Shoe Romance

Lace Case
Obsessed? You bet. We caught up with a trio of hardcore sneaker collectors to get the dirt on the coolest kicks in their closets.

Antoine Franklin
Age: 21
Pairs of sneakers in his collection: 60
Favorite pair: Nike Air Tech
Challenge II originals
“I’ll see cats walking down the street with their shoes that they just bought from Finish Line, and I’ll be wearing my shoes that haven’t been out for 10 years. It’s about looking cooler than everybody else.”

Greg Lausé
Marion, Ohio
Age: 21
Pairs of sneakers in his collection: 32
Favorite pair:Jordan XX3s
“I think I officially became a sneakerhead when I made the trip to Chicago in February and got in line at 9 p.m. in front of NikeTown to wait for the Air Jordan XX3 to go on sale at 8 a.m.”

Paul Simmons
Age: 21
Pairs of sneakers in his collection: 23
Favorite pair: Nike Dunk High Pro SBs (Unlucky)
“A lot of [sneakers] are very sought after and very rare,” says Simmons. “It’s about the satisfaction of having those in your collection.”
While their classmates stressed over graduation, Kenny Bencke, Vince Manzano and Kevin Washington spent their senior year drafting a plan to bring revered items such as Jordan XX3s, Supreme Blazers and Nike Dunk SB Unluckys to Cleveland.

If you have no idea what that means, your sneaker-culture IQ probably tops out somewhere around old-school Air Jordans. But for the trio of entrepreneurial teens, the absence of a place to buy the limited-edition shoes they coveted meant trips to Chicago or New York to find something fresh to put on their feet.

“You go to other [cities] and there’s always that little sneaker shop that has brands just a small niche of people are looking for,” says Washington, 18, of Cleveland Heights. “We wanted to provide that.”

In September, Washington and his partners, Manzano, 19, also of Cleveland Heights and Bencke, 20, of Chagrin Falls, opened Heart & Soul along Coventry Road in Cleveland Heights. The cozy storefront’s walls are doused in colorful artwork and, in addition to shoes, the store carries a modest selection of clothing and canvas artwork.

And while the store carries a small number of sneakers, styles and sizes, it offers highly sought after shoes that are particularly difficult to find.

“Some people say, ‘Oh I have 50 pairs of shoes. I’m such a sneakerhead.’ But for me it’s not about that.” says Washington. “It’s about knowing your shoes.”
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