If you ask me, there’s two types of collectors. Those with unlimited budget who can acquire just about anything without bothering about expenses and those who have to be creative and utterly dedicated to build a worthy collection over the years. Andre Ljustana aka CroatianStyle belongs to the latter category. Born and raised in a family of Croatian descent, he grew up and still lives in Los Angeles, Hawthorne to be exact. Over the past 16 years, he has amassed a collection of sneakers worth several million dollars. When asked what he did before that, he couldn’t really tell, that’s how long he’s been in the game. In Primary School, young Andre was already exchanging kicks with his pals just for fun and so as to not having to wear the same pair day in day out. In an era where everybody can call themselves a “Sneakerhead”, partially due to the rise of the Internet and Social Media, we wanted to find out how things were back in the day, in the years ’00 when all you had to get in touch were forums (Nikepark, Niketalk…) and AOL Instant Messenger. His expo “RETROspective” at the Known gallery on Fairfax was the perfect occasion to ask Andre a few questions. His answers might come as a surprise for some.
Be Street: Over 3000 pairs gathered in 16 years… Do you remember the day it all started?
Andre: Wow 16 years… I can’t be that old now, right? Yes I remember the day crystal clear. Honestly I was always into shoes, we borrowed each others shoes when we were in elementary and middle school so we could wear more than just our own. We would try to get different colors of models. Never in a million years did the idea of keeping pairs brand new (deadstock) ever cross my mind during my teenage years. After the AJ 14’s came out, I was out at college and didn’t care for them as much. The white/red were cool but I felt they didn’t have enough red on them and feeling the new Jordans after that would never be the same, I just stuck to other styles and the pairs I still had from before. Then one day, I came back from a trip to Europe to visit the family in Croatia late ’99, my boy Jae told me he was at the mall and the Jordan 5 were coming back out again and I was immediately back on again, that damn pair I gave up for the first Reebok Pump, I could finally get it and the white/fire reds! Went over to a local shop I always shopped at since I was a kid and they had the retro card for the AJ 4s showing me the 5s coming and then I asked wait… this is a IV card? Where’s the IVs then? And that’s where it started… while I was out in Europe, the IVs dropped, I needed both especially the white/cement… me and my dude scoured everywhere: Mom & Pops, malls, swap meets from Compton to San Diego… couldn’t find a damn size 10 anywhere… other sizes but not mine and that’s where I found eBay, Nikepark, Niketalk… and the rest is history.
To read the full interview please visit www.be-street.com