Building A Collection From The Ground Up


Manuel Medina

Mr. Medina gives readers a sneak peak at his vast sneaker collection.

To others, it’s just a shoe, but to him it’s self-expression.

Mr. Manuel Medina has been teaching English at Mt. Carmel for five years but also holds a passion for collecting sneakers. The inspiration for this sneaker obsession came from the Chicago Bulls, more specifically Michael Jordan. As a kid, the first shoe that caught Mr. Medina’s eye was a pair of Nike Air Jordan 13s. Seeing these for the first time blew his mind, and watching the basketball games only heightened his love for sneakers.

Mr. Medina would get his first pair during his freshman year. “I didn’t grow up with Jordans,” he explains. “Eighth grade going into my freshman year of high school was when I got my first pair of actual [sneakers].”

His fantasy would become a reality when he got a hold of a pair of Fire Red 4’s from a Swap-O-Rama flea market. “They were probably fake or b-grade, having something wrong with the colors, but I wore those every day. I did not care. I felt like the man.”

The Fire Red 4’s were the first to start his collection with many more to come. Without the internet, as a kid, it made it really hard for Mr. Medina to find out what the next upcoming sneaker would be. Although this was a struggle, he still managed to look at blogs and also save money in order to purchase the newest sneakers.

The inspiration to collect sneakers comes from Mr. Medina’s grandfather, who recently passed away. His grandfather came from Mexico and grew up on a farm most of his life. He often worked in the field with holes in his shoes, and going through this rubbed off on him and turned him into a hoarder. “He would buy and collect shoes and we used to call him the centipede because he used to have all that kinda stuff,” says Mr. Media. “I feel connected to my grandfather in that way.”

When it comes to shoes, Mr. Medina doesn’t see them as merely glue and rubber–the meaning behind the shoe is what most stands out to him. A lot of the shoes Mr. Medina owns he puts value and meaning behind making them personal milestones.

A good place to start when collecting sneakers is putting thought into what appeals to the buyer. “Go with what you like, and go one step at a time,” says Mr. Medina. “When I started collecting shoes it was something I got joy out of. As long as you connect with it and feel that story, go for it.”

Two of the most prized sneakers Mr. Medina owns to this day are 2015 Chicago Jordan 1’s which he bought from a Footlocker and his Pirate Black 350’s that his wife got him for their wedding. As of now, Mr. Medina is still in pursuit of collecting the last four pairs of vintage Jordans to bring closure to that collection.

All in all, Mr. Medina sees collecting sneakers as a form of self-expression and art. They are the moments of his life–captured into a shoe, from seeing Michael Jordan as a kid, to himself now wearing the sneakers–that speak to him the most.