Jim Malloy started off collecting sneakers the same way most people do: his dad bought them for him when he was a kid.
"I still get the same feeling, the same excitement, when I get a pair now as I did when I was 14," Malloy says.
These days, Malloy has downsized his collection to about 200 pairs of sneakers due to a recent move. He's not a sneakerhead though, he's just a guy who likes to collect and wear shoes.
See also: Kickin' It with Jim Malloy
"There's a lot of hating going on in the sneaker community these days," Malloy says. "There's a lot of negativity about the word 'sneakerhead.' Guys my age like to hate on the kids and call them 'hypebeasts,' but really we were all exactly like the kids now. People should just stop hating on each other."
For Malloy, it really isn't even just about having the rarest or the most expensive shoes. It's about the bonds he's made with people all over the world through collecting kicks.
"If you got enough money, you can buy anything. For me, I think it's more about the people than the sneakers," Malloy says. "In the pre-Internet days, you actually had to be friends with guys in the sneaker community. Social media has really changed it, but it makes it easier to connect with other people you never would've otherwise known. I have friends all over who I never would've met if it wasn't for sneakers."
Social media isn't the only change that Malloy has seen in his decades of collecting sneakers. Since the turn of the millennium, Malloy has watched the sneaker scene expand beyond the world of Nike and Jordan, with brands like Asics, New Balance, Saucony, and Adidas offering up shoes worthy of a collection as well.
"These days, there are a lot of sneaker collectors who don't collect Jordans at all. I'd say there's at least as many people who don't have any Jordans in their collection as who only collect Jordans," Malloy says. "That's only within the last 15 years or so. Ronnie (Fieg, a sneaker designer who owns a premium sneaker boutique in NYC) has really revitalized Asics in America and made them viable lifestyle shoes. It's guys like him who we owe credit to for changing sneakers."
Even with the other brands making a push to be more competitive, Nike and Jordan still dominate the sneaker market. While it's a fact of life for most members of the sneaker community, Malloy sees it from more of a business perspective.
"The quality on a lot of the releases isn't consistent, but the marketing and the strategy and timing of the releases is really what's been perfected," Malloy says. "(Jordan Brand) could charge $400-500 for hyped shoes if they wanted to, but they don't. I wish they would have more variety in their releases, but you really can't argue with the numbers and market share."
While Malloy's collection contains a wide variety of sneakers, there's one model that remains his favorite.
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"I think the [Nike] Air Max 90 is pretty flawless," Malloy says. "As far as design, comfort, fit, it's all there. Every iteration has been really well done. You can't say that for a lot of them."
As far as what sneaker he doesn't own that would be at the top of his list to pick up, Malloy believes that his target is the same as many others.
"If the Mags [Marty McFly's pair of Nikes from Back to the Future 2] ever drop, that's the one. It'll be me and everyone else," Malloy says. "That's one that has no practical application, but everyone wants it."