IDYSM: Hey Sam. So tell us a bit about your background. You were born in China, then moved overseas before heading home to work at SIZE, is that right?
Sam: I was born in a small town near Beijing and moved to Sydney when I was 16. I did lots of freelancing work for some Aussie basketball and sneaker sites through my uni years in Sydney. I always wanted to work in a print publication. Therefore, I took the job without any hesitation when I got the offer from SIZE. Especially it’s a sneaker publication, which is something I always dreamed of. Right now, I feel very lucky to be able to do what I love.
IDYSM: So how important have sneakers and sneaker culture been to you through your life?
Sam: Well, I was kind of a crazy sneakerhead before. I lined up overnight and saved money for buying shoes. I used to work at Footlocker in Sydney just because I like to be around by shoes all day! It might sound dumb, but I did enjoy the old times. Right now, I just can’t believe I can talk about sneakers for a living!
IDYSM: How has the scene in China changed as you’ve grown up?
Sam: I was born in 1989. I don’t think sneaker culture existed in the late 90s and even early 2000s in China. There was just no such a thing. Around that time, we have very limited resources to get that kind of knowledge. Besides, very few retailers in China sold Nike or Jordan shoes at that time. However, things started to change in the mid 2000s. Various online sneaker blog/websites and publications appeared, which educated people here in China about sneakers. Moreover, Michael Jordan’s first visit to China caused the popularity of sneaker and sneaker culture to explode.
IDYSM: Where is the scene at right now in China?
Sam: The time I moved overseas is when local sneaker culture started to form. Honestly, I have no idea that how things exactly changed here in China while I’m living in Sydney. But I noticed more people in China wearing great kicks when I visited occasionally on vacations. Lots of new boutiques popped up as well. After I moved back for good, I was pretty amazed by the whole sneaker scene. The depth of people’s sneaker knowledge is amazing. You could see people wearing dope sneakers everywhere. Today, it’s no doubt that China is playing a major part in world sneaker and street culture.
IDYSM: As a monthly publication what does Size offer, and who is its key audience?
Sam: Generally, SIZE is dedicated to coverage of topics relating to sneakers. We share the freshest kicks with readers in the first place. Besides, since NBA has a huge impact on sneaker scene in China, the performance tests of basketball shoes are playing a relatively big part content-wise.
Over the past years, SIZE gained huge support from local sneakerheads. So far, the mags can be purchased only in mainland China. But with a population of 1.3 billion people, what SIZE offers could let more people in China fall in love with sneaker and sneaker culture, by which it’s believed to see another explosion of sneakerheads worldwide.
IDYSM: As the biggest magazine in China, what does Size do to rep the scene in China, and also keep the country tapped into what trends are going on globally too?
Sam: I think China is as solid as any country for sneaker collectors. We featured so many Chinese sneaker collectors in the past issues. Also, performance-driven sneakers play a big role. The reason lots of Chinese kids are into kicks is because of their favourite star players.
SIZE is like eyes for Chinese sneakerheads, through which they could get a better understanding of what trends are going on globally. We are one of a few Asian media outlets that are invited to most of the major global sneaker events every year. Therefore, we get the opportunities to show the Chinese consumers what is really out there in some of sneaker hot spots, such as NY, LA, Paris and Tokyo.
IDYSM: What global influences tend to be strongest in China, and is the country in any way shaping it’s own sneaker identity?
Sam: I think American culture definitely has a huge influence in China, especially NBA and Hip-Hip culture. Nike Foamposite might be an odd shoe to wear in Oz, however, you can see them everywhere in China. More people will line up for those than Air Max QS. I’d say the current state of sneaker culture in China is somewhere between its own identity and the product of American culture.
IDYSM: In terms of manufacturing China is probably pretty much where it’s at for most of the sneaker industry. Do you think we’ll see a time where more design comes out of the country too?
Sam: Absolutely. Some of the Chinese designers started to get involved in the designing process of some big-name brand’s products in the past few years. As is known, brands like Nike and Jordan Brand always release Chinese-animal-zodiac-themed sneakers every year. Actually, those Chinese designers helped with choosing the best colorway and finalizing the subtle detail that fits the best in the designing theme, such as animal zodiac and Chinese traditional festivals. Besides, I have to say Li-Ning has made big noise in the market since Wade joined the brand. They did a great job on silhouettes, colorway and marketing.
DYSM: 2014 see’s the 10 year Anniversary of Size. How much of an achievement is that in China, and what did you do to mark the occasion?
Sam: SIZE has been the first Chinese sneaker magazine ever, which witnessed the growth of the sneaker culture in China over the past 10 years. I’m not sure if I can say SIZE has a dominating role in shaping China’s own sneaker identity, but it definitely plays a role as an “educator”, and educates people to understand the stories behind sneakers. I’m just honoured to be a member of SIZE family.
IDYSM: To celebrate the Anniversary Size teamed up with Reebok for the production of a ‘Galloping Horse’ edition of the Classic Leather. What was your role in the design of the shoe?
Sam: The shoe is part of Reebok (China)’s 2014 CNY project. Actually, there were several different material stories that are related to “Year of the Horse” we could go with for the design. However, we were slightly perplexed as to how to fuse the 10th Anniversary publication’s theme into the “Horse story”. In the end, the whole team decided to go with my idea, of which the inspiration comes from the most well known Chinese ancient statue. The bronze statue basically described a galloping horse so fast that a flying swallow could hardly escape from his stepping hoofs. It’s like a metaphor to convey that the publication is believed to get to another great height at full speed. The ancient Chinese character on the heel, Wu, represents the specific year of the horse in the zodiac, while the Shi means “10” to represent the 10th Anniversary of the publication.
IDYSM: What does the future hold for you and the magazine?
Sam: Hopefully we can release the English version of SIZE magazine to reach more International readers in the near future. Besides, we’ll do a collaboration shoe with big name brand soon. Unlike the Reebok Classic leather “Galloping Horse”, it will be for public release this time. And for myself, I think there is still a lot for me to achieve in my career (sneaker media). Besides, I love to experience different cultures. Hong Kong or the US will be my next destination. I might be living there for a couple of years.
IDYSM: Final question, and regular readers of In Their Shoes will know I always end with this; what’s on your feet right now?
Sam: Supply x Vans Chima Pro “S”. I always support my Aussie fam!