Dubai: Meet the sneakerhead with over 500 pairs of shoes, some priced at Dh60,000

He owns a pair of Air Diors — one of the most coveted shoes in the market — and he is now building a separate home for his collection



by

Waheed Abbas

Published: Wed 21 Dec 2022, 2:07 PM

Last updated: Thu 22 Dec 2022, 4:03 PM

Sometimes, we start pursuing things without knowing it was a passion that has long been part of us. The story of Atul Hegde, a sneakerhead based in Dubai, is no different.

Hegde has a massive collection of well over 500 exclusive pairs from luxury and ultra-luxury brands such as Louis Vuitton, Gucci, Nike, and Adidas — with some of them now valued at Dh60,000 each.

“Sometimes, things creep up on you before you realise that you’re completely passionate about it. I started collecting more than a decade back with one pair and then two, or three. Over a period of time, you get more and more interested in it. It really started with me not knowing that it was a passion,” said Hegde, who is an investor and entrepreneur.

In the last 5 to 6 years especially, Hegde has spent a lot of time, effort, and, of course, money to really source unique pairs and build the collection, which crossed the 500 mark early last year.

Around 50 per cent of pairs were purchased from the US and the remaining were sourced from Dubai and India.

“I have an old Nike pair which is 20 years old but still as good as new. For those kinds of pairs, I had to go to the US where the culture has been around for four to five decades. With the explosion of social media, now I can connect with any sneakerhead on Instagram anywhere in the world. Most of my purchases happen on Instagram now, as there are a lot of small and big resellers from Singapore, the US, Dubai, etc.”

Hegde’s favourite brand is Yeezy for its comfort and design. He loves a lot of luxury stuff from Louis Vuitton and Nike, as well.

Here's a quick look at a part of his collection:

Dh60,000 pair

In the past, Hegde bought pairs for which he paid $300 to $400 (Dh1,100 to Dh1,500) and now they are valued at $5,000 to $6,000 (Dh18,400 to Dh22,000). “It is like a collection of art. But I am not looking to monetise my collection.”

He recently attended an invite-only event by Louis Vuitton and Nike for the launch of a major collection.

“This was a very exclusive collection and it goes anywhere between Dh50,000 and Dh60,000 in the resale market. I was lucky that I was invited by Louis Vuitton and I have three pairs of them. Each of them would be between Dh50,000 and Dh60,000 per pair in resale. Since it is an exclusive pair and it is invite-only, you can’t buy it even if you have the money.”

Valued at around Dh60,000, the Louis Vuitton Air Force 1s is the most expensive pair Hegde owns in his collection.

He also owns a pair of Air Diors, one of the most coveted pairs in the market. With just 8,000 pairs, each pair is numbered and usually comes with an asking price of about Dh40,000.

Hegde is not shy to reveal that he also bought economical pieces for Dh100 to Dh200. “If I like anything, I pick it up. It doesn’t matter whether it’s expensive or not.”

Home for his collection

Hegde, who has his collection in India, is building a separate home in Mumbai where sneakerheads can come and enjoy the collection.

“The home, where my collection will be displayed, will be ready in about three to four months. It will also be a meeting point where sneakerheads can interact.“

Hegde believes sharing is caring. “I have gifted a lot of my sneakers. Sometimes what happens is that I bought sneakers and didn’t wear them. So people wanted it for some occasion and I gift it to them. I’m a firm believer that if you have bought it you have to wear it, otherwise there is no fun.”

Sneakers community

Hegde’s love and passion for sneakers have reached a point it is more about connecting with people — about community.

He also attended Sole DXB, an annual footwear, music, art and lifestyle festival. A lot of sneakerheads from around the world had come for this event which was held in Dubai this month.

“The beauty of sneakers is that there is so much culture around it…Once you get deeper and deeper into it, you start understanding the stories behind each pair, and then it just pulls you in. The other thing is a community. When I started, the community was still in its early stages in this part of the world. In the US, it has been massive since the 1980s.”

No more counting

The sneakerhead says he stopped counting when his collection crossed 500 pairs.

“Now, it is really about if there is a great story behind the pair. Sometimes a rare pair might come to you in a month or sometimes in a year. It all depends on what is hot and what you don’t have in the collection.”

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