In our TASTE ISSUE of SNEAKERS, we head to Aberdeen, Scotland to talk to sneaker collector and photographer Thomas Lindie. Aside from capturing cityscapes and stunning scenes in the countryside on camera, he is also one of the UK sneaker scene’s leading tastemakers. Thomas works for Scottish footwear mainstays HANON and is one of the drivers behind the New Balance Gallery on Instagram. But why sneakers? And why New Balance? Here are some answers from Thomas himself – alongside some fire New Balance kicks, of course.
Everything you do circles around sneakers. Do you remember how it all started?
I don’t have a really cool sneaker story from when I was a kid or anything because I just wasn’t into sneakers then and wasn’t aware of it. My mum would just buy me any pair and I’d wear them into the ground, and then I’d get a new pair, it’s as simple as that.
So no spoiled childhood story for us …
Not really! I didn’t get properly into the sneaker scene until 2009 when I had just turned 17 and got my first part-time job and was actually earning some money. I worked with a guy called Kev who would always show up to work each shift wearing a different pair of sneakers. And naturally, you just get curious. And that was when I got introduced to the Crooked Tongues forum. At that point, it wasn’t a patch on what it once was, but it was still somewhere for me to go and learn about sneakers, and what this whole “scene” was all about. So I spent many hours on there, just reading, and trying to take it all in.
Then your first visit to HANON probably didn’t take very long?
Exactly. But I didn’t buy anything at first. I got more and more into sneakers, and Kev and myself would go down on Saturday mornings to queue for the latest release. But we could go down two hours before opening, and we’d be the first ones there, then by opening there’d only be around eight people in total. Everyone would get his size, no hassle, no drama, everyone knew each other – just nice and easy. And that was me hooked!
In England the sneaker scene has been driven by football/terrace culture for a long time. Is it the same in Scotland?
I definitely think it’s the same in Scotland. You go to the football; you want to wear your best gear when you’re there, so the football or terrace scene definitely plays a huge part in the sneaker scene. There are obviously differences between the two, but there’s more and more crossover now.
You’re also a co-owner of @newbalance_gallery, which is incredibly influential with over 330K followers. When and how did that start?
It’s been a bit of a whirlwind to be honest. The page was actually started by Rob Stewart back in January 2013, and he was posting on it quite regularly to begin with, but if you know Rob, then you’ll know he’s a very busy man. And at this time, I was a student in university and spent 99% of my time on my phone on social media anyway. So I basically got in touch with him and said that I was into New Balance, had very similar interests and that I would keep the page ticking over. And then he gave me the password and that was that!
You’re obviously a New Balance guy. Can you put into words what this brand means to you and why you’re so much into it?
I always find it quite hard to put into words what this brand means to me, and I always go back to the same story, so I apologize to anyone who has heard this before. Basically, a couple of years ago, I started a petition on behalf of NB Gallery and anyone who was remotely interested in NB, where I stated my problems with the shape of the UK Made product, and at that point, I thought this was the only way to be heard by NB.
Literally within a matter of hours of it going live, we had been contacted by NB UK and they wanted to talk it over with us. So in November of 2014, we made the journey to the Flimby Factory, and sat down with a bunch of people from NB, and they went through it from start to finish.
You also work for Hanon, which is obviously the focal point for the whole scene in Scotland. How did that relationship form?
HANON was the only spot where I could get the sneakers or apparel that I wanted in Aberdeen, so the relationship started off with me just being a normal customer, and as you know with specialist retailers and independents like HANON, you can spend ages in these kinds of stores just talking about sneakers and whatever else, and that’s exactly what I done. When I wasn’t at university, or had spare time, I would head down to the shop and hang out for a couple of hours, talking about what’s coming out at the weekend, and I just ended up becoming friends with the people who worked there. Most weekends that there was a release, I was down there trying to be first in the queue, meeting people, and making new friends, hooking people up from elsewhere, and trying to help the shop out when I could.
Then I graduated from university and struggled to get a job, and my friend David who was already working for HANON hit me up and said there might be something for me. Now, just over a year since I started working there, I try to do a bit of everything, but my main focuses are photography, social media, and marketing.
When it comes to hunting sneakers, do you still have a holy grail?
Definitely, and there’s more than one. Over the years, I’ve always been keeping an eye out for any past collaborations between HANON and New Balance. I’m still missing a couple of pairs from the set, such as the New Balance 576CHF “Chosen Few”, so I’d love to find those some day in my size to complete the set. The only other “holy grail” as such that stands out for me is the New Balance 670NPO x Wood Wood. Much like Norse Projects, Wood Wood are one of my favorite brands, and they knocked it out of the park when they collaborated with New Balance in 2007, but only 96 pairs were made.
Any plans for the future?
Right now I’m fully focused on HANON, that’s where I’m putting all of my energy currently, and we’ve got some really great projects coming up next year. Other than that, I’m hoping to pick up some more photography projects, and continue doing my current ones, such as Crepe City, where I’ve attended and photographed the last nine or so events. Also, shooting football boots for NB Football was a welcome change from sneakers, so maybe some more of my imagery will feature on their accounts again next year. There was also some talk this year of doing an even bigger NB Gallery exhibition to top the one that we done at SoleBloc in 2015, but the plans fell through so maybe we can make something happen next year.
What do you love most about your job?
The thing that I love most about my job is the simple fact that it just does not feel like work. I’m not waking up every morning and struggling to get out of bed because I don’t want to go to work. I’m doing something every day that I love, and I have a passion for, and to me, that’s the thing that matters the most.
Thanks for the interview, Thomas.