COLLECTOR’S CHOICE – ROTTERDAM’S WOEI TIJNCOLLECTOR’S CHOICE – ROTTERDAM’S WOEI TIJN

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Aus Sneakers Magazine Ausgabe 27.

Woei Tijn gehört zu den bekanntesten Gesichtern im europäischen Sneakerbizz. Doch seine Geschichte beginnt lange vor der Öffnung seines Ladens “WOEI – Patta’s et prêt-à-porter” im Jahr 2007. Er war Teil der europäischen Skateszene seit den späten 80er Jahren und hat seine Jugend daher vor allem in Airwalks, Puma Clydes, adidas Gazelles oder anderen typischen Skateschuhen dieser Ära verbracht. Später rückte der Fokus auf Sneaker, was auch diverse Reisen nach New York oder Asian nach sich zog. Als Teil der “Fret Click” Skate Crew war er dann in die gleichnamige Nike SB Collabo involviert, die 2005 releast wurde. Der Ruhm, der auf seinen Gel Lyte III “Cervidae” anlässlich des 5-jährigen Jubiläums seines Stores folgte, dürfte den meisten Lesern bekannt sein. Doch weil der Mann mit den vier Buchstaben noch viel mehr zu erzählen hat, folgt nun ein Interview mit ihm. In voller Länge gibt es das in Print Ausgabe 27, die seit Juli 2015 erhältlich ist.

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What strikes you as different when you compare the early sneaker days with today?
The difference is that back in the days there were no camp-outs [for releases]. That’s a hype that only began later. The first camp-out ever was when the Aix Max Amsterdams came out. That was my first camp out ever, and it took about two hours. Nowadays, reselling has become very important, which is a total change.

Did collecting ever get really super excessive where it would consume too much of your life/money/space?
Collecting never became too excessive for me. I was hooked and bought every Air Max I wanted. And I could, because I started selling them and making money. So that enabled ,me to buy my own collection. Back then, I used to live in a small 12-square-meter room at my grandfather’s house and really had no space to store my shoes. So I would put them everywhere. There were Nikes, beneath my bed, in the closet, on top of the closet, and in the living room. Just everywhere! My grandpa wasn’t happy with it, he always said: ”You have one pair of feet!” (laughs).

Great way to look at it! You also mentioned your frequent travels. Please share a sneaker-related traveling story.
Back in the days, New York used to be the Sneaker Mecca. I always went there to find special Nikes. I remember my second trip to NYC, where I bought 22 pairs, and put them in a big suitcase. When I ended up getting caught by New York customs, I played dumb and got through. Then I sold all of them all within 10 days. What a crazy business!

DSC_0460

All the online stuff is comparatively new. Where and how did you hunt down your stuff in the early days?
During the early days, NYC was a big way for me to get my hands on sneakers and get hook ups from there. Later, the Internet became the key and then Asia came and I got a lot from there back in the days. Later, I also started getting stuff off eBay.

What was the most amazing sneaker find when you were digging?
Almost every pair of Air Max 1s was an amazing sneaker find back in the days: Crepe’s Python, Curry USA, the grey ones, the Wings and the Waffles. Later on, all of the atmos pairs were amazing to find.

It sounds like the idea of opening up a shop came pretty natural with all the selling going on?
I was selling quite a lot back then and I was doing really well, so I could also build up my own collection. During that time, I was working at a skateboard shop. My interest in skateboarding was getting less and I began to focus more on selling sneakers. Since I did well at it, I started thinking, “Why not open my own store?“ So I started researching and wrote a business plan – that’s how it all started.

DSC_0503

Your store has been around since 2007, so you must have done a lot of things right! For the fifth anniversary, you had the opportunity to work with ASICS to create a collaboration in the Gel Lyte III silhouette. The ”Cervidae” came out in a pretty, outdoor/hunting inspired colorway. Why that choice? Any background story?
We had the chance to do a collab with Asics. I remember Asics talked to me about doing a collab, but then later Asics told me that there was a problem with Japan. I was bummed at first, but they came back with a green light. My team and I wanted to do something special. During that time, Visvim inspired me, and I wanted nice smooth leather, which had a bit of that Timberland feel. We added some hiking laces and the shoe was done.

Hundreds of people were lining up for the shoe, it was a great release. Some even travelled hundreds of kilometers to Rotterdam. Were you expecting the huge success of the Cervidae or has there been a moment when you were skeptical?
The release was crazy! We knew that it was going to be big but not that big.
There were like 250 people in front of my store and it took me five minutes to even get into the door. The biggest reward for us is that everybody loved the shoe.

