Big C and the Shoeseum

Whenever you sit down and speak with a sneakerhead they will more then likely they always know someone that has a crazy collection of sneakers for one reason or another. When we started doing these interviews for Sole Theory that was a common theme, but it is not often when people from 2 different worlds mention the same person. This happened when we posed the question to Patrice and DJ Grouch as to who they thought had a crazy sneaker collection…they both answered Big C. Patrice took it one step further and told us that we needed to see his “Shoeseum”…WHAT?!?!

So who is Big C? Well Big C whose real name is Craig Mannix is a very well known person in the Toronto region. To try and sum up what Craig has helped to do for the hip-hop music and the urban clothing industry through marketing and so on in Toronto or Canada in general in this article would be highly disrespectful! So, if you love what you see in Canada today in regards to hip-hop and urban culture, the next time you see him just say thanks! It is because of people like him you are enjoying what we now take for granted daily!

Why does everyone make special mention of Big C? Well…he wears a size 15! For the sneakerheads out there we all know that the sizes between 8 and 11 are usually the first ones gone when you are looking for that special sneaker, but who would even think that they make a lot of sneakers in size 15? You can’t just walk into your local Foot Locker or Champs and ask for the Nike Air Jordan IVs in size 15…that’s just not happening. So the question was where does he get his sneakers? How was he able to find sneakers that you can’t even find in the more common sizes?

Luckily for us Big C took time out of his hectic schedule to sit down and let us pick his brain on his views on sneakers and the culture that surrounds it. For all the sneakerheads out there this is one of the most interesting and opinionated interviews I’ve seen. This is because he has met most of the people we talk about and gone to the places that we think about when it comes to sneaker culture…


What made you start collecting sneakers?

When I was a kid the first pair of shoes that I actually saved up for and worked for were a pair of Ralph Sampson suede low cut Pumas.

How long ago was this?

This was…wow…well the fact that I mentioned Ralph Sampson who was a collegiate superstar that was sort of a professional bust. So, we’re talking the 80s…we’re talking the mid 80s.

Seeing that you’ve been in the industry for many years, which artist or person in the industry would you say had the best sneaker game that you have seen personally?

Fat Joe…Fat Joe, like for shear volume plus he has some rarities and stuff. So, yeah I would probably say him for sure!

So Fat Joe is THAT dude I guess then…?

Yeah he is, but although he does go deep into the (Nike) Air Force 1s and s%$#, which is a New York, Philly, East Coast thing. I mean I find now that I would be very hard pressed to put an (Nike) Air Force 1 on my foot.

Because everybody has them…

And I have some (Nike) Air Force 1s that I know would really fly some people’s heads, but I don’t…maybe I may go back to wearing them again, but I just don’t see myself wearing them again.

I see that you have a lot of gems (sneakers) in your collections, seeing that you wear a size 15 where does someone like you go when they are looking for their sneakers?

I don’t really go anywhere to be honest. People just know me and so do the shoe companies. I have been fortunate because I have been around for a while and I know people in different places and stuff. And also the stores…RIP Goodfoot…I mean those guys used to look out for me, they would tell me what’s on the books! They let me know about stuff I didn’t even know about and get me stuff.

I mean I have Y3 sneakers from Nomad…Y3 Ostrich White low cut sneakers and when I say Ostrich, I mean Ostrich skin sneakers. You know what I mean? In a size 15! I think it’s like if you’re determined you can find stuff and I find a lot of people at the companies and even at the shoe stores want to find a 15 because they can’t believe it. They’re like “you got a Raygun Dunk in a 15…you got a Mission Dunk in 15 I mean they can’t even believe you got the Yeezys in 15!” They think that’s crazy right! So, it kind of works out for you too because they’re like “it’s a 15!” (starts laughing) “Someone actually wears that!”

So the sheer wow factor that sneakers are made that big is what helps you out!

