Hi! My name is Mark Williams. I live in a small town called Heathfield. Me and my wife are childminders and we run our own business. Got two kids, a daughter aged 13 and a son aged 8.
Tell us about your childhood and what it was like growing up in your city.
I grew up in South London but moved to a tiny village in the south-east called Hurst Green when I was quite young. It was a bit of a culture shock for me, going from a massive school to a tiny village and everyone used to laugh at my accent. Luckily the era that I grew up in was the golden era for trainers so even though it was in the middle of nowhere, when you went to school everyone was wearing the new kicks and brands.
How did your love for sneakers begin? At what stage did you say to yourself I am going to start collecting kicks?
My love for sneakers started when I was on a holiday at the age of about 12. I went into a local sports shop and saw a pair of Ellesse Maurice Cheeks basketball shoes and fell in love with them. That pretty much started the (basket)ball rolling. However, I never started collecting them until recently. I used to get bored of trainers and used to swap them with my mates. If only I had kept what I had, I would’ve had some classics in my collection.
What made you embrace variety? You were big into skate shoes at one point. How did the transition into runners happen for you?
I was really into basketball shoes in the beginning and loved the Cons ERX Adidas Artillery Mids and Reebok Battleground Blacktop Pumps. After that, I got into skateboarding and my taste in sneakers changed. I loved the whole bulky skate trainer era but then they started to slim down with cup-soles and less technical designs which ironically are better to skate in, but I just found them boring. So, I got back to runners. Even though I still wear my basketball sneakers, runners continue to be my mainstay.
How would you define the general style shift around you in your own city, on the streets?
As I mentioned growing up in a tiny village you’d think seeing new styles and brands would be a bit hard to come by, but Brighton was not too far away, and a place called Hastings had a shop called re-al sports which was run by a couple from London who brought down the latest styles. The place was packed with Troop, British Knights and SPX. Upstairs was all the latest trainers and the smell walking up the stairs was as exciting as actually seeing what was new. I also used to buy a magazine called Hip-Hop Connection to see what people were rocking. I have always tried to be a bit different in my style and a lot of times it failed. But if you don’t try, you’d never know – like wearing jeans that were 3 Sizes too big. Style is something you feel comfortable with, not something that someone tells you it is.
Which brands in your opinion are doing a great job with the new and old demographic alike?
The brand that I think is doing a good job with the old and new at the moment is Nike. They seem to be tapping into their vast catalog and releasing some very good retro versions. I am not the biggest Nike fan, but they seem to be listening to people and what they want to see.
With even apparel being released as “exclusive” or limited edition pieces and people hoarding that stuff, is the term ‘smart consumer’ a thing of the past?
Smart Consumer is a thing of the past. We are bombarded with influencers, celebrities and traditional media telling us what to wear, how to wear it and why wear it. People buy stuff now just so nobody else can have it and getting bragging rights over other people. Even if they don’t want the actual shoe, they don’t mind showing off their 3 pairs. People’s ability to think for themselves has been removed.
What are the sneaker and apparel media outlets doing wrong in your opinion?
The media does not help either. You only have to look at sneaker media to see that they have become advertising tools for big brands. The so-called obscure brands don’t even get a look unless they are connected to a collab or a celebrity has been spotted wearing them. Don’t get me wrong though because the scene is very much alive and kicking with some absolute awesome releases. You just have to dig deeper to find them.
What are some brands that you suggest people should really try?
Some brands that people should try are Sneep for the quality alone, ARC Originals and Le Coq Sportif. I would also include Hummel in there because the Marathona is an awesome model and all of their releases are very high in quality.
What are your top 5 shoes from your collection?
Beastin x Reebok Omni Lite Quiet Storm
Overkill x Hummel Marathona
Le Coq Sportif x Kicks Lab R1000 Road Trippin
Reebok x Extra Butter Ventilator Street Meat
C1rca Lopez 805
A pair I was always after but eluded me was the Mastermind Japan x Reebok Omni Lite . The skull and crossbones on the pump were awesome.
A big thanks to the Instagram sneaker community for being so awesome and sharing. I’ve made a lot of good friends on here who have put up with my moaning. I truly am the man who shouts at clouds. Also, big thanks to my family for being so awesome and understanding (sometimes).
The best part about interviewing this generation of sneaker lovers is how straightforward and non-sugarcoated their responses are. They say it like they see it, something that I feel is immensely lacking today. Mark still wears everything in his collection and it can be attributed to his influences, no matter how many times they may have swayed over the years. To me, he is the true definition of a sneakerhead not because he has the most number of kicks but because he wears what he has, knows his stuff well, does not feel the need to compete in the rat race or force his opinion on what anyone should wear. He is also super helpful to fellow sneaker lovers. I thank him for finding the time to do this interview despite an emergency situation in a close friend’s family.
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