Free Run in 2008, at the time I thought they were the coolest shoes ever. I started skateboarding a lot and saved up to buy my first pair of Element Carnegies. Through my school years, I only ever wore one pair at a time and thought of them as just an item of clothing.

This changed very quickly towards the end of high school. It was the peak of the days of Tumblr, where we built friendships with people all across the world, reblogging and sharing each other's posts. This platform became my first real exposure to modern culture, fashion, and creative arts.

Apart from being what inspired me to start photography, I can pinpoint back to one particular moment at the end of 2011, where I came across a photo of these incredibly photographed sneakers I'd never seen before. They looked like boat shoes and were really classy, yet they had the casualness of a pair of skate shoes. I had to find out what they were.

The Nike Zoom SB Stefan Janoski.

In a world where skate shoes were only known to be thick and chunky, Stefan Janoski for the first time created a low-profile, minimal and clean skate shoe. I finally copped the SB Blue Box Teal/Abyss colourway (shoutout to Club-Bird) in 2012. After working a summer job and starting university, more blue and brown box SB Janoski colourways started coming in and the sneaker addiction exploded from there.

A decade later I’ve been immersed in Nike, Jordan, Adidas, Asics, Puma, Reebok, New Balance, Saucony, and Diadora and I can say sneakers have become one of the biggest passions of my life.

All images via @itsdeepsleep

I heard you are a photographer and music producer. Could you tell us more about it? Feel free to share photos of your work!

I work in construction, infrastructure and sustainability as a mechanical engineer during the week, and as a freelance professional photographer on nights and weekends. I write, produce, and DJ whenever there is time. Musically I sit across multiple genres but make sounds primarily in Neo-Soul, Future Bass, Hip Hop and Trap. In photography, I shoot music, product, fashion and automotive imagery. Links are at the bottom of this page!

What's your current favorite pair of sneakers?

Nike x Sacai x Fragment Sacai LDWaffle Blue Void/White.

What drew you to this particular pair of sneakers?

I’m a big fan of Hiroshi Fujiwara - his creative eye and design styling in his products and collaborations are unmatched. In particular, he has consistently used Nike’s Obsidian (Blue) in his colour palette. This is my favourite swatch in Nike’s colour library; anything coloured Obsidian or close in hue looks insanely good.

I checked all over the internet almost weekly to follow the release. When the shoes were starting to drop, I entered over 40 raffles worldwide and was somehow incredibly lucky to have won one overseas. Thank you Zac for receiving and sending these over.

What’s your personal sneaker collecting philosophy?

Wear whatever you desire, not what people around you perceive as being desirable. Sometimes the best shoes and garments are worth nothing in resell. Choose whatever genuinely invigorates excitement in you, and what you can see yourself still liking in ten years. Own your stuff for the long haul and take care of it.

Remember hype is only a passing phase, people’s tastes and attitudes towards styles will change and fade. Resell prices can fluctuate and go up, but (for the most part) will also go down too. Don’t be that person who rushes into a purchase paying peak market prices, that’s hustling yourself.

The shoes will always be there, be patient and wait it out. If you can wait and still want a pair even after hype dies, it’s proof to yourself that you truly wanted the pair. And you get to save some money for the life you’re living too.

I have made big shifts over the past decade to live as sustainably as possible, to reduce my carbon and consumption footprint. I only support small/local or ethical brands nowadays for clothing and will trace supply chains of items purchased as far as I can. My collecting is slowing down.

Ironically as I type this, I have one vice…. Can you guess what that is? Sneakers. Damn sneakers. An unbreakable passion that is more than just wearing stuff on your feet. It’s a culture, it’s a life. Though the big brands we know and love are doing better ethically and sustainably than they were a few years ago, they still have a long way to go. To have more transparent materials and supply chains, cut out greenwash and make proper efforts to strive towards reducing wastage in manufacture.

This sounds very hypocritical, but I believe that it’s more complex than living in a black and white world, where if you care about the planet you have to then hate sneakers. There is a balance to be had, and a positive impact that we and the sneaker industry can make. The people who have the most powerful voices to drive change here are those who are amongst the culture and industry.

Us. As sneakerheads, we all have a responsibility to push for accountability from brands. We can vote with our wallets, and have many more conversations around where our products are from and how they are made. Support those brands who lead the way with actual sustainable innovation backed by science, not ones that will just claim to recycle everything if you drop your old stuff in a bin (because they really don’t).

Check @theairvegan, @futurevvorld, @goodonyou_app, and @future__dust for some inspiring advocacy and educational resources on sustainable/ethical fashion!

Your dream hype sneaker you wish to acquire but don't have so far.

Adidas x Parley For The Oceans 1/50 (2016). The Alexander Taylor Studio designed sneakers made from recovered ocean plastic and ghost fishing nets in the pacific ocean. This shoe was what started the Adidas x Parley line, and wasn’t available for purchase, only won.

Daniel Arsham x Adidas Futurecraft 4D “Future”. I have the “Past” and “Present” pairs which sat on shelves, but the 4Ds vanished online in seconds.

What's your day-to-day style like?

Sneakers and tops first - I wear a lot of colour and prints. These are the centrepieces and the rest of the outfit follows as a mix of with versatile whites, blacks, creams and greys. I like slightly larger, more flowy outerwear and winter is the best season for fits because of layering. Natural materials such as cotton, linen and wool are my go-to’s, and I avoid synthetic materials due to microplastic shedding.

Where can people find you on social media?

Instagram: @itsdeepsleep

Website: https://www.freshandchips.com (Relaunching Soon!)

Mixcloud: https://www.mixcloud.com/deepsleepmusic/

Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/deepsleep_music

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/artist/4jzQqIPFKudQWp1kMs2Obe?si=z7Oh3wLITIe54PtODXkuiQ

An ailurophile who loves bake cookies and listen to indie music!