The fact that sneakers are no longer the footwear just your older brother and streetwise male friends go ape for is hardly a secret by now. In Singapore, collecting kicks have become increasingly mainstream. Presumably to meet demand and interest, more and more sneaker shops have popped up on our shores in the recent: JD Sports, Foot Locker, AW Lab and Seek now accompany OG purveyor Limited Edt, with Dover Street Market Singapore giving us our very own NikeLab. We’ve also seen local sneaker convention Sole Superior grow to stage its sixth and biggest edition yet just last month (as Street Superior), and Culture Cartel — another convention spotlighting sneakers amidst a focus on art, fashion and tattoos — will be taking place for the first time next weekend.

As part of the young generation that live, breathe and cop the latest releases (quite a feat given that the sneaker business churns out drops on the daily), Hanya Seah (@hanyaseah) knows her kicks inside out — telling us which collabs and launches her shoes are from plus how she got them, as we photographed her. Seah has also amassed over 30 pairs since she’s started collecting, something she chalks up to sneakers being comfortable yet versatile footwear.

But just because the marketing executive and part-time jeweller is a girl, don’t expect her shoe closet to be filled with pastel tones and cutesy collabs. Her edit ranges Air Jordan 1s, Nike Air Maxes and the occasional Riccardo Tisci for NikeLab pair, fitting right in with her boyish, on the pulse style. You’ll catch her anchoring second-hand scores like a loose-fit Bape trousers picked up on a trip to Japan with Nike’s 2018 reissue of the Air Max 98 Gundam, but also in outfits that are right on trend such as an oversized jacket with cycling shorts. Case in point, below.



Seah’s shorts are from Lululemon. She pairs it with an oversized jacket from Taobao, and anchors the outfit with a pop of animal print by way of Nike Air Max 1 Atmos sneakers.

Describe your sense of style.

It’s a mix of mainstream, tomboy and ’90s-’00s inspired. My outfits are mostly paired with sneakers of course.

Who are your fashion influences?

Mostly random people on Instagram, but I take the most inspiration from Aleali May.

Why do you collect sneakers, and how did you get started?

I enjoy having a variety of silhouettes and colourways to pair with my outfits. Sometimes the shoe itself is a work of art; worthy of keeping. I started when I realised my first pairs (adidas Originals x Barneys’ Stan Smith and NikeLab x Riccardo Tisci AF1 Low Beige) were comfortable and versatile at the same time.

It’s not just sneakers Seah loves — she also enjoys collectibles such as the Doraemon x Takashi Murakami for Uniqlo plush toy, and a Takashi Murakami x Complexcon skateboard deck (left). Right: NikeLab x Riccardo Tisci AF1 Knee Hi and Low Beige. The latter, one of her first pairs of sneakers.

How do you use sneakers as a medium of self-expression?

Sneakers aren’t just about comfort today. You take interest in a pair because something about it speaks to you. Its sports heritage, story, ambassador, creator, technicality, exclusivity, design, colour, brand — you appreciate the attributes of that sneaker, and wearing it reflects your interests and what you want others to recognise you for.

When getting dressed, do you pick your sneakers or clothing first?

Clothing first most of the time, because it’s easier for me.

Any tips to share on copping the hyped drops?

Follow all sneaker retailers on social media to get first hand news on their drops. Camp for as many site releases and join all online raffles.

L-R: Air Jordan 1 Retro Black Toe, Nike Air Max 97 OG Silver Bullet, Air Jordan 1 Retro Bred “Banned”, Nike Air Max 98 Gundam and Air Jordan 1 Retro High Satin Shattered

What about some style tips for women who find the chunkier sneakers hard to style?

I think chunky sneakers work best when contrasted with a glam or tailored outfit, lightweight fabrics or sweeping baggy pants. 

What is the greatest length you’ve gone to for a pair of sneakers, and which is your most prized pair?

Definitely finding a seller on Instagram (because StockX and other re-selling platforms didn’t exist back then) for the NikeLab x Riccardo Tisci AF1 Low Beige in size 5. My most prized pair? Aleali May’s Air Jordan 1.

L-R: Kaws Passing Through Open Edition Vinyl Figure Grey and Air Jordan 1 Retro High Aleali May Shadow

Sneakers going mainstream have altered our perception of fashion today. For example, Off-White Nike Air Jordan 1s are as much a style statement and a grail, as an It bag. How do you think this shift has impacted style?

I think we’ve witnessed an evolution of style both in streetwear and high fashion domains. Sneakers are now a new way to make a statement, as opposed to just bags or watches. You see luxury brands focusing more on sneakers in their seasonal collections.

Where do you usually purchase your sneakers?

I get almost all of my sneakers online. European sneaker e-tailers are my go-to places, and most frequent wins come from DSM London and Mr Porter.

Hanya wears a Pomelo top and vintage A Bathing Ape trousers she picked up at a second-hand store in Japan. Above: Kaws x Uniqlo UT x Sesame Street plush toys.

Which is the most recent pair you’ve bought and can’t wait to stunt?

Converse x Brain Dead Chuck Taylors.

How many pairs of sneakers do you have in total?

30+ pairs, including both grails and beaters.

L-R: Air Max 95 Atmos and Air Max 1 Atmos, both Nike

Photography Vee Chin