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Paul Villena - Filipino Sneakerhead Interview


Hapsari Listya
January 10, 2023

Paul @paulvillena started his sneaker collection with Air Jordan 7 'Bordeaux' back in 2016. He wants to see a collaboration between Kaws and New Balance someday, as he's also a toy collector!

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

January 10, 2016, was that fateful day I entered the world of sneakerheads. I remember it as if it was just yesterday; I was ecstatically comparing Air Jordan 7 'Bordeaux' and Air Jordan 5 'Grapes.'

While doing so, I chanced upon the endearing and fascinating history of sneakers, from how they started as an industry to become a worldwide phenomenon known as the sneaker culture. I have been so invested in it that I went as far as the technicality and features of the shoes, the design aesthetics such as various silhouettes, and most of all, the valued history of each shoe.

I’ve finally decided that the first sneaker in my collection will be the Air Jordan 7 'Bordeaux,' but it wouldn’t be the last! As they say, the rest is history!

All images via @paulvillena

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

It has to be because of the man, the myth, the legend, and the GOAT himself… Michael Jordan!

He left such a huge imprint, well, in his case, a considerable footprint in sports, that we emulate his greatness through his shoes! I mean, do I need to say more? He's the GOAT!

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

As we slowly return to our “pre-pandemic ways,” I am currently rocking sneakers that aren’t just for sports but also casual use and even professional setup! Versatility is king!

I love sneakers that are stylish enough for work but still comfortable to wear, especially since my job requires a lot of mobility. These days, I frequently rock my Off-White Out Of Office in grey, New Balance 2002R 'Protection Pack - Mirage Grey', New Balance 550, and Adidas Yeezy 700 'Wave Runner.'

Sometimes, I throw in a little pair of Gucci slides for moments I want to be in the middle of casual and luxury… and mostly when I want to let my feet breathe!

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

I feel like a kid receiving a Christmas gift! Getting into my new pair of shoes is a mix of excitement, happiness, contentment, and a general feel-good feeling!

This aligns with the theory of “enclothed cognition,” where my shoes signify and describe me as a person. A person who values good design, such as patterns, colors, and the mad of the shoes.

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

Aside from sneaker culture, I also subscribe to the general “hype-beast culture.” And these days, sneaker culture is a subculture of it. And another subculture is designer toys.

Hence, it would be nice if there would be a collaboration between Kaws to represent the toy subculture and New Balance to represent the sneakerhead culture. I mean, a pair of sneakers would give a modern look without sacrificing comfort. That will be a holy grail for the community!

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

Ask any sneakerhead and they’ll answer the same… This is a tricky question!

The sneaker world is fortunate to have several talented designers and valuable brands catering to different types of sneakerheads. All are loyal and true to their fans!

But, as cliché and as the hype would be, my answer would be the late and great, Virgil Abloh. He’s the one who broke boundaries in the fashion industry by bringing the unlikely and even uncanny harmony of luxury and streetwear.

Another notable personality would be Yue Wu, the person behind New Balance’s newfound success in its Refined Future Pack.

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

As a holy grail, it is understandable that it’ll be challenging for me to acquire it. But my hope is still up. All eyes are for Air Jordan 1 High x Off-White 'Chicago.'

I want these to pair up my Air Jordan 1 High x Off-White 'UNC.' Today, its market value of it is so high. But who knows, maybe I’ll be worthy of being the owner of a sought-after sneaker!

What are some of your daily essentials or treasured items besides kicks?

As I mentioned, I am also into collecting toys, one type of which is 1/6th scale collectible figures of well-known superheroes. It evokes so much nostalgia, and its craftsmanship is simply impeccable!

Where can people find you on social media?

As a millennial, I am available on almost all of the social media platforms that are available out there. However, I still value my privacy, so most of it is for my family and friends. Nonetheless, the main platform for my sneaker and toy collection is Instagram.

I used it not only to curate a gallery of my collections but also to communicate and interact with my fellow and future collectors. So, if you are into shoes and toys, please follow me on Instagram; my IG account is @paulvillena. I also own a YouTube channel!

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