Tony DeAngelo–better known as @tonyd2wild by his 50,000-plus Instagram followers and nearly 104,000 YouTube subscribers–wants you to know that he hasn’t always been a sneakerhead. Far from it. In fact, until 2013 he didn’t even know the names of most of the biggest releases and kept his sneaker stash small. But like many collectors before him, His Airness became Tony’s gateway into the sneaker world.
“The shoe that started the whole shebang for me was the Jordan IV Toro Bravo,” DeAngelo says. “It released [in 2013] and I got that, and after that I went along and got the black Grapes, and it just kept going. That started the whole collection leading up to now.”
In just over two years, things have changed a lot for DeAngelo. After being booted from his out-of-state university, he returned home to Decatur, Georgia, in 2013, dusted himself off, started taking classes at a local college, and used the money he had saved to buy a Canon T2i camera. A budding side career in photo and music video shoots with artists like up-and-coming Atlanta rapper 21 Savage really took off after DeAngelo’s Toro Bravo purchase led him to YouTube, where for the first time he started checking out videos of sneaker reviews.
He did not like what he saw.
“I thought that it was cool,” he says, “but everybody’s quality wasn’t good. Everyone was [filming] on a camera phone and weak cameras. Me on the other hand, I had my Canon. I had a whole bunch of shoes in my closet and I figured, ‘You know what? Let me just go ahead and do a video. My quality is way better.'”
And so @tonyd2wild was born. As his following started to build, DeAngelo befriended another rising star in the YouTube sneaker community, one who at the time had about 5,000 followers but now has nearly 300,000: @bull1trc. They quickly became close friends, and have since co-created their own clothing line called Sample Industries. They’ll be dropping their new line of velvet hoodies on March 11, with more to come later this spring.
This foray into the fashion world is actually a perfect outlet for DeAngelo, who has a different philosophy than many when it comes to how to put a fit together.
“Maybe two years ago, I felt like with the shoes and clothing you had to get it in one unit everything had to match,” he says. “But the way things are now, you don’t have to match anymore to be clean. You can focus on your clothing, and then the shoes are its own thing, its own soul…it doesn’t have to be all one uniform.”
This attitude of not needing one standard look means that, to DeAngelo, brand loyalty is unnecessary to building a sneaker collection. He sees many people choosing what to cop based largely on their nostalgia for Michael Jordan or admiration of Kanye West, rather than the actual shoes. When he puts together a YouTube video, DeAngelo is hyper-aware of his audience and wants to offer them a fresh, different perspective.
He says, “I’ll try to spice things up and give different looks rather than just being that dude who does the same thing everybody else is doing. I like to be different as much as I can.”
He lives that philosophy, too. In DeAngelo’s current rotation you’ll find sneakers from adidas, PUMA, Jordan Brand, and Saucony, whose quality and comfort DeAngelo describes as “A-1.” His default right now is a simple all-white adidas Ultra Boost, in his words a “go-to shoe I can just grab, slip on, and keep moving.”
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Indeed, when building a collection DeAngelo stresses that it’s not just about how you look; you have to be comfortable too.
“I’m not the one that’s going to wear some shoes that hurt like hell but it’s like ‘I look good in this,'” he says. “I need to make sure that the shoe and the technology behind it has a good feel, I’m feeling good, I’m comfortable when I’m moving, and not walking weird or a certain way just to look good.”
For Tony DeAngelo, style isn’t just a certain look or sneaker; it’s a feeling, a vibe you put out that shows you feel comfortable in your own skin. Your fit should represent who you are and reflect the idea that you’re happy being you. It’s not a set equation where everything has to be just so. He really puts it best when he says, “As long as your shoes are right, the clothes are right and they blend, you’re good to go.”
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all images via @tonyd2wild