Meet the Chicks with Kicks, Three Sisters Who’ve Collected Over 6,000 Pairs of Sneakers

If the term “sneaker collector” brings to mind sniffling teenage boy hypebeasts,  then you’ll be pleasantly surprised that what may arguably be the largest sneaker collection in the world – over 6,000 pairs –is managed by a trio of three sisters from Boca Raton, Florida whose online avatars are the Powerpuff Girls. Ariana, Dakota, and Dresden Peters took over the collection from their father, who began collecting in the mid-1980s. Their Instagram account has over 100k followers and fans fawn over their basketball court filled with rare sneakers. In the last forty years, the collection has ballooned to over 6,000 pairs, but who knows if that’s an accurate number – the sisters have stopped counting. FASHION spoke with Ariana, 24, and Dakota, 18, from the office of their family-run real estate company, on how sneakers can be a form of art, what it’s like to pursue such a male-dominated hobby, and what their future plans are for the collection.

So how did your dad get into collecting sneakers in the first place?

He started collecting out of a love of sports. He played basketball and wore sneakers as a fashion statement and it spiraled from there. Let’s say there was a pair of Air Force 1s he wanted to wear. He always bought a second pair to store. Then one shoe turned into a thousand. That’s how it goes with our dad usually.

How did he entice you to take over the collection?

Growing up surrounded by sneakers, you grow a love for it yourself. Each week there was a new sneaker. Now [collecting sneakers] is very prevalent but back then he was sort of a rarity. It wasn’t like that back then. There were sneakers all over our house. My dad had a sneaker room because there were so many pairs. It was always an art form to him. So it became a hobby for all of us.

How can sneakers be a form of art?

There’s a lot of history in sneakers. Just as someone would buy a coveted art piece, there are certain coveted sneakers, like the 1985 Air Jordan 1s. That was the first year the Jordans were released, they were really like a revolution to the brand Jordan and the brand Nike. In that sense it is an art form, it’s very expressive. Whether you’re storing the sneakers as a collection, it’s an art form, and also fashion is in and of itself an art form. At SneakerCon and these events we go to, everyone is expressing themselves in different ways. You look at someone and see their sense of self.

Can you give me a sense of what you do collect vs. what you don’t collect?

We specialize in rare examples, players editions, promos, samples. What we don’t buy is the hype stuff nowadays. For example, a Yeezy or the Pharrell Human Race Adidas. That’s what’s very popular now. They do a limited release and then the prices skyrocket, even though the box price is $250 or $200. We don’t buy into that stuff because it’s essentially a fake market. We don’t knock it. We appreciate the style. It’s very cool. But it’s not something we collect.

How much money is invested in the collection?

Well we stopped counting at 6,000 pairs. We don’t have an accurate number. But we don’t really look at it like that. We’ve had people offer us insurmountable amounts of money for our collection, but it’s something that we still haven’t explored.

So people have tried to buy the whole collection from you?

When we first started our Instagram account, within a few weeks we had one of the largest collectors reach out to us and immediately say ‘I would love to fly down and buy your whole collection.’ Because he saw we were three girls and he thought we didn’t really know what we have. We get hundreds of people each week writing us, ‘Can I buy this pair? Do you have this pair?’ We’ve never sold a pair and we’re not selling anything until we open up our store, where we’ll put the whole collection for sale.

I was curious if you would eventually donate the collection to a museum, or pass it on in your family. So tell me more about the store you’re going to be opening?

Our main goal is to be able to have a one stop shop where everything you could imagine involving a sneaker would be at our store. If you want to buy sneakers, if you want to clean your sneakers etc. We took our time and purchased a building across from our real estate office. We’re going to have a 24-hour livestream of the store because it is also a museum; there are so many sneakers there that people have never seen before. Also the design of the store is very important to us. We’ve seen so many sneaker stores, we couldn’t even name the amount…

Do you have a favourite sneaker in the collection?

We love our 1982 Air Force One collection because we have the largest collection of that specific shoe in the world. It has so much history. We have the Sex and the City x Nike Presto, which is really cool.

What’s your take on the designer sneakers – like these chunky Balenciaga ones – that have come out recently? Would you ever collect designer sneakers?

We love the designer sneakers, but does it really fit into what we collect? No. But do we love them and wear them? Yes. Streetwear is so cool. We love it when streetwear becomes high fashion.

What was behind the decision to start your own clothing line, CWK Supply?

We travel to a lot of the sneaker shows and the kids that come to these shows, they want to leave with something. Sometimes you can’t leave with a $700 pair of sneakers so we thought, ‘Why not make some cool t-shirts?” Also, every [sneaker show] booth we saw was run by men so we wanted to have our own booth and figured we should probably sell something. The last two shows, we were the only females to have a booth.

Why you think sneaker culture is so male-dominated?

We don’t really think about it because our real estate business is also male-dominated, so we’re sort of used to it. A lot of women do love sneakers, but they’re just not out in the open about it because it is known to be male-dominated. So many people came up to at the sneaker shows and said, ‘We’re so happy to see girls have their own booth.’ Even a mom told us she wanted her daughters to have a booth and this will make her not as scared because there’s other girls doing it.

Most people are probably shocked when they hear you have 6,000 pair of shoes. What drives you to keep collecting sneakers?

It’s a part of our family. Some families collect coins, cards, stamps. This is something we were brought up with so we have such a passion for it now. It’s become a part of our every day life, we’re creating content around sneakers, sharing our collection. It’s something we can’t imagine not doing.


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Doutzen Kroes Is Part Supermodel Part Super Hero

“She’s not a diva at all. She’s very real and kind, and she’s got her feet on the ground. She’s honest. Other models don’t feel competitive with her… Everyone likes Doutzen.”

