On this week's Community Spotlight we sat down with James Harvey, founder of the sneaker community page " The Urban Syndicate".
We delve into James' personal collection to get a sense of what it looks like and find out what introduced him to the sneaker culture. We also dig a little deeper into the Urban Syndicate, what it's about and how it all started.
Q: Thanks for sitting down with us today, please tell us a bit about yourself?
A: My name is James and I'm the founder of the Urban Syndicate. I'm 22 and based in Manchester, I've been collecting shoes for 5 to 6 years collecting mostly SB Dunks with other brands and silhouettes mixed in.
Q: What is the most important factor when deciding whether to purchase a sneaker? For example, looks, materials, exclusivity, comfort, collaborations or hype?
A: Personally silhouette comes first, having tried multiple pairs I have collected SB Dunks for the majority of my years in the scene. This hasn't prevented me from picking up other stuff but it is definitely a massive factor if I want something for my rotation. Exclusivity is a massive part of the game and I appreciate some of my older pairs that I know don't turn heads but the story behind them or how I acquire them makes them sentimental and rare.
Q: What's your top 3 sneaker brands in order?
A: Nike, New Balance and Mizuno
Q: What's your top 3 silhouettes across all brands?
A: Nike SB Dunk Low, Nike Air Jordan 1 High, Nike SB Dunk High - nothing special here but these are the pairs I always gravitate towards. Notable mentions to the NB 2002R, NB992 and NB990. Asics Gel Lyte III and Mizuno Waverider 10 but unfortunately severely lacking in my rotation despite some crazy releases.
Q: Let's dig a little deeper into your collection now; name the oldest and newest pair in your collection?
A: My oldest pair is the Nike SB High Hay Maple Taupe from 2002 which was a hook up from a good friend within the US. My latest pick up is the J3 Reimagined White Cement. I wouldn't pass on a re-release of such as classic silhouette but they'll be staying unworn for a year or two whilst the hype dies down. They'll be a pair that turns heads in a few years.
Q: What's your favourite shoe that you own and why?
A: Nike SB Dunk Blue Lobster, I bought this shoe from California and it took 6 weeks to arrive having been caught at Customs. I bought it pre 'Dunk' craze in 2018, so although expensive it was nowhere close to the prices you get now for a DS pair. I've worn them a lot and even taken a chunk out of the upper material. It's a shoe I cherish as I love everything about the Lobster pack and consider it a historical piece of SB history.
Q: What's the rarest shoe in your collection?
A: My 1/444 Adidas Purple Velvet ARs...they are certainly a collectors piece and one I rarely wear. I believe it was released for the 25th anniversary of the Adidas London Store, Nothing hype, just unique.
Q: What pair holds the most sentimental value to you and why?
A: Nike SB Supreme Blue. There's a lot of sentimental stories in this shoe from being copped for my birthday to their significance at the US Bowling event to being worn at my friends wedding. I don't wear them often and because of this they've really just acquired stories around them and they always bring good times.
Q: What shoe if your all-time grail?
A: I guess this will always be a controversial question, my first thought is the Nike SB Dunk High FLOM...a shoe designed by the legend Futura and one of 24 produced in brown leather. A piece of history and I'd love the accompanying skateboard that came with them!
Q: What pair is next on your list?
A: The Nike SB Orange Lobster...in-fact they are already on their way and being authenticated as I write this. I couldn't let them slip through the net and as I've come to realise the longer the wait the harder things are to pick up.
Q: Now let's talk about your community page; The Urban Syndicate, How did it all start?
A: The Urban Syndicate started in November 2019...the page dubbed "US" was created as a way to bring sneakerheads together who were sick of paying resell and wanted something different. Our vision hasn't changed in the 3-4 years we've existed.
Q: What is the Urban Syndicate all about?
A: We wanted to promote a people first mentality. We've raised multiple thousands for charity, bought members shoes who have been through tough times and focused on really cultivating a place that felt more like a family than a sneaker group. The physical meets are a huge part of what we do, sharing exciting adventures around the UK whilst also bringing together like-minded individuals and connecting in person and online.
Q: What does the word "community" mean to you?
A: Community is complicated as it means a lot of different things. It can be geographical or interest based but it's focused on having a shared sense of identity that people can associate with.
Q: What advice can you give to people looking to start their own community page?
A: Focus on being unique, have a different idea on how something can be made better. The focus should be on adding value to peoples' lives and contributing in a positive way. There is no competition in community and it has to be about elevating the people who have the biggest hearts and focusing on making positive changes in the best ways you can.
Q: What's the plans going forward for The Urban Syndicate?
A: There's a lot going on behind the scenes but the focus is continuing as we have been. Making sure that we help with retail hook-ups, in-person meets and just chilling in the discord creating good memories.
Q: Where can people find you on socials, and any other channels?
A: Follow @the_urban_syndicate on Instagram, and you'll find everything else from there!