The term ‘hype’ often signifies the explosive excitement and attention surrounding a particular brand, product or phenomena, and with the help of social media and the World Wide Web, many of us are quick to experience brief, fleeting moments with the hottest viral trends, only to leave them in the cold a few seasons later.
However, for these two gentlemen, sneaker-phile Ashley Ong and vinyl record enthusiast Ethan Chu, their so-called ‘hype’ possessions are anything but superficial. Read on as both individuals shed light on their hobbies, their favourite items from their collection and their advice for fellow collectors.
The savvy sneaker-phile
31-year-old marketing associate Ashley Ong used to be teased by his friends for being an ‘octopus’ due to the sheer number of sneakers which he had amassed over the years. “I currently own over a hundred pairs, although I’ve lost count of the exact number after passing 50,” he admitted.
Even then, the sneaker-phile wasn’t fazed by the remarks of his peers and went on to co-found YBSG, a 23,000 member-strong sneaker community in Singapore where like-minded individuals are able to chat with one another about almost everything under the sun — from street culture and the hottest ‘hype’ products to their favourite and not-so-favourite sneakers.
“I enjoy collecting sneakers as I appreciate each of their colourways, silhouettes and designs. I’m also more interested in collecting sneakers that would gel well with my personal style rather than look at their resale value,” he shared. With his strong passion for sneakers, it’s easy to assume that Ashley purchases them on impulse. However, he prides himself in being a careful collector who lives by a ‘retail or nothing’ motto.
“Whenever I come across a design that I like, I would do my research and try my best to acquire them at retail value or I’ll give them a miss. There are simply too many new sneaker releases and it isn’t feasible for me to purchase every pair that I like. I’ll have to ‘eat grass’ for the next couple of weeks if that were the case!” he remarked candidly.
In terms of his top three picks, Ashley listed the Air Jordan 1 ‘Banned/Bred’(2016), Nike x Clot x Fragment Air Force 1 and Adidas Originals Yeezy Boost 350 in ‘Pirate Black v1’ (2015), and each of them holds a special memory that is near and dear to his heart.
He was thrilled to have acquired the Air Jordan 1s as he had ‘always wanted them since his secondary school days’. As for his Nikes, he intends to step into the next chapter of his life (marriage!) with them on. “My fianceé and I got each got ourselves a pair and we’ll be rocking them at our wedding,” he revealed. Finally, for his Yeezys, he still vividly remembers ‘experiencing chills’ when he realised that he had won the ‘live’ ballot for this highly coveted pair when it was first launched in 2015.
Having collected sneakers for more than half a decade now, Ashley believes that every aspiring sneakerhead ought to own a pair of Nike Air Force 1’s (AF1) due to its versatility. “It’s an evergreen pair that suits a variety of styles. You can also level up your AF1 game by giving your unique twist to it and opt for a customised pair.”
The voracious vinyl record collector
“Whenever I have the time to put a record on, I would take it as an opportunity to unwind, to dance and to indulge in a little ‘music therapy’. I reckon I love doing so as they tend to remind me of joyous memories,” shared Ethan Chu, a freelance creative director and fashion stylist from Malaysia who has over 160 vinyl records to his name.
Being the uber-cool style guru that he is (peep his Instagram profile and you’ll get our drift), Ethan entered the world of ‘old-school’ analog recordings and turntables due to his love for fashion. “My first record was [Jamaican model and singer] Grace Jones’s‘ ‘Nightclubbing’ album which I found at a local flea market. I didn’t have a record player at the time, but I admired her a lot and was intrigued by her strong sense of style. This purchase made me happy for weeks as I snagged it for only RM20 (~USD4),” recounted Ethan.
Beyond enjoying moments of relaxation with his ever-expanding music library, Ethan shared that the process of acquiring these records is just as meaningful for him: “I find joy in discovering unique items in the most unexpected places. I’m also the sort who lives for simple experiences. I like to trawl through different vinyl stores on a lazy afternoon and listen to old-timers teach me about different audio sound systems. Music is one of my favourite forms of self-expression.”
Speaking of self-expression, the top three vinyl records which Ethan has on repeat are just as colourful as his vibrant outlook on fashion. “I love ‘The Great Reunion’ by [jazz icons] Louis Armstrong and Duke Ellington as it never fails to cheer me up. There’s [English electronic music duo] Goldfrapp’s ‘Tales of Us’ too, which I bought during a trip to Japan,” Ethan revealed.
As for his final pick, it’s none other than the original movie soundtrack of the classic 2000 Hong Kong romantic drama film In The Mood For Love. “It makes you want to order a takeaway portion of wanton noodles and walk past [actor] Tony Leung,” Ethan added cheekily, citing an iconic scene from the movie.
Looking back at his prized possessions, Ethan hopes that fellow vinyl record collectors would practise more patience and shop at local vinyl stores rather than purchase them online. “These store owners tend to be passionate music lovers hence it’s important for us to support them. It might be easier and cheaper to shop for records online, but you will miss out on the joy of finding something that you love. When you’re travelling, I encourage you to make time for record hunting as well. Nothing beats bonding with strangers from all walks of life who share the same interest as you in music.”
What is your most prized possession?
Next, let's dive into fashion's knockoff culture.