DSC_0488

Great for your store, wasn’t it?
Of course! The release had a positive impact on the store. Due to the shoe, I got known worldwide. There was a campout in front of every store that got them. I even heard that people camped out at Kith in Brooklyn for two days.

Your taste is quite diverse – what are your favorites? Can you pick five faves for us?
It’s hard to pick favorites since I’ve been doing sneakers almost my entire life but I would say the Airwalk, Puma, AirMax, and Asics Gel at first and lately I’ve been into stuff like Footscapes, Magistas and Mercurials.

DSC_0511

You’ve been in this game for a long time. Is the current sneaker trend just a bubble or is it just huge and will stay that way for years to come?
My store has been around for eight years now, and it’s been strong the entire eight years. We never had problems – so this is not a bubble. I’m sure, that it’s going to stay.

Are there any developments that you dislike in the current scene?
Resell is big now. It seems like everybody buys to resell, but I guess it’s the current situation. I can’t change that. It’s like a new face of retail.

Online release or camping – what does the storeowner Woei prefer?
If it’s online, stuff will become available outside of Holland, but I would rather have it staying in Holland. But then again, resell changed it all.

DSC_0509

Your collection is amazing and we often see you selling at Crepe City or Sneakerness. What is the kind of stuff you would never sell?
About three years ago, I had so many shoes. So I was thinking to myself, “Am I going to wear them all? No!”. So I started selling my collection. I began by selling all the stuff I wouldn’t ever wear again and also all of my beaters. But I would never sell the stuff I got as a gift. The Albert Heijns, Made for Skate Blazer’s, my first Collab, Nike free clicks and my Air Max collection. I didn’t buy that much in 2014, so it’s hard to mention my favorite releases in the last two years. This year I’ve been liking the Huarache NM’s black (general release), Magistas, Mercurials, and Fujuwara tennis classics – the collab.

Which sneakers would you never wear?
I don’t wear Air Forces and I don’t like Jordans because I’ve got big feet. I dislike the Kanye hype shit and I hate Kangaroos. It’s just a bad company!

Your biggest inspiration in life?
I guess my life would not be the same as it is now if I hadn’t started skateboarding back in the day. Because that’s what lead me into sneakers.See Sneakers Mag 27 for the full length interview.

The name Woei Tijn rings many bells. Hailing from Rotterdam, the tall guy with Chinese origins has been part of the European skate scene since the late 1980s. After paying his dues in Airwalks, Puma Clydes, adidas Gazelles, and other typical skate shoes of the bygone era, he started becoming obsessively focused on sneakers. Woei started out with the eternal Dutch favorite – the Air Max – but quickly expanded his sneaker horizon, also by traveling extensively to New York and Asia while fulfilling the need and brightening up the Netherlands with new shoes. In the process, his hobby gradually became a business. As part of the ”Fret Click“ skate crew, Woei was later involved in one of the most underrated Nike SB collaborations – the white/gold Zoom FC released in 2005. Woei’s taste and experience in buying and selling sneakers ultimately led to the foundation of his own store in Rotterdam. WOEI – Patta’s et prêt-à-porter – opened its doors in 2007. For the 5th anniversary of the store, he got together with ASICS for the Gel Lyte III ”Cervidae“. The shoe’s blockbusting release, together with a memorable colorway cemented the fame of Rotterdam’s premium sneaker vendor. But this article is not a store check. We trust that you engage in some traveling of your own and go there yourself. We would much rather like to use these pages to shed some light on the great person behind the four letters. Here’s what we learned on our visit to Rotterdam.

DSC_0497

What strikes you as different when you compare the early sneaker days with today?
The difference is that back in the days there were no camp-outs [for releases]. That’s a hype that only began later. The first camp-out ever was when the Aix Max Amsterdams came out. That was my first camp out ever, and it took about two hours. Nowadays, reselling has become very important, which is a total change.

Did collecting ever get really super excessive where it would consume too much of your life/money/space?
Collecting never became too excessive for me. I was hooked and bought every Air Max I wanted. And I could, because I started selling them and making money. So that enabled ,me to buy my own collection. Back then, I used to live in a small 12-square-meter room at my grandfather’s house and really had no space to store my shoes. So I would put them everywhere. There were Nikes, beneath my bed, in the closet, on top of the closet, and in the living room. Just everywhere! My grandpa wasn’t happy with it, he always said: ”You have one pair of feet!” (laughs).

