Instagram has changed the way the world is viewed, with that in mind it is now a digital reference for almost everything. Fashion is an ever-growing spectrum and with the help of such platforms, the rise in sneaker culture has become prominent in the modern day. Hunting down exclusive sneaker news, launches, early collaboration efforts and competitions, Instagram is also a stepping stone to the marketplace and a signifier for trends.

Touching on this is archival sneaker account, Trainer Spotting. Dedicated in showcasing a diverse range of intriguing imagery, the account presents snapshots of popular culture married with iconic sneakers. Started by footwear enthusiast, Sergey Velsin, the platform showcases photos taken of Iggy Pop, Robin Williams and Mike Tyson to name a few.

SEVENSTORE caught up with the brains behind the operation, Sergey Velsin to discover how his hobby has become an integral insight into the culture of sneakers, his favourite combinations and what’s next for the archive.

SEVENSTORE: Have you been a life-long sneaker fan, if so, what’s your earliest memory of sneakers?

Sergey: I got interested in sneakers in my school days in the late 1990's. I was into underground hip-hop and stuff, and sneakers were always a part of that culture. Watching films like “Beat Street” and “Style Wars” inspired my interest in retro models. 

SEVENSTORE: How did you come up with the initial idea for Trainer Spotting & what has the evolution been like?

Sergey: I’ve been working in sneaker/streetwear retail and accumulating these kind of images was one of the job’s side effects. Time to time I used them images in my work. At some point I decided to put all these images to some use because I realised I managed to collect a lot of quite rare stuff.

SEVENSTORE: Why do you think it has resonated with so many people?

Sergey: I would like to believe that everybody got a bit tired of modern sneaker hype and are now looking for something more authentic in archival projects like mine. Or people simply love old sneakers and familiar famous faces.

SEVENSTORE: Has Trainer Spotting become somewhat of a fulltime job? What does your general day look like?

Sergey: No, Trainer Spotting is still a small research side project, kind of a hobby for me.

SEVENSTORE: Is there a specific moment in time you look back to for inspiration and why? The 90’s crops up as a familiar one.

Sergey: The 1970's and early 1980's fascinate me because it was a time when sneaker design changed dramatically and hi-end athletic shoes became popular as everyday footwear. The 1990's is interesting too, especially how fashion media became aware of sneakers during that decade.

SEVENSTORE: Do you have certain sources you go to for images, if so, where?

Sergey: I got them literally everywhere, from Instagram and Tumblr to fashion forums, celebrities fan sites, vintage magazines, books…

SEVENSTORE: What is your favourite sneaker combination you’ve found so far and why?

Sergey: Iggy Pop and Nike Air Max 1 is my all-time favourite. 

SEVENSTORE: Throughout your searching is there a particular sneaker you have found somebody wearing in the archive that you’d love to own yourself?

Sergey: I’m not a collector, so frankly speaking I don’t have a great interest in owning sneakers. 

SEVENSTORE: What is your all-time grail sneaker?

Sergey: As soon as Trainer Spotting is a research project dedicated to all kinds of brands, I think it wouldn’t be fair to name favourites. And it would be impossible to name just one, anyways.

SEVERNSTORE: Are there any combinations you haven’t posted because you are unable to identify the sneakers?

Sergey:  Lots of them. Most part of my archive is still unidentified. Work in progress.

SEVENSTORE: Are there any sneaker combinations you weren’t expecting to see?

Sergey: I’m constantly surprised by weird combinations, that’s the fun part of working on this project. Like Leonard Cohen in Nike Air 180, or Kirk Douglas in Vans Cab 4, or Andy Warhol in New Balance 730, or David Hasselhoff in Adidas ZX 5000, to name a few.

SEVENSTORE: Sneaker culture has become huge in the past decade with more celebrities wearing their favourite brands and collaborations, why do you believe it’s become such a thing?

Sergey: I believe that popularity of everything (including sneakers) evolves in cycles. This cycle brought big fashion brands on board establishing some kind of connection between celebrity culture and sneaker culture. I guess it’s temporary.

SEVENSTORE: What would be your perfect celebrity/sneaker combination and why?

Sergey: (The same answer as in “Are there any sneaker combinations you weren’t expecting to see?”)


SEVENSTORE: Are there any plans other than an Instagram page? Potentially a printed publication or magazine? for Trainer Spotting?

Sergey: A book is always on my mind, but I don’t have any particular plans by now. It’s a tricky project to carry out without a big publisher support.