Chinese model Liu Wen’s surprising fashion addiction is refreshingly rooted in practicality. We had the chance to chat with the Lucky girl about her love of sneakers—read on for the exclusive interview!
Lucky: About how many pairs of sneakers do you own?
Liu Wen: I haven’t done an exact count, but definitely more than 120 pairs total.
What do you love about sneakers?
The main reason I first became fond of sneakers is because I was always very tall, even as a child—so anything with a heel only made me tower over everyone else even more. My feet are also on the larger side, and it was hard to find shoes that looked nice. Sneakers were like my savior!
When and why did you start collecting them?
When I started my collection, I chose styles I loved the most or thought were very unique. Admittedly I am a bit of a hoarder, so I would buy and keep anything that looked memorable…and eventually the collection just exploded beyond my own expectations! After some friends and brands found out about my appreciation for sneakers, they started gifting them to me as well. As the shoes grew in number, so did my legitimate interest in learning about each style, the materials used to create them, the history of the brands, etc. Eventually I came to understand that they also represented a kind of "life force" for me over the years, because they carried me through all the paths I’ve taken, and each path is filled with nostalgia.
Do you remember your first-ever pair of sneakers?
I honestly can’t remember my first-ever pair, but the first sneakers that held more meaning than usual came from my mom, when she bought a pair of Adidas for me to wear during some middle school athletic events. Even though many years have passed since then, I’ve kept that pair the entire time. They have been a part of some great memories.
Are you the kind of collector who wears your pairs, or are some so special that you keep them boxed up or only take them out for special occasions?
I keep most of my collectible sneakers in their original state in-box. This way I can make sure that the shoes stay in mint condition. Because many of them are so beautifully designed, I can’t bring myself to touch them at all. Sometimes, after wearing a pair, I’ll clean the surfaces and the soles until everything is spotless again before returning them to the box.
Which are your favorite pairs in your collection, and why?
Probably the ones from the Adidas Originals by Jeremy Scott "Winged" and "Animal" collections. They always look so lively whether they’re on my feet or not, and I always feel special affection for anything that has cute animals on it. All in all, wearing those somehow makes me feel more energetic!
They’re certainly statement sneakers. Do you get a lot of questions or comments when you wear them?
There are actually two styles from the Jeremy Scott "Winged" collections that I love. One is "JS Adiwings," which has a singular wing attached to the outer panel of each shoe. The other is "JS Wings 2.0," which has two wings attached to the rear portion of each shoe. The "Animal" collection also has so much variety, from JS Gorilla, JS Panda, JS Zebra…it goes on and on. Sometimes during fashion weeks I’ll detach the wings to turn them into a more versatile style. It also saves me room in my luggage, because it’s as if I’m packing two different pairs of shoes! A lot of people tend to pay attention to how they style shoes with the rest of an outfit, but they still hesitate to make shoes the most attention-getting part of the look. These JS pairs, however, are always hard to miss and fun for everyone to see. Whenever I wear them on the street, everyone asks me where they’re from!
Do sneakers go with everything?
Sneakers definitely go with everything—most of the time we just don’t realize it. Even though they have a stigma of looking informal, for me they’re appropriate for many more occasions than one expects. There is, of course, the standard style of pairing sneakers with a t-shirt and jean shorts. Add on some simple accessories plus short or long socks, and you can turn the look into something stylish and athletic. On the other hand, they also look great when worn with a simple top and blazer or long dress or short skirt, which gives a splash of character to an otherwise low-key look. Lastly, combining sneakers with the business casual style of a dress shirt under a thin sweater paired with trousers can make you seem more accessible in even the most serious of scenarios. But remember: in the end, it is about choosing sneakers with the right material and color scheme, too.
Are you surprised that sneakers are having such a big fashion moment right now?
For me, it’s not a surprise so much as just thrilling news! Because of my job as a model, I’m often in heels—often the tallest shoes in the world, in fact. But as sneakers become more on-trend and I get to wear them more both on the catwalk and on set, it allows me to relax a lot during work and feel stronger and freer in all my movements. For anyone who is taller or who has larger-than-average feet, we suddenly have even more stylish choices!