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size?collections: Richie Roxas - New Balance Collector
For our first ?collections installment of 2024, we kick things off by heading across the pond to Philadelphia where we catch up with avid enthusiast Richie Roxas. We were lucky enough to get an inside look into Richie’s New Balance archive, which he started 28 years ago. He believes there to be around 600 pairs in the collection, although he stopped counting at the 450 mark. Today, we get to see the inner workings of his dedication and learn how it all began.
New Balance is a big deal in Philly, with the trend starting southwards in DC and Baltimore in the 1980s, and by the ‘90s the brand was a staple on the streets. Richie tells us that “the staple silhouette today has got to be the 990”. If you’re traveling around North and South West Philly, you’re probably going to spot a few head-to-toe New Balance outfits walking about. Complete with 990s.
So, what was it that first ignited this long-standing passion? Sneakers and music run in separate worlds, however, there is certainly a thread that connects the two. With a deep love for music, Richie would find himself at punk and hip-hop shows back in the early 90s. Here, he would be scoping out what influential artists and rappers would be wearing, along with other attendees of the gigs. It was here he first heard the siren’s call of New Balance. We’re all guilty of wanting to mimic the style of our favourite artists from our youth, right?
One thing about New Balance that makes the brand unique for Richie is “how the collections change as you travel around the world”. The brand has often tailored its offerings to different territories with colourways or models exclusive to different regions globally, which as an enthusiast, makes the hunt a lot more interesting. Having traveled around Europe, the UK, and Japan, Richie has picked up some local iterations that aren’t available at home. The perfect excuse for taking a hobby on the road.
Richie states his vast collection is “evenly split between vintage and modern wearable pairs.” Although his focus is on finding archival silhouettes, he can’t help but buy into what's new with the exciting colourways and shapes on offer - and we don’t blame him. Considering himself somewhat of a New Balance archivist, Richie loves to find exclusives and pairs he didn’t know existed by flicking through old catalogues and seeing what’s out there. Together with other collectors, they can fill in the pieces and tell the New Balance story from their own perspective.
When it comes to choosing a favourite pair of New Balance, how do you even begin? A firm favourite for Richie is the 1300, which he states “is the perfect blend of chunky and sharp, plus they come in the evergreen colourways that go with everything” - coming from someone with 600 pairs, we will take that. The 496 also holds a place in his heart, this model acted as a sort of ‘gateway’ shoe to his collection coming in at only $40 when he was first starting out.
Another stand-out model for Richie is the 1600, which at one point was the most expensive running shoe out there when it was first released in ‘94. This NB classic was packed with cutting-edge technology, whilst keeping a premium aesthetic of full-grain leather and attention to detail in its design - we might even call this one elite. The last honourable mention goes to the MT580, a popular shoe coming out of Japan in the early 2000s. This silhouette holds a chunky trail shape with classic NB DNA running throughout the design. With plenty of materials to play with, this shape has been a popular one for collaboration.
If you want to see more from size?collections, you can satisfy that itch right here.