Ashley J. is a 20 year-old junior at The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. When she’s not hitting the books for her Kinesiology/Pre-Physical Therapy major, she’s steadily building up her impressive sneaker collection. From classic Jordans to one of the most highly sought out LeBrons, Ashley doesn’t disappoint even for the most seasoned curator. Continue reading to find out which sneaker she favors, ones you’d never see her at a party with and the pros and cons of being a collector.

UPC: When did you fall in love with the sneaker culture?

Ashley: Around the 6th grade. I was really into basketball when I was younger, so I had a subscription to SLAM magazine and I would always look at the shoes that the players would wear and the different shoe features they would do in each issue. I was also a huge fan of SLAM’s KICKS magazine, those were definitely my favorites back then and what sparked my interest in sneakers.

UPC: How big is your collection?

Ashley: As of right now I own 73 pairs of sneakers.

UPC: Which pair has the best story behind them?

Ashley: I would have to say my ’01 Jordan Retro 1 Royals because they were a steal. I found them this past summer on KREME, a Chicago sneaker page on Facebook, for $50. The shoe was in decent condition, completely wearable, they just needed to be cleaned thoroughly and have a lace swap.

UPC: If you had to choose, which sneakers are your favorite out of your collection?

Ashley: I’m going to have to go with my Galaxy LeBron 9’s, I fell in love with those the minute I saw them. I would have to say those are the shoes I wear the most also. My second favorite are my Bred Retro 1’s, even though they recently released, I had been dying to get my hands on a pair for a while and I finally got a chance to buy a pair a month ago when they dropped in December. My third favorite pair are my White Aqua Retro 8’s because I accidentally stumbled on these one day in a shoe store on the South Side of Chicago, four years after they released in 2007. They were sitting on the sale rack for $70, so those were a must have for me.


UPC: What’s the best & worst part of being a collector?

Ashley: The best part about being a collector is the actual collecting aspect of buying shoes. I believe that a persons collection is a way of expressing themselves and it speaks volumes about you. Your sneakers express who you are, the type of styles you’re interested in and more. The worst part about being a collector is the hype that surrounds sneakers nowadays. The hype has created hectic and sad situations in the last couple years. The results of these situations have led to stores taking different approaches to selling certain sneakers, such as: implementing a raffle system, online RSVP system, or having people put down payments on shoes and forcing them to pay above retail so that they’re guaranteed a size on release day. This is all the result of hype. To sum it up, you have to jump through so many hoops just to get a pair of sneakers.

UPC: What are your holy grail sneakers (the most coveted sneaker that you don’t possess)?

Ashley: The Nike South Beach LeBron 8’s. I absolutely love that shoe and it’s color. If I could have any shoe right now that would be the pair I’d go for.

UPC: While walking to class, which pairs have gotten you the most attention?

Ashley: My Galaxy Lebron 9’s and Red Retro 2’s from the 2010 Jordan Candy Pack. I always seem to get a compliment from someone whenever I wear either pair.

UPC: Which pair would you never wear to a party?

Ashley: I would never wear my “He Got Game” Retro 13’s to a party, I think I would freak out if I got those slightly dirty. I went through so much to get those shoes so I’d never put them at risk of getting messed up.

UPC: What are the best sneakers you’ve seen on campus, outside of your own?

Ashley: Hands down, a pair of Toro Retro 5’s from the Raging Bull Retro 5 Pack.

Follow Ashley on Instagram to keep up with her ever-growing collection. Photography by Robert M. If you’d like to be featured or would like to recommend someone, please feel free to reach out to us.