Let’s rewind back into the early 2000s when complementing your sneakers was all about combining them with throwback jerseys–Nike Air Force 1’s with a Wes Unseld or Magic Johnson jersey. While the masses worked to perfect their fits, a young sixth grader from Rhode Island was slowly building a sneaker collection from the bottom up.
“Around 2003, 2004 was when I really got into sneakers,” says Ivan Antunes, the founder of Sneaker Shouts and the man behind the Instagram account @iantunes113. “At the time I was working for my aunt underneath the table. So I would clean up her little shop that she had going on. I actually bought the Air Jordan VII ‘Citrus’ out of the Eastbay Magazine [with my money].”
Forging a lane in a congested community where sneakerheads clash on a regular basis while showcasing their newest kicks, the 24-year-old now has over 33,000 Instagram followers. Rather than compete, Antunes has always been a fan of actually buying sneakers to wear just for the sheer enjoyment of it, even though he’s sitting on over 100 pairs.
“I kind of came in an era where Jordans were kind of popular, but not that popular,” he says. “So you would go buy a pair of shoes, you can get them an hour or two late, come back, and you know, wear them to school the next day. Hopefully, you would be one of the only five kids with them on. Now, when a kid buys a shoe, he doesn’t even wear them at all.”
Growing up, @iantunes113’s sense of style went through several stages before evolving over time. While he credits the hip-hop culture for grooming him during his early beginnings, he noticed his style changing once he got into high school and college.
“I had my period in middle school where everything was baggy and that had a lot to do with hip-hop,” he says. “So I think hip-hop really styled my style today. Then, when I got into high school, it was more of the Polo era. You had Kanye really pushing that. And then, I actually remember senior year, I was going to college and I sold all my Jordans. That’s probably one of the dumbest things I’ve done.
“I needed money and I was going away to college. I said, ‘I’m going into a business school. I’m probably going to be wearing suits and what not.’ I was just like ‘Let me get rid of my shoes.’ I didn’t have a purpose to wear them anymore. So I actually bought four Nike SB Blazers. They were just the thing right there at the times.”
However, it wasn’t long before a new opportunity opened up for Antunes, allowing him an integral role in the fashion game. He took his talents over to Karmaloop, a very popular web retailer that thrived tremendously in selling men’s streetwear. As a college freshman, he became one of the top sellers at Karmaloop and things only got brighter from there as Antunes rebuilt his collection from scratch.
Despite winning over Karmaloop, Antunes was still searching for the right style to complement his new gig. A native of Rhode Island, a place he deems “years back” on the popular curve, Antunes had to look elsewhere.
“I was kind of modeling the brands that were on [Karmaloop],” he says. “I was heavy into streetwear. I mean, thank God for the Internet where they made everything more global. You’re able to discover new brands and what’s hot. You know, what’s hot online is usually what’s hot in the major cities.”
Antunes’ success at Karmaloop gave him more confidence. Boldly, as a 19-year-old intern, he proposed an idea. He wanted Karmaloop’s audience to help push content themselves by taking pictures of their newest kicks and fits to post on their site. In the days before Instagram, the company, sadly, balked. Instead of watching his idea fizzle out, @iantunes113 took his idea and ran with it. That’s when Sneaker Shouts was born.
After the first month, he hit 10,000 followers. He now has over 294,000 on Instagram.
As the climate continues to change in the sneaker community, Antunes is finding different ways to make his site flourish. For one, he has cut back on shouting out other people on Instagram in hopes of providing a more Sneaker News-type of feel. His audience comes to him expecting the hottest trends and sneakers, without all of the fluff.
“There’s a lot of sneaker blogs like Sneaker News, Kicks on Fire, and Nick Kicks,” he says, “so I’m just trying to take things in a different way. One of the things that stick out for me is that I’m one of the pages that will give you the place where you can purchase the shoe.”
Because Sneaker Shouts is gaining traction, Antunes’ eyes and ears have been glued to current trends in the culture.
“What I would love to see happen is a lot less collaborations between brands and boutiques,” he says. “I think that’s a market that’s been saturated and I think there’s been no meaning to it. I already spoke to some companies and they said, ‘Yeah, we’re gonna pull back a little bit.’ But, I don’t think it’ll be enough where it’s oversaturated. I would like to see that specialness come back. There’s not really that specialness between collabs nowadays.”
While his personal ventures grow, @iantunes113 has actually downsized his collection. Before that, the last time he counted he had 215 pairs.
“I mean, I worked directly with Saucony,” he says, “so I get sneakers with Saucony, I get sneakers with Villa, and I get sneakers from Asics. So there was just a lot of stuff that was seeded that I actually just did a huge closet sale on my site. Right now, if I have to guess, probably 125-130.”
While 130 sound may sound light to some invested sneakerheads, Antunes feels the number is just that: a number.
“There’s kids that own 10 shoes and there’s kids that own 300-400 pairs,” he says. “I don’t think there should be a limit to say, ‘Hey, if you wanna be generally interested in sneakers, you need this many pairs’ because I met a lot of kids that enjoyed seeing the sneaker and seeing the story and not having to buy it. Like you could be generally into cars, knowing how to fix them and know how it’s made, but not necessarily own so many.”
This mentality influences Antunes’ style, as well. He describes his look as “simple,” with blacks and greys and whites as his neutral colors. He doesn’t reach beyond his limit or follow trends.
“I’m not wearing cloaks,” he says. “I’m not wearing cowboy hats. I’m not knocking any of those guys. That takes a lot of bravery and boldness but I just like to be comfortable, first. If I’m not comfortable in something, I’m not gonna wear it, return it, or buy it.”
Though he does keep it simple, Antunes believes we might be on the cusp of seeing a new style blow up in 2016.
“I just think that more stylish look is coming into play now versus kind of what’s been hot,” he says. “In terms of trends, I haven’t really seen one that’s kind of stuck out. I think we’re kind of at a place where I think runners are more popular than they’ve ever been. Like nobody was wearing sweatpants as a style figure. That’s only been around for 3-4 years. Before, it was all about the denim, denim, denim.”
Rhode Island might be behind in the fashion department, but when it comes to sneakers, @iantunes113 continues to put his state on the map.
images via John Carle