The USA may be the sneakerhead cult’s spiritual homeland, but if you look hard enough you can find rabid shoe collectors in all corners of the globe. Case in point is Andrey Sablin, [email protected]: the Muscovite and former Navy man is Russia’s – and quite possibly the world’s – biggest collector of Saucony sneakers.
With over 200 pairs in his collection – including some so rare that the brand wants to buy them back – the Russian has amassed a treasure trove of shoes from the classic running brand that range from obscure Japanese models to doctor’s shoes and a collaboration with a fish restaurant (!). Oh, and he has a Saucony tattoo, too.
“I bought them first because they were comfortable,” Andrey told us through a translator. “Nobody collects them, they’re well designed and there’s no hype on them which I like. If you wrote Jordan on them they’d sell out!” Most of his collection was found online, although he has found rare models in Ukraine – a treasure trove for obscure deadstock oddities – as well.
Saucony enjoyed popularity with young Russians in the past because their sneakers were very cheap, although that’s changed since the ruble crashed – imported goods are almost double the price nowadays (which has had a huge effect on the way Russians dress).
We caught up with Andrey in Moscow to take a look at some of the most notable models from his vast collection – with a little help from FOTT‘s Leonid Sorokin and Kirill Astrakhantsev, who shot the kicks and translated for us.
Saucony Grid 8000
“In the world there’s only four pairs of these. The manager of Saucony asked me to sell them to him for €800 for their archive. I said no, so I just sent him a picture. It was two years ago, and on the basis of my photo they made some more. It was the first shoe to use air cushioning in the sole – way before the Air Max.”
Saucony Jazz 3000 (Sample)
“This was an old runner sample – the shoe was only available for three years, they didn’t want to make it after that.”
Saucony Hangtime (2007)
“They look like skate shoes, don’t they? They were for the Japanese market. I own six pairs! You could get them in ponyhair and camo, too. It’s called the Hangtime and in Europe and the USA you could get them as high-tops, but the lows were just in Japan.”
Saucony Phoenix (2001)
“This one looks vintage – it was from 2001, then reproduced last year. They tried to put this on the market but it didn’t really work.”
Saucomy Jazz Slip Slide
“These were made for the Japanese market…Saucony sometimes makes shoes for medical workers, I don’t know who it was made for exactly but you can see the special scratch-free nylon. I bought them for $20 from Japanese eBay.”
Saucony Shadow 5000 x Epitome “Righteous One” (2015)
“These are, I think, the most expensive Sauconys ever. It’s a collaboration with a fish restaurant! I just found it on the internet, the retail was about $150 but now it’s worth about $400.”
Saucony Courageous Collaboration Sample (2008)
“I got this for really cheap in Moscow. When you want to do a collaboration, Saucony Europe send you a raw sample so you can see how you can color it. This one wasn’t even used on a collab.”
Saucony Jazz x Anteater “Nature of the Beast” (2013)
“This is with a brand called St. Petersburg, Anteater. It’s their second collaboration, it’s dedicated to werewolf movies. I don’t know the material used exactly, but I call it Kiwi.”
Saucony Shadow 5000 x Solebox “Pink Devil” (2012)
Saucony Shadow 5000 x Solebox “Grey Devil” (2012)
“These two are a collaboration with Solebox – there’s Pink Devil and Grey Devil. They normally produce three different colorways when they do collaborations – because there’s three brothers work on Solebox, so each pair is made for each brother. This one was produced just in two colorways.”
Saucony Shadow 6000 x Bodega “Sweater Pack” (2014)
“It’s called the sweater pack because they’re made for winter – but not Russian winter!”
Saucony Shadow 6000 x Pick Your Shoes x BAIT “Blue Apple” (2012)
“I ordered it from Pickyourshoes – it was one of their first Saucony collaborations, the design was done by BAIT – who are owned by Pickyourshoes.”
Saucony x Solebox Jazz “Peanut Butter” (2008)
“There was only 200 of these made I think, back in 2010.”
Saucony x Bodega Courageous (2008)
“One of the first Bodega collaborations, the first time Saucony used ballistic nylon on the toebox.”
Saucony Shadow Luxury Pack Samples
“They’re samples for the Luxury pack, I think they called it Luxury because they tried to make them look fancy. They weren’t produced though – I don’t think they liked the colorways. I bought them from someone who works at Solebox.”