YouTube Star sWooZie on His $6,000 Shoes and the Timberlands He Won’t Let Go

swoozie, adande thorne, youtube, lace up
sWooZie at YouTube star Lilly Singh's world premiere of "A Trip to Unicorn Island," Hollywood, Calif., in February 2016.
Rex Shutterstock

Comedian and writer sWooZie boasts more than 5.2M followers on his YouTube page, which recently landed him the gig of hosting the YouTube Red series “Lace Up: The Ultimate Sneaker Challenge.”

The e-personality spoke to Footwear News about why he spent $6,000 for one pair of shoes and how his affinity for sneakers lent him his trademark nickname.

swoozie, adande thorne, youtube, lace up sneaker series YouTube personality sWooZie has more than 5.2 million followers. Courtesy of sWooZie

Would you consider yourself a sneakerhead or just someone who likes shoes?

“Definitely sneakerhead. I haven’t been a huge fan of [the term] … I feel like it numbs it a little bit. I have 70 plus shoes in my closet on both coasts — East and West. I’m sure there’s over 100, but I’m trying to be modest about it.”

Most Expensive Pair?

“The ‘Back to the Future’ [Nike Air Mags]. I spent $6,000, but now they are already up to like $24,000.”

Least Expensive Pair?

“I recently bought flip-flops from President [Flip Flops]. Basically, every time Donald Trump contradicts himself, they make flip-flops with his Twitter [comments]. Those were maybe $20.”

president flip flops, donald trump, twitter sWoozie’s least expensive shoes have been a pair from President Flip Flop, which creates shoes based on Donald Trump’s contradictory tweets. Courtesy of President Flip Flops

Where does your interest in shoes come from?

“In the 6th grade, kids would show up with the new Jordans and I’m like, ‘Oh my God, I didn’t even know those were out,’ but they’re here, and I’m seeing them on feet, and it’s like, ‘I want that.’ So when I go to my parents, like, ‘I want these Jordans,’ no is the first thing out of their mouth. That whole dichotomy of me wanting them so bad and me never being able to get a pair, I think made me want to really get into shoes even more.”

How would you describe your style?

“I like modern. I like wearing things I don’t see people wear. I do most of my shopping in London or the U.K.”

What kind of shoes do you wear on a regular basis?

“The stuff that’s easy to grab I don’t gravitate towards. I think I just have expensive taste. If I walk by a window and see some shoes and I’m like, ‘Oh my gosh, I’ve never seen those but I want them,’ it’ll probably start around $1,000. That’s usually how it goes.

“Also, I don’t see the sense in spending $1,000 on shoes that aren’t attention-grabbing. For example, a lot of my friends buy the Gucci and Prada sneakers that are so basic but they have the medusa head on it, and [so they] spend $1,500. You will never catch me doing that! If they have a medusa head on my shoes, please believe they are going to be sick … at least have pink bedazzles on it.”

swoozie, adande thorne, youtube, lace up sneaker series sWooZie sports the Air Mag Back to the Future sneakers at the Teen Choice Awards in L.A. in August 2017 Rex Shutterstock

What is your favorite pair of sneakers out right now?

“Definitely the Air Mag ‘Back to the Future’ ones. I even got the name ‘sWooZie’ in part because of those shoes. When I really started falling in love with shoes, I would wear a lot of Nike. And my friends started calling me Nike boy because of all the apparel I would wear and the shoes. And that kind of evolved into ‘Swoosh’ and then Swoosh evolved into ‘sWooZie,’ and that all started with the love for the Air Mag long before they were for sale. When I saw ‘Back to the Future’ as a 10-year-old, I said, ‘I don’t care what has to happen, I don’t care the price tag. When those shoes drop, I will find a way.’”

Are you coveting any shoes right now?

“Nike just released these new Jordans that are black and pink, so I had a powwow with my friends like, ‘Guys, I kind of want these shoes, are they hot or not?’ and it was unanimous. All of my friends were like, ‘Do not do it! These are ugly!’ I was coveting those a little bit, but now it’s kind of like eh.

“Now it’s the Air Uptempos, a specific colorway — white and North Carolina blue. I have all the Nike apps and notifications on, so whenever they announce a pair I’m just waiting.”

air jordan 12, retro, deadly pink, black The Air Jordan 12 GS featuring black and a “Deadly Pink” sole. Courtesy of Flight Club

Who inspires your style?  

“Not a lot of celebrities, usually just people on the street. When I go to London, the stuff that they do with their shoes is crazy! I never would have thought to lace my Air Force 1s backwards. Instead of lacing them across the tongue, they lace them across the back.”

Where are your favorite places to shop?

“River Island. The Sting is mandatory. Westfield Mall has so many things over there that we don’t have here. As far as North America, Flight Club — I feel even basic saying that. Holy Grail in downtown L.A.”

How do you dress for a date?

“I’ll glance at the girl’s Instagram and see if she’s posting any guys that she’s into, like, ‘Oh my God, David Beckham.’ OK, David Beckham usually cleans up really nice and is really sharp — I got you! Whenever I want to clean up, I go with the Chelsea boots [from places like] OSO, Topman [and] The Sting in London.”

swoozie, adande thorne, youtube, lace up sneaker series sWooZie wears chelsea boots on the red carpet at the “Demi Lovato: Simply Complicated” film premiere, L.A., October 2017 Rex Shutterstock

Is there something in your closet that you’ll never get rid of?

“I’m big on not becoming too materialistic, so in order to do that, I have to be able to let go of anything at any time, especially with shoes. [So] as far as stuff I can’t let go, I would say only one pair. When I first [got] into entertainment in 2005, I wore Timberlands to a competition on DirecTV, and they saw and sent me this [‘Boroughs Project’] shoe. They got an artist from each borough in New York to design a pair. They are rapid-print, black, white and red checked Timberlands. Whenever I put them on, I stop traffic.”

Dream shoe collaboration?

“I would love to work with Adidas at some point, but I would only do that as a fallback if Nike was never willing to play ball only because of the deep roots that the brand has with my brand. I get Nike.”

swoozie, adande thorne, youtube, timberland, boroughs project Timberland’s “Boroughs Project” boot. Courtesy of sWooZie

How has it been to host the YouTube Red series, “Lace Up: The Ultimate Sneaker Challenge”?

“I would say out of anything in life that has ever changed my fashion or style, the show definitely has. I was surrounded by design kids all day for two and half months, so to hear them talk about the medial side, the lateral side, the lacing system and then get a pair of shoes and instantly rip out the laces and put a pair of new laces in — I never thought to instantly do that. They will go and paint things by hand and cut things up with their scissors. After hanging out with these guys, my whole color blocking when it comes to outfits completely changed.”

Watch the first episode of “Lace Up: The Ultimate Sneaker Challenge,” below: