People and Places

Sneakerhead Christopher Ward on his collection of beautiful kicks

When Christopher Ward was 12, he saved money from his job at a tennis club to buy a pair of First Generation Nike Shox for $293.78. It was the first indication that young Ward would grow up to be what is now known as a sneakerhead.

These days, Ward, 31, keeps his collection in an outbuilding next to his North Gower home. There, along with vintage posters and triathlon mementoes, stand three racks holding over 100 sneakers.

Photo by Ben Welland

His fascination for sneakers is tied to his family, which includes a former competitive marathoner and a sponsored skateboarder. Ward ran cross-country at St. Lawrence College and is an accomplished triathlete. He even met his wife on the tennis court. Now, he’s a personal trainer and a manager with the Carleton women’s varsity hockey team.

Much like other groups, sneaker culture has subcategories. Sneakerheads — those who collect, trade, and/or admire shoes as a hobby — can generally be categorized into four types: the Hypebeast, the Original, the Collector, and the Reseller.

With a genuine love for the design and little concern for flashy collaborations, Ward falls under the Original category. Leave the bandwagon-jumping to the Hypebeasts. Indeed, Ward often waits for a trendy shoe to wane in popularity before wearing it or donates excess pairs once a style becomes mainstream. (Last summer, Ward donated 25 pairs of shoes to Feet for Phoenix, an initiative run by a friend who credits Ward with propelling him to his current job as a content creator for Reebok.)

Photo by Ben Welland

Plus, Ward actually wears his sneakers, differentiating himself from the Collectors and the Resellers. “I build my outfits from the shoe up,” he says. Indeed, even while wearing a simple cotton top and casual shorts, Ward has an easy confidence.

With frequent references to Steve Prefontaine, Andre Agassi, and Rod Laver throughout our conversation, it’s clear Ward loves the classics — a true Original. As he pulls out a crisp white pair of Nike Cortez (famously worn by Tom Hanks in Forrest Gump), I catch a glimpse of the young Ward opening up those Shox for the first time.

Money is no object, how much would you pay for a pair of sneaks? $500

Nike or Adidas? Nike

Vans or Converse? Vans

Wear or Collect? Wear

Oldest pair of sneakers you own? 25 years old

Most recent sneaker purchase? ASICS Gel-Lyte

Favourite Collaboration? Roger Federer Air Max 95

Yeezy – Yes or No? No

Vintage or New? Vintage

Favourite place to buy sneakers? Paragon Sports, New York City

If a sneaker were named after you, what would it be called? Steadfast

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