Andy Knight is many things; he owns a streetwear brand called Known Worldwide, he owns a store in Swindon called The Forum, and he's an avid collector. His collection of Air Max 1's has seen him get a lot of attention on social media, and rightly so, as it's something you really have to see in person to truly grasp; it's that impressive. Despite collecting Air Max 1's since the mid–2000s, Andy doesn't think he's an OG in UK sneaker culture, and he wouldn't claim to be; "I wouldn’t begin to say ‘I know all these old school 'heads,’ because I’m just a fucking nerd, who just loves collecting stuff and just loves sneakers, and I always have."
Indeed he has. He started off collecting Nike SB's back when he was a skater, before moving on and rounding on the Air Max 1, where he's settled on a number and rotates his collection in the search for the ever-elusive perfect combination; "87 is enough for me. I capped it at 87 and I will never go over 87. [...] I swap them out, trade them out, but I won’t go over 87. I’m around 85 at the moment, I think. Sometimes, I just cull them, and I’m at a stage now where I love every single pair of sneakers in there, but there’s still pairs out there that I want."
If you're wondering where it all came from, Andy has a theory that seems to match the story of most people who find their way into sneaker collecting; that because he spent his childhood in seemingly unbreakable Dunlops and Hi-Tecs, yearning for a pair of cool kicks, those desires stayed with him into his adult years. "Once I could afford my own kicks, I started buying my own kicks. And because I collect things, I think I'd get one, and then I'd get another one, and then that was influenced by one that came out five years before, so I'd get the one from five years before, and then there’s a pack, so I'd get the pack, and then if I need the pack then I start looking at the timeline, then I need to get the timeline."
"I don’t want to sound too cheesy but I think the reason why I’m so into kicks is because when I put a pair of trainers on, even now, for a very, very split second, it reduces me back to some child-like state of mind where I’m fucking buzzing because I’ve got my new trainers on. Anything that can give you that kind of happiness, fuck it, pursue it."
All things in moderation though; as an advocate of responsibility when it comes to sneaker collecting, Andy is full of sage advice for young kids just getting into the scene, including one young guy who spoke to Andy in his store about wanting to drop a cool £350 on a pair of Atmos x Nike Air Max 1 "Safari", despite still living with his mum. "I told him to go and have fun, go and live his life. If you’re lucky enough to put yourself in a position in later life, when you’re sorted and you’re a bit on-track, then treat yourself. But don’t get mixed up in following what people you need to follow, because you’re just going to go down a path where you’ll be surrounded by a load of boxes and still be living at your mums when you’re fucking 29." Preach.
It's not all about just buying and then owning Air Max for Andy though—he wears his kicks, and often will pick up pairs that have been worn heavily so he can invest time and energy in reconditioning them, putting his own stamp on them and truly making them his. "It’s almost like some kid who’s had them, kicked the shit out of them not knowing what he’s got, he’s put them up, I’ve seen them and thought, yeah, they’re mine. I don’t like buying new kicks. Most of the trainers in my collection have either been repainted by me or at least been reconditioned."
Thanks to this attitude, Andy is known as a 'head who's going to give a good home to his kicks, and that can lead to some very good deals on some really, really desirable sneakers. "The guy who messaged me for them [the original 1987 release Air Max 1], said ‘give me £250 for them’, which is still a shitload of money for a pair of kicks that aren’t going to be worn because they’re fucked, but there’s a pair on eBay at the moment for £1000."
While we would have loved to have talked through all 87 pairs in Andy's collection, we asked him to narrow it down to his top five—which eventually got stretched to seven—so scroll for the run-down, and be sure to drop him a follow on Instagram to see some of this incredible heat on-feet.