Getting Her Kicks: Artist Briony Douglas on Her Sneaker Collection

“She went on her IG Live a few hours later and said: ‘I know what happened. If you want them, DM me right now,’” recalls Douglas. “If you were lucky enough to have her open your DM, you’d get them. And my message was opened.”

briony douglas sneaker collection
“As I’ve moved more deeply into the street-culture world, I’ve seen a huge shift in my work,” says Douglas about how sneakers have become a muse. “I do what I love; you’ll see this come through in my work.” PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE LEVASSEUR.
briony douglas stan smith
One of Douglas’s most recent artistic projects was a Stan Smith sculpture made from almost 10,000 donated bottle caps. “It speaks to the sustainability initiatives Adidas is adopting for its production,” she says. Photography courtesy of Briony Douglas.
briony douglas sneaker collection
Jerry Lorenzo’s collaborative shoe with Nike is one pair that Douglas doesn’t wear. “They’re the most iconic sneakers in my collection because this is the only time Nike ever allowed a designer to redesign a performance shoe,” she says. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE LEVASSEUR.

Douglas shares that bots are a huge bane for collectors, especially given how much of a digitized undertaking snagging sneakers has become. “You almost always have to buy them on resale now, which is crazy expensive,” she notes. Given their precious nature, Douglas treats her assemblage tenderly, storing them in compartmentalized shelving units and even keeping some pairs purely for visual pleasure.

“I’m very careful,” she adds. “I check the weather before I go out. If I’m going to an event that’s going to be crowded, I won’t wear a yellow pair because they’re going to get stepped on.” The hands-on nature of her work means that for certain scenarios, she’ll wear many different pairs of sneakers. For example, she travelled with 10 pairs for a five-day trip to record behind-the-scenes content of the construction of a five-metre whale sculpture (made out of recycled materials) in Vancouver. She wore prized pairs for recording and then switched them out to continue working on the installation.

briony douglas sneaker collection
“It’s been interesting to see luxury auction houses selling sneakers,” notes Douglas. Here, she’s wearing 2021 Foam Runner shoes from Yeezy; the first prototype style made by the brand recently sold at a Sotheby’s auction for $1.8 million. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE LEVASSEUR.
briony douglas sneaker collection
Douglas owns several pairs of sneakers in
shades of pink. “I keep my collection in mind when buying clothes,” she says of how she marries her passion with
her outfits. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE LEVASSEUR.
briony douglas sneaker collection
Douglas points to Instagram accounts @if_i_cant_wear_snkrs and @simplykiah as resources for learning about sneaker history and drops. PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE LEVASSEUR.

These preservation measures raise the question: What will Douglas eventually do with her sneakers? “I’m very lucky to be at a point in my career where I can just collect,” she says. “I’ll sell something if there’s a big grail I want. [For the uninitiated, that means an extremely rare pair.] My boyfriend is constantly swapping — that’s part of the game for him. I get that, but I really love all of my shoes.”

PHOTOGRAPHY BY DANIELLE LEVASSEUR. HAIR AND MAKEUP, VANESSA BAUDNER.

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