Great way to look at it! You also mentioned your frequent travels. Please share a sneaker-related traveling story.
Back in the days, New York used to be the Sneaker Mecca. I always went there to find special Nikes. I remember my second trip to NYC, where I bought 22 pairs, and put them in a big suitcase. When I ended up getting caught by New York customs, I played dumb and got through. Then I sold all of them all within 10 days. What a crazy business!

DSC_0460

All the online stuff is comparatively new. Where and how did you hunt down your stuff in the early days?
During the early days, NYC was a big way for me to get my hands on sneakers and get hook ups from there. Later, the Internet became the key and then Asia came and I got a lot from there back in the days. Later, I also started getting stuff off eBay.

What was the most amazing sneaker find when you were digging?
Almost every pair of Air Max 1s was an amazing sneaker find back in the days: Crepe’s Python, Curry USA, the grey ones, the Wings and the Waffles. Later on, all of the atmos pairs were amazing to find.

It sounds like the idea of opening up a shop came pretty natural with all the selling going on?
I was selling quite a lot back then and I was doing really well, so I could also build up my own collection. During that time, I was working at a skateboard shop. My interest in skateboarding was getting less and I began to focus more on selling sneakers. Since I did well at it, I started thinking, “Why not open my own store?“ So I started researching and wrote a business plan – that’s how it all started.

DSC_0503

Your store has been around since 2007, so you must have done a lot of things right! For the fifth anniversary, you had the opportunity to work with ASICS to create a collaboration in the Gel Lyte III silhouette. The ”Cervidae” came out in a pretty, outdoor/hunting inspired colorway. Why that choice? Any background story?
We had the chance to do a collab with Asics. I remember Asics talked to me about doing a collab, but then later Asics told me that there was a problem with Japan. I was bummed at first, but they came back with a green light. My team and I wanted to do something special. During that time, Visvim inspired me, and I wanted nice smooth leather, which had a bit of that Timberland feel. We added some hiking laces and the shoe was done.

Hundreds of people were lining up for the shoe, it was a great release. Some even travelled hundreds of kilometers to Rotterdam. Were you expecting the huge success of the Cervidae or has there been a moment when you were skeptical?
The release was crazy! We knew that it was going to be big but not that big.
There were like 250 people in front of my store and it took me five minutes to even get into the door. The biggest reward for us is that everybody loved the shoe.

DSC_0488

Great for your store, wasn’t it?
Of course! The release had a positive impact on the store. Due to the shoe, I got known worldwide. There was a campout in front of every store that got them. I even heard that people camped out at Kith in Brooklyn for two days.

Your taste is quite diverse – what are your favorites? Can you pick five faves for us?
It’s hard to pick favorites since I’ve been doing sneakers almost my entire life but I would say the Airwalk, Puma, AirMax, and Asics Gel at first and lately I’ve been into stuff like Footscapes, Magistas and Mercurials.

DSC_0511

You’ve been in this game for a long time. Is the current sneaker trend just a bubble or is it just huge and will stay that way for years to come?
My store has been around for eight years now, and it’s been strong the entire eight years. We never had problems – so this is not a bubble. I’m sure, that it’s going to stay.

Are there any developments that you dislike in the current scene?
Resell is big now. It seems like everybody buys to resell, but I guess it’s the current situation. I can’t change that. It’s like a new face of retail.

Online release or camping – what does the storeowner Woei prefer?
If it’s online, stuff will become available outside of Holland, but I would rather have it staying in Holland. But then again, resell changed it all.

DSC_0509

Your collection is amazing and we often see you selling at Crepe City or Sneakerness. What is the kind of stuff you would never sell?
About three years ago, I had so many shoes. So I was thinking to myself, “Am I going to wear them all? No!”. So I started selling my collection. I began by selling all the stuff I wouldn’t ever wear again and also all of my beaters. But I would never sell the stuff I got as a gift. The Albert Heijns, Made for Skate Blazer’s, my first Collab, Nike free clicks and my Air Max collection. I didn’t buy that much in 2014, so it’s hard to mention my favorite releases in the last two years. This year I’ve been liking the Huarache NM’s black (general release), Magistas, Mercurials, and Fujuwara tennis classics – the collab.

Which sneakers would you never wear?
I don’t wear Air Forces and I don’t like Jordans because I’ve got big feet. I dislike the Kanye hype shit and I hate Kangaroos. It’s just a bad company!

Your biggest inspiration in life?
I guess my life would not be the same as it is now if I hadn’t started skateboarding back in the day. Because that’s what lead me into sneakers.

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