Pint Anupong was rocking a pristine pair of gold Nike Air Max sneakers, a black "Carnival" coach jacket, and a gold necklace when I met him in a back alley of Bangkok's shopping and entertainment mecca Siam Square.
The district, a warren of tiny alleys, fast fashion, and K-Pop blaring video screens, is an eclectic marketplace for Thailand's young and hip — a stone's throw from the grown-up glitz of the Siam Paragon mall. It's the perfect location for Carnival, a shop dedicated to what's been a decade-long obsession for the shop's owner: sneakers.
"Sneakers are timeless," Pint told me. "They're not like other fashionable items like leather shoes. Sneakers have been around for 100 years and they're for everyone. Anyone can wear them."
At Carnival, a neon sign reading "Coffee and Kicks," hangs in the shop's front window. Inside, the store is tastefully minimalist, a shop where colorful sneakers are displayed like pieces of art against a white brick wall. The Siam Square location is now just one of five in Bangkok.
Pint founded Carnival Converse in 2010 with some friends after realizing that he had a serious sneaker obsession. The store used to be just a small shop in Siam Square that only sold Converse shoes. Since then, it has spread its wings and turned into a major destination offering limited-edition Nikes. Carnival, as it's known today, started its own clothing label in 2012, offering up more suitable streetwear for Thai "hypebeasts" at the time.
"I used to like matching shoes with fashion, then I realized about 10 years ago that I was obsessed with sneakers," said Pint, the soft-spoken brand director that was born and bred in Bangkok.
Today he has over 300 pairs of sneakers, enough to allow the 35-year-old to color coordinate his shoes with the rest of his outfit on any given day. He doesn't have a favorite, but some sneakers do have their own stories, he told me. His shop sold the Converse All Star "Mamafaka" limited editions, a pair designed by the famed Thai graphic designer and street artist Pharuephon Mukdasanit. Those kicks had a resurgence in popularity when Pharuephon, who made art as Mamafaka, tragically died in a surfing accident in Phuket.
When it comes to running, Pint prefers his Nike LunarEpic Flyknit running shoes. He typically runs the streets near his shop in Siam Square, weaving between shoppers and motorbikes in a loop of the commercial center. Other times, Pint heads out to the National Stadium, which is only a few short blocks away.
"I often run around the National Stadium, which is only like five minutes from here, because it's the opposite from where I live," he said. "A lot of people run over there."
But not every pair of sneakers is for running. Pint also owns a super rare pair of Converse Fragments signed by Hiroshi Fujiwara himself and a 25,000 Thai Baht pair of the Nike Vapormax "Comme des Garçons" limited editions.
The Comme des Garçons limited editions are the most expensive pair in Pint's closet. But his shop also sells other limited Nike—kicks that are coveted by the sneakerheads who line up for hours outside his shops.
"Every model has its own story and background," he said. "I`m always most impressed with the ones people queue up to buy."