"Collecting is about making your space a reflection of your mind and the things you’re passionate about."
Avant Arte: How many sneakers are in your collection?
Cheng: I’m down to around 1000 now but in my lifetime I think I have collected over 20,000.
Avant: How did you get started collecting sneakers?
Cheng: We’re a sports family. My sister loves basketball, her favourite shoes are Converse and Diadora. Diadora is a really underrated brand in my opinion. I started buying shoes and playing basketball because of her. When I was at school, New Balance was really popular – it’s cool to see it coming back decades later. We’d go on family holidays to Hong Kong and I’d come back with like 10-20 pairs of shoes.
Avant: What are your favourite sneakers?
Cheng: Nike Adapt Auto Max. It’s an amazing design.
Avant: Do you wear them?
Cheng: I wear the non-auto ones, they’re super comfortable. I just bought another pair.
Avant: What’s your favourite artist x sneaker collab?
Cheng: It has to be Parra x Nike.
Avant: You are a huge influencer in the hypebeast space, does that culture also influence how you collect?
Cheng: Not really. Because I’ve been a collector since I was really young, most of my collections started before hypebeast culture. For example, my dad would always bring me Japanese robot toys when he came back from his travels. It is exciting to see people’s interest in these areas grow though, and people sharing their passions.
Avant: What else did you collect as a child?
Cheng: I collected everything. Care Bears and other stuffed toys. Basketball and wrestling cards. He-Man – I wish I still had my He-Man collection but my mum gave them all away. I think about it all the time.
Avant: How did you start collecting art?
Cheng: My art collection started with art by Michael Lau. I discovered his work in Hong Kong around 20 years ago. I already loved toys so it was a natural transition for me. There were also really cool street artists coming up in the Philippines, like Christian Tamondong. I think the first painting I bought was spray paint on paper by Egg Fiasco, back when he was still selling his work on the street.
Avant: What are your favourite artworks in your collection?
Cheng: It has to be one of the works by the cartoonist Joan Cornellà. I love that type of dark humour, and the message behind it too. He’s pretty huge right now so I feel lucky to have the complete set of prints available on his website.
Avant: What other artists are you interested in at the moment?
Cheng: BenCab is an all time favourite, alongside Mark Whalen and Takashi Murakami. There are also some Filipino artists I’m loving at the moment like Rola Ventura and Luis Lorenzana. It’s important to me to support local artists and talent whenever I can.
Avant: What is the collector scene like in the Philippines?
Cheng: The collecting scene is huge right now particularly the market for local art, but with growing interest in international artists. Collectors here are very resourceful and I like to think we have really good taste here in Manila.
Avant: What does collecting mean to you?
Cheng: Every now and then you find works of art and artists that you can’t stop thinking about, you become obsessed. You want it to be in your home. You want it to be with you. Collecting is about making your space a reflection of your mind and the things you’re passionate about. I’ve always done it, it’s part of my identity.
Avant: Do you ever question your collection and think you want to sell it all and do something completely different?
Cheng: I’ll never stop collecting.
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