The Edit LDN interviews Mike Pairs, otherwise known as El Jefe. He is a self confessed sneaker head and the owner and the CEO of Pairs UK. Here he talks to The Edit LDN.For those who don’t know you, can you give our readers a little intro to who is Mike Pairs?
Sure thing! How’s it going people?! My name is Michael but most people call me Mike or most recently Pairs. I'll try and keep this as short as possible but I’m a sneaker head/collector of over seven years now, a photographer by hobby, a full time engineer by trade and entrepreneur by accident lol.
You have an incredible sneaker collection as we can see from your Instagram. How many pairs do you own and what’s your most grailed item?
Thanks a lot and well if I’m honest I stopped counting at the early part of the year but when I last checked I was at 250 pairs +, most of which being Nike and a large majority being Jordan 1’s as they are my favourite silhouette. This leads me to my most grailed pair, if I’m honest this question pops up almost weekly in my DM’s and my reply is always the same…I simply couldn’t pick! Each pair I have was obtained differently, have their own little story and personal attachment to me whether it was camping outside NikeLab London for days on end for the Vlone AF1’s or running from Holborn station to Selfridges London because of a train delay for the shock release of the Red Stripe Yeezy 350’s - each shoe has it's own story and for me that is what makes each pair mean that much more to me… but if I had to choose my most grailed silhouette I would defiantly be a Air Jordan 1, for it's sheer versatility and comfort that’s for sure!What’s been your favourite sneaker release this year and what’s the one you’re looking out for the most?
Everything I want and look for in a shoe was released this year. Not only that but in my grail silhouette and in my favourite colour too AND it has embroidery AND intricate details which I love and make sure is reflected through my own brand…this is a sore subject as I haven’t quite got over my Dior AJ1 L yet.
So my favourite sneaker this year would have to be the AJ1 Dior ‘High’ which also transpires to have had the worst release strategy ever, oh well onto the next one.
What is your opinion on the current state of the sneaker market?
It's never been a better/worse time to be a sneaker head/collector! We have some AMAZING collaborations that have surfaced over the past few months let alone the past few years! The scene has changed so much in the past five years from physically camping at a sneaker store with 30 other people for sometimes as little as 12hrs to ensure you cop that shoe you really really want! To now entering untold amounts of raffles from the comfort of your own space hoping for the best! I think it’s a lot more appealing now as you no longer need to put in as much time and effort to get the sneaker you want but with how easy it is to enter and the resell prices now driving the sneaker scene - it really is a double ended sword.
You set up Pairs – a premium brand selling patterned jogging bottoms. What was the inspiration behind this and what can you tell us about your brand?
I created my company at the end of 2019 for the love of my continuously growing sneaker collection in which I couldn’t find the perfect fitting bottoms to match. Either that or they had embarrassingly short pockets in a world of XL mobiles. This is where the birth of Pairs begun - me searching for fabrics that were unique and were a specific weight for the perfect fall, through trial and error, sample after sample. Designed by me, a sneaker head, for those who love the comfort of jogging bottoms but love attention to detail when it comes to tailoring and craftsmanship. I do not have the official qualifications of a designer, or the technical knowledge of fabrics but with my drive, determination and will to self teach myself, I have been able to master and excel in my craft.The inspiration stemmed from my sneaker community and the sneaker culture, something in which people didn’t and still don’t understand. Sneaker heads do not consider any gender, class, ethnicity, age or any other boundary to define themselves. It is their sneakers that carry all these features and this is how I envision the company. We want to be the bridge between the sneaker culture - a cultural playground where people, sneakers and luxury meet.
Pairs is a brand who prides itself in the perfect premium bottoms, most likely patterned and has been missing from your wardrobe with our unique and limited woven fabrics and top stitched seams with heavy metal cord ends. The Pairs are comfortable for everyday wear as well as special occasions/events. Embroidered with our signature ‘P’ and ‘Pairs’ logo and with deep pockets for our ever growing mobile phones, the perfect cuff that sits on your sneakers perfectly, what more could you want?
How did you find yourself becoming an influencer in the sneaker world?
I really don’t feel like an influencer at all… like, I’m literally just a guy from East London with a passion for sneakers and photography. The fact that people enjoy the stuff I create, put together and post, is an added bonus for me as rarely make money from Instagram through ads or collaborations. It really is a passion thing for me… when I left school at 17 and got my first wage, what I bought was not a pair of sneakers or a mobile phone but a Nikon D60 and I shot that little camera until the lens fell off.. I love photography, the sneakers came after and I found a way to blend the two… I dunno but honestly if your reading this and you see me as a influencer/influential person in the scene, thank you so much. I couldn’t have imagined this when I first started collecting.What can you tell us about your sense of style?
I would like to say my sense of style is comfortably yet classy, subtle but loud… effortlessly put together but still stylish, I suppose my main objective when getting ready is comfort, if its not comfortable I won’t wear it.
Looking at The Edit Man London website, what top three sneakers would you pick and why?
All Jordan 1’s because I would wear the heck out of them. These pairs I don’t own as yet; Dior High (*pictured below), Union “Storm-Blue” Aleali May “Shadow”.Virgil Abloh is doing a collaboration with Mercedes. What’s your take on this and what do you think about Nike "The Ten" collection?
Im excited to see what sort of creation they come up with, however it isn’t something I have been following. The 10 collection is amazing and I'm lucky enough to say I own all the pairs. I was after from the original 10, they don’t do too well against oxygen however the collection as a whole has got to be one of the best collaborations of our time.
Are you working on any exciting projects at the moment you’d like to tell us about and what’s next for your brand Pairs?
Oooo nothing I would like to share just yet! We have a few things in the pipeline coming over the next few months!
Finally, with all the fun we’ve all had with 2020, what can we expect to see from you in 2021?
I think everyone will agree 2020 hasn’t been much fun so far but pairs pairs and more PAIRS, from me and the company!