"I always top it off with a pair of sneakers and everything just falls into place."

Photography by Gillian Chionh | Video by Jordan Martin

For our 8th instalment in the Sneakerhead Talks series, we have Rachel Yap — our first female collector feature. She’s a YouTuber with some dope streetwear from the West Coast. Perth to be precise. And of course she loves her sneakers! So without further ado, we present Rachel the sneakerhead.


A Little About Rachel

“Hey guys! Alright so the basics are, my name’s Rachel and I’ll be turning 22 soon. I’m originally from Malaysia but I’ve been in Perth for almost two handfuls. I’m probably the biggest foodie you’ll ever meet and will definitely squeal at every dog I come across.

‘Those new?’ is a question that I get often ‘cause ya girl has no self-control whatsoever when it comes to sneakers and clothing.”

 

Sneaker Beginnings

“I started taking hip hop classes when I was around 12 and sneakers, in a way, made me feel like I danced better haha. I don’t know. I just felt like there is so much power in shoes when I put them on for dancing.”

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“I used to beg my parents to get me kicks back when all the chunky high-tops were all the rage. I still have them actually. Can’t seem to bring myself to move them along.

I’ve always admired the more advanced dancers and how loud their kicks were, how confident they performed and how fly they looked. So I made sure my shoe game stayed fresh and ever since then it’s been a continuous spiral even when I haven’t danced in a few years ‘eep’.”

 

Describing Her Street Style

“I feel like my ‘style’ and what I wear is always kinda an accident. I honestly don’t get dressed with any rules in my head, so I don’t try to match things and I avoid what some would call ‘fashion faux pas’. ‘Comfort above all’ is what I go by so I start from there.”

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“I like hacking up my clothes as well but mostly for practicality since I’m on the petite side. If I like a men’s top but the only size they have left is an XL, all is well — I’ll just halve it with a pair of scissors. Jeans too long? Chop. Sleeves too long? Roll.

But to really describe my style, I’d say comfortable. Sometimes boyish, sometimes girly, most times a bit of both. I always top it off with a pair of sneakers and everything just falls into place.”

 

Vlogging and “Look Book Videos” on YouTube

“It has been a lot of fun honestly. I didn’t start it with any expectations and it’s been a low-key thing I was doing in my spare time so the response I have been getting from people has been really cool and encouraging.

The best thing about it is I’ve met a lot of viewers who I now talk to quite often and we all have really similar interests. So it’s been good all in all (shoutout to my Americans and Europeans).

I enjoy making and editing the videos as well. It was mainly a way for me to get out of my comfort zone and to have a central spot for my creative juices to chill so yeah, glad I got over being shy and did it.”

 

Favourite Pair in The Collection

“Ah, this is a tough one. I’m gonna have to go with my top two. First being my Air Jordan White Cement 4s from 2012, my first pair of Jays. It’s two sizes too big and has become extremely yellowed but I still take it out all the time. Little background story, I had a pair that was gifted to me to start with but they were stolen a few days afterwards when my house got broken into. I never got it back (in hindsight, it might’ve been a sign that I clearly ignored). So I went back for a second pair hence the two sizes too big.

Second being my Air Jordan Black Cement 3s which I have two of. Those are right up there as my ‘grails’ and I use that word with its full authority.”

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Love & Hate About Today’s Sneaker Scene

“Love the community. So for the people who aren’t into the sneaker game, it boggles their minds why anyone would wake up at 6am on a Saturday in July to go to a raffle for shoes (this is where I would exclaim, ‘But they’re not just shoes, they’re Jordans!’).

So call me mad but I really do enjoy the experience. To see people who are a part of the community all gathered together with their kicks on and a coffee in hand. All there for the same thing. The conversations that take place and the excitement or disappointment throughout the number calling, it’s just nice to see. And I’m glad to have those memories with my kicks.

And of course, nothing beats the good people who go out of their way to help each other out ’cause at the end of the day, we all respect and understand what we’re about. I’ve met so many humble and genuine people through sneakers.

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Hate is a strong word but if I was to pick out the negatives because of how the sneaker scene has grown to become, one would be the certain people who are in it for the wrong reasons (i.e. to hyper-flex and gain). But oh well, the same thing happens to any scenes really. Would love to be around when it starts keeping genuine though.”

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The Perth Sneaker Scene

“It has definitely evolved here in Perth since I first started collecting. It’s still small but grandly budding. Especially with the sneaker retailers from across the country realising there is a strong sneaker culture here in Perth, opening shops left and right in recent years. Also, I’ve been seeing more and more female sneaker enthusiasts around Perth which is always refreshing.

Everyone I’ve come across has been chill and working in a streetwear company, I get to meet a lot of local sneakerheads who have been at it heavy for a while now.”

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“The scene over here is quite diverse too. I find some of us are into runners, the simpler silhouettes, Boosts, Gel-Lytes and Flyknits. We’ve also got a fairly tight circle who are into our Jays, dabbled with some designer. I guess everyone has their thing they’re into.”

 

Advice for New Collectors

“Rock what you like, don’t fall into the hype. Quality over quantity. Trust me, I used to impulse buy like crazy, blow it on shoes I wouldn’t actually wear just for the sake of collecting. But as I learnt, it’s really not about having a lot. Buy with caution of course. Do your research before bank transferring for that pair of Pirate Blacks. Start slow, figure out what you like, what goes with your wardrobe and what you want to emanate. And have fun really. Posi vibes all around.”

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Special thanks to everyone who made this feature possible, this includes but not limited to:

Rachel Yap (@quinrachel) for taking the time out to do this interview (her YouTube channel here);

Gillian Chionh (@gillianchionh) for snapping the great photos despite the undesirable weather;

Jordan Martin (@jordypmartin) for filming and stitching the video together (coming soon); and

Jay Mijares (@jay.tks) from The Kickz Stand for providing the logistics!


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