While cities like New York and Los Angeles will always hold sway within the sneaker community, the culture isn’t limited in 2016. From fashion-forward hot spots like Atlanta to slept-on cities in the Northeast, everyone is trying to show and prove in the age of social media.
As the “hometown” of the greatest signature sneaker line ever made, Chicago holds a unique place within that environment. Just ask Tyjuan Mathis.
Mathis, known to his nearly 23,000 followers as @regularolty on Instagram, has created an impressive sneaker collection over the years while working with Leaders 1354, a staple of Chicago streetwear. His Instagram is laced with vintage classics, including Jordans, Nike Air Maxes, and Air Force 1’s. While these sneakers certainly play vital roles in Ty’s immaculate collection, his first paycheck as a youngster from the Cincinnati Zoo was dedicated to another brand: Converse.
“I bought a pair of Chucks,” Mathis says. “I bought them from the Sears outlet for $7.99 and I bought like three different colors of them. I bought matching Starter T-shirts to match. I ended up buying the little snapback hats the next day. So I spent my whole check on those.”
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From ninth grade on, Mathis began racking up sneakers, and now he’s proudly sitting on over 350 pairs of shoes.
“I collected baseball cards at one point,” he says. “So I guess it was kind of like that. Once I see something, I like it, and then I end up getting more, and more, and more. It wasn’t on purpose. I just like shoes.”
In addition to the quantity, diversity is key for @regularolty. He believes that’s what separates him from other collectors.
“I’ve always been diverse,” he says. “I’ve been diverse since high school. I was rocking Asics in high school and that’s all I thought about wearing. I had the Pumas. I had the Diadoras before they even came back in the U.S. I liked a little bit of everything. I like clothes too. I like to take a little bit of everything altogether. I have so many clothes, so I need to have a lot of shoes to counter all the clothes that I have.”
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While @regularolty’s diversity is admirable, it’s his creativity that takes precedence. His Instagram popularity stems, in part, from his eye for creating dope sneakers on NIKEiD. Instead of diving headfirst into the stores, he often takes matters into his own hands, curating kicks of his choice. Mathis even names them. Some of his sneakers includes his self-titled “Minnie Mouse” Nikes and his “Summer Time Fine” Kicks.
“I pretty much just sit down and think about colors,” he says. “I say, ‘You know what? I’m gonna roll with this color.’ I just do it around that color and just try to make something out of that. I might just sit on there for like two minutes and boom, be ready to pay for it. I did a Puma thing awhile ago. They had a little Mongolian barbecue. So I went to the store and they had me do one of those. I think I might of made that shoe in like two minutes. I still wear that shoe to this day. It’s one my favorites.”
In addition to the shoes, Mathis always makes sure to keep the fits fresh as the sneakers are just one part of that. His casual wear doesn’t require too much flare, either. He keeps things simple.
“I’ve never really followed the trends,” he says. “I can’t afford all of the trends. It costs too much money. I pretty much just buy what I like and stay true to what I’ve known and always known pretty much.”
As winter crawls back into its cave, spring is finally here, which enables @regularolty to jump into his closet and rock his favorite fit piece: “I do a lot of crewnecks. I love crewnecks that are lightweight and not too heavy. I also do my own line, All Things Regular. I got some nice Tees and some nice jackets coming in. I wear my denim shirt. A pair of denim, simple shoes, and keep it moving.”
Of course, @regularolty’s simplicity and love for sneakers are forever going to be a part of him no matter where he goes. You could throw him on an island, by himself, and he’d be okay as long as he gets a chance to bring a few pairs of kicks.
“I’d take a pair of white and green Stan Smiths,” he admits. “Give me a pair of off-white Chuck Taylors–the 1970s version–and I’ll take a pair of Air Max 90 Infrareds. Then, I’m good to go.”