Interview: Marcel Holzmann
NB’s upon NB’s upon NB’s, Marcel Holzmann keeps us intrigued with his collection of over 100 vintage, hard-to-find, and custom New Balances. Looking at his collection you might find yourself saying, where did he find those? Located in Germany, Marcel chops it up with Those NB’s about knowing your New Balance history, why the passion is missing in today’s shoe game and why he wants to create a 997 retro with a 997 midsole.
What is your take on the sneaker culture today?
As I am seeing myself still as a newbie, I don’t know much about the past culture. When I first started to buy more and more sneakers I could buy for example, the M1500BFR ‘Blackbeards’ easily from Crooked Tongues probably half year after it was released. There was no hype on New Balance at that time. I also bought many other NB’s easily from retail stores. Nowadays the culture is growing as well as New Balance popularity. Which causes ridiculous prices increases and making it almost impossible to get a new release without sitting for hours in front of your computer trying to get on to a webpage when a shop is releasing their shoe. I try to get my shoes from a friends hook-up first because I am tired of sitting for hours in front of my computer and pressing “F5″.
I don’t care about the damn hype. I buy shoes because I like them, no matter if they are a general release or a collabo. Currently it’s not really difficult to get a general release shoe but every Collabo no matter if the shoe is total shit, is hyped and you can see the shoes on ebay for 350€ (about $450 US) or much more one day after a release. Which makes me really disappointed, many newer sneaker guys are only hunting ‘limited’ shoes. They don’t have any knowledge about vintage or just older shoes and the brand itself. And they are not interested in it! It seems more important today to wear Yeezys or a Ronnie Fieg shoe for hundreds of Euros. The most funny thing is, that I receive lots of emails on vintage New Balance shoes like the NB’s from the 80′s, where people ask me which store they could buy them! You could even see from my pics that they are OLD!! Old glue stains, the yellowed midsoles, etc. The passion is missing today, which is the key!
What’s your favorite New Balance drop this year? Why?
Hmm, that is difficult. I normally wait until the end of the year to answer this question but at the moment I would say the newer M1500CHF from Hanon. I am excited that New Balance is stepping in the right direction, to change the shape, material quality and cutting. The Hanons are really great but the cutting of the mudguard and toebox is still pretty bad looking on my older 1500′s. But I am still waiting and hoping for a great 997 retro with a 997 midsole. That would always be my favorite New Balance drop.
What do you feel is the most important part of a New Balance runner? Why?
Currently the midsole gluing and shape. The materials are normally still great but lately New Balance has not been on point with some of the material quality and shapes. I believe quantity over quality! Hopefully New Balance will reanalyze it and get back to quality over quantity – hopefully!
What do you see NB doing differently than other brands?
I started to buy New Balance because of the material quality, shape, colorways and models. I loved the difference from Nike, Adidas and Puma because they are all ‘major’ brands and New Balance was not. I wanted something different with great quality. But it changed, New Balance is a major brand now. New Balance is doing almost too much nowadays. Too many shoes within one year and too many collabos. I can totally understand that they are growing and they want to make profit but less is more!
What is your favorite retail store to shop at? Physical and Online? Why?
I support my local shoe dealers like ‘Amen’ in Munich, ‘Solebox’ Berlin and ‘Asphaltgold’ Darmstadt. I also like the UK sites like ‘Hanon’ and ‘Crookedtongues’. Too many shops from different countries I could mention. I don’t really have a favorite shop.
How many New Balances do you have in your collection? and What’s the most expensive / rarest one in your collection?
I have to count them again, but probably about 150 – 170 New Balance shoes. For the money I paid for my resoled M1500CT, BG and PW, I think those were the most expensive ones. But I have some NB’s for which I would probably get more money than my resoled 1500′s. I resoled them because I want to wear them, so the sentimental value is higher than the money. My rarest New Balance is my M444 Burgundy CW. But I have a few rare NB’s. Unfortunately it’s super hard to find older NB’s in your size and a good condition. But I love to hunt for them, haha.
Which release do you like better US, UK or Asia?
Definitely US and UK. But I also love the old NB’s made in Korea! The soles are all made in Japan normally, no matter if it’s a US, UK or JP release. I just don’t like the Japanese versions of the 1500′s because the quality is often really bad and the shape is more bulky than the US or UK made ones. But I have heard the reason might be that my Asian New Balance friends like a more bulkier shape.
If you had a chance to customize your own New Balance which model would it be and why?
If they would exist as a retro, definitely 997 retro if they would use the OG midsole and shape. Currently, because of the shape, I would love to customize a 996. The US made NB’s are much better than the UK made NB’s at the moment. Don’t know why but New Balance UK has more problems with the shape. But I would also love to customize a 670, 577 or 576 if the shape were like the older NB’s or maybe a US made 670, 577 or 576. That would be a nice idea.
What camera do you use to take your images? How long have you been shooting?
Over the last 4 years I have been using a Nikon D40, with the basic lense of 18-55mm. After a while of shooting, I borrowed two lenses from a workmate, a 50mm 1.2 and 20mm 2.8. But both are manual lenses so it was pretty hard for me to get images focused and sharp. I bought a Nikon D7000 about two or three weeks ago and two new lenses with autofocus because I had to give the lenses back to my workmate. I now have a 30mm 1.4 and 50mm 1.4. I love the difference of both lenses. Ahh, and I also bought a remote which makes things easier! After work I shoot about 15min to 30min but on the weekends I sometimes spend about 1 hour or more shooting. In the winter time everything has to be done faster though, haha.
Any last thoughts or comments on New Balance you want to leave us with?
New Balance should think about their current projects. The most important thing is to bring back a 997 retro with a 997 midsole. Get rid of the 998 midsole! I am hoping that they will change the shape of all current (UK) NB’s, especially 1500, 670, 577 and 576! The Hanon M1500CHF looks like a step in the right direction, so my hope grows!