Kevin Poon's office, which occupies two floors of an industrial building, is filled with sneakers. They're everywhere: lining the corridor, on the shelves, and right next to his desk.
"I get this question a lot: How many pairs of shoes do you have? To be honest, I can't tell," he says. "I have been buying sneakers since I was seven or eight years old."
Like most sneaker collectors, Poon was a basketball fan before becoming sneaker-crazy. He was dazzled by NBA superstars Michael Jordan and Gary Payton in the early to mid-90s.
"I watched great basketball players at their best and I also saw the fabulous sneakers that they had on. I played basketball in school and like most players, I wanted to get myself nice shoes to play in," he says.
The Air Jordan Series is a prized item for most collectors, and Poon is no exception. He said he has owned every model starting from Air Jordan 1, but decided not to continue after the landmark sneaker series had gone beyond 20 (it's now at Air Jordan 29), because he prefers old shoes.
"I am old-school in that aspect. I don't understand the advanced technology that shoe designers put in the new shoes ... my favourites are the classics, the Air Jordans 4, 6 and 11," he says.
The retro trend has been hot lately, and Poon is more than happy to see the classics making a comeback, despite some collectors condemning shoemakers for lack of creativity. "When I was young, I did not have the money to buy all the models that I liked. The retro models allow me to purchase the classic shoes that I missed out on when I was a kid," he says.
Poon's collection is diverse, because he does not focus only on basketball shoes. He won't hesitate to add tennis shoes, skateboard shoes, and running shoes as long as he thinks they look cool. "Some people like to just look at their collections. I like to look at them and wear them. I wear most of my collection," he says. "The only ones I don't touch are the limited editions, or the dead stock."
"Dead stock" are shoes that are no longer in production, but that doesn't make them any less popular. "Some of the classic shoes I have collected, they became dead stock over the years and their value has gone up," says Poon. "I have no plans to sell them but it feels great that you own something that is sought after by the market."
Poon keeps his shoes in his office where there is air-conditioning most of the time to keep them dry. Aside from this though, he doesn't do anything special to preserve his huge collection, which is only going to get bigger, as collecting sneakers will continue to be Poon's hobby.
"I think sneakers play an important role in the pop culture of Hong Kong - look at the sneakers street in Mong Kok," he says. "I think sneakers have become part of life for Hongkongers."