When Doutzen Kroes picks up the phone, her voice is breathy and has a faint Dutch accent that makes the letter “v” tumble out of her mouth as a pillowy “f.” It’s the kind of posh international accent you’d expect from one of the top supermodels of her generation. What’s equally charming is the casual way she explains away her supernova success. “I’m very lucky I was born a certain way,” she says simply. It’s a humble outlook that may have come from growing up in Eastermar, a rural village located 160 kilometres from Amsterdam.

Kroes launched her career after reading a glossy magazine when she was 18. She says she remembers being overcome with a desire to look as glamorous and beautiful as the models she saw. She decided to send photos of herself to an Amsterdam-based modelling agency listed in the magazine. The photos were lost in the mail, but after she sent them a second time, the company eventually received them and called her right away to request a meeting. Kroes had never travelled to the capital before. She was signed almost immediately, booked a few shoots in the city and was soon living and modelling in New York.

“When I started out, the industry was more playful and not as calculated,” says Kroes. “Now, because of social media, everyone knows everything—there are all these 15-year-old girls who know all the big photographers and fashion designers. I had no idea; I was a naive girl who barely spoke English. Being shy didn’t help, so I basically said nothing all day. I was homesick a lot, but, step by step, I grew into it.”

Doutzen Kroes
Photography by Chris Colls. Styling, Joseph Tang. Hair, Panos Papandrianos. Makeup, Sil Bruna.

Kroes went from being a small-town girl to scoring a fairly regular spot on Forbes’s list of highest-paid models for more than a decade. That alone is an amazing feat, but what’s even more inspiring is that she still has a refreshingly grateful perspective. “Doutzen is a very grounded person,” says Trish Goff, a former model who is now a real estate agent.“She’s not a diva at all. She’s very real and kind, and she’s got her feet on the ground. She’s honest. Other models don’t feel competitive with her.”

That’s impressive in any industry but particularly in modelling, where good genes, connections and luck can change a young woman’s life or, minus the connections and luck, leave her enviously watching from the sidelines. Kroes’s career flourished like a succulent on a millennial’s windowsill. She dominated the runways in the aughts, landed campaigns for L’Oréal, Calvin Klein and Tiffany & Co. and earned a coveted spot as a Victoria’s Secret Angel, which she held until her retirement from the brand in 2015.

But the entire time she was cavorting in swimsuits on Miami Beach and wearing glittery Angel wings, Kroes felt that her work wasn’t having enough of a positive impact on the world. Goff says she understands how this feeling of “having something that is your own—that you’re part of and that you control” is crucial to a model’s sense of self-worth.

Kroes has always thought that it’s important to use the public platform she has wisely. Right now, that means lending her voice to the Elephant Crisis Fund for its “Knot on My Planet” campaign. The “knot” has a double meaning: It’s a reference to the tradition of tying a knot around one’s finger to remember something important as well as a nod to the elephant’s uncanny memory.

Doutzen Kroes
Photography by Chris Colls. Styling, Joseph Tang. Hair, Panos Papandrianos. Makeup, Sil Bruna.

For the campaign, Holt Renfrew collaborated with ethical basics brand Kotn and illustrator Melody Hansen to create a limited-edition T-shirt featuring a minimalist line drawing of an elephant. The shirt is currently available, and Holts will donate 100 per cent of the profits, as well as 10 per cent of the proceeds up to $200,000 from a charity shopping weekend on April 13 and 14, to the Elephant Crisis Fund.

“I love all animals, of course, but it was devastating to hear about the crisis,” says Kroes, explaining that 30,000 elephants are killed every year (or the equivalent of one elephant every 15 minutes) for their ivory. The Elephant Crisis Fund, which Kroes has been working with for two years, has raised $17 million toward 152 projects in 31 countries to address the poaching of elephants and the trafficking of ivory. Kroes has persuaded many of her high-wattage friends to participate, including Linda Evangelista, Christy Turlington and Naomi Campbell. The three of them were even photographed together for the campaign, a rare occurrence since the ’90s. “I’m so grateful that so many people in the fashion world participated in our campaign and were so enthusiastic,” says Kroes.

Kroes booked her first trip to The Samburu National Reserve in 2016 on the recommendation of David Bonnouvrier, her agent, and Goff, his fiancée. “They probably knew that if they sent me, I could become their global ambassador,” she says. “That’s exactly how it was,” confirms Goff. “We had an idea and told her to go and meet the elephants.” Of all the world’s top models they have at their disposal, why did Bonnouvrier and Goff pick Kroes as the face of an international campaign? “Everyone likes Doutzen,” says Goff.

Doutzen Kroes
Photography by Chris Colls. Styling, Joseph Tang. Hair, Panos Papandrianos. Makeup, Sil Bruna.

For Kroes, it was the elephants’ emotional nature that struck her most. “They are so emotionally similar to human beings,” says Kroes, noting the way her antsy son calmed down in their presence. Her children, Phyllon Joy, 7, and Myllena Mae, 3, also motivate her to get involved. “I’ve always felt like it’s my duty to give back,” she says.

Kroes and her husband, Sunnery James, have chosen to raise their children in Holland in a quiet, wholesome setting away from the hustle of New York City. “We’re both Dutch, so it’s nice to have the kids grow up with family around them,” she says. “They’re our link to the future, and I want them to live in a great world.”

Kroes and the elephants she’s trying to protect share a few notable traits: Their emotional lives are rich, and family life is important. And when they want something, it’s probably best to get out of their way.

Find Doutzen Kroes on the cover of our May 2018 issue

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