Right, I mean to me it’s just natural…I mean I don’t understand why…as I kid I could understand. Trying to get a size 15 shoe as a kid was hard, I mean I was only able to get like one pair of shoes a year because of it. Even when I started working and buying myself sneakers I remember I got the first Flights, they were white with blue piping and the eyelets were made out of plastic, which I remember ended up popping (starts laughing). I remember taking those shoes back, but when those shoes came out they were like $200! I remember working and saving up a couple paychecks to get them. And I got them from Sporting Life of all places.

It was from that experience I quickly learned things like when I’m travelling to see if there is an outlet out there. Especially when I go to the US and you ask them for a size 15 they are like “Oh sure here is our size 14 and 15 section right here.” I’m like WOW. In Toronto, when you ask for a size 15 they always come out with a white low cut Nike Air Force One and you’re like “Thank you…great!” (Rolls his eyes)

So you did what you had to do?

Yeah, I always knew that keeping them was something to do.  As a kid when I was into something I was really into it! I couldn’t afford sneakers as a kid, but I used to collect comic books and even back then I knew to buy 2 copies. I would buy one copy to read and the other copy would be bagged and boarded…

And you would save them for a brighter day right?

Well a brighter day never came because my mom gave away all my comics! But, that’s a different interview at a different time…I love my mother and lets not talk about that. So lets move on…(starts laughing)

I WILL NEVER WEAR LUGZ! Are you kidding me?!?!

So when you buy a sneaker what do you look for in it?

Gotta be something that relates to me. Something that I like…I mean back in the day when you bought sneakers it was to look fly. So it was more a matching type thing where you buy them to match this or that…like “I got these and they will match with my this” you know what I mean? And then when I really started to get into sneakers and learn about sneaker culture it was like the type of sneaker. But at the same time there are people out there that only identify with one sneaker. You will have a guy that will just buy (Nike) Air Force 1s or others will just buy Js (Nike Air Jordans), there are so many Jordan heads out there.

That’s almost like a subculture in itself…

It is within sneaker culture. You know, my ultimate shoe is the (Nike Air) Jordan III and I know that it is the one sneaker that I will purchase whenever it is re-issued and I can find a (size) 15. The (Nike Air) Jordan I, III, IV and V if I pass them or find them in my size more then likely I will take them.

So the classic Jordans are the ones that you prefer?

Yeah…

Do you care if it has the Jumpman on the back or the Nike Air…which one do you prefer?

I have an old pair of (Nike Air) Jordan IIIs floating around; I think they are still in the box somewhere that have the “Nike Air” on the back of them.  That was the last year; I don’t even know how old those shoes are. That would make them from what like the mid 90s or something like that right? And they are not worth wearing anywhere, but I kept them because…I guess for nostalgic reasons or just to tell anyone in their 20s that the Jordans had “Nike Air” on the back of them. (Starts laughing)

It came with a key chain too!

Yeah it came with a dope key chain. I actually think that I have a key chain around here somewhere too. I mean now it’s about what is stylish and what speaks to me…I mean lately I have been wearing a package that came out a couple years ago that very few people knew about called “Considereds”…”Nike Considereds”. They are made out of all recycled materials…the box and whatever. It looks more like a desert boot, but I decided to wear it because it fit what I was wearing and you weren’t going to see anybody wearing “Considereds”…

Especially in a size 15!

Yeah…especially in a size 15, it’s just not going to happen! But, my style has changed…especially with age. I mean it evolves…I can’t see myself wearing a pair of (Nike) Air Force 1 Easter Eggs…which I have. They are pastel blue, pink and white.

You have to save those for the next time that you go to Miami!

Or something like that! I mean it’s just not…what am I going to do pull those out and put on a pair of f%$#)@*+ three quarter Enyce jean shorts? (Starts laughing) I mean come on man! Like there’s no swag in that! That’s like “old guy hates hip-hop!” That’s…WOW! I mean at this point you are now someone’s uncle! But will I get rid of them? HELL NO…because they mean something to me.

When it comes to branding and marketing which company do you think does the best job?

Nike…

That’s it?

(Shrugs his shoulders and laughs) I mean others have done some really cool stuff here and there…shown some moments of brilliance, but let’s keep it very real! Yes, 90% of my shoes are Nike shoes, but aside from that and I’m being extremely objective here…I mean look just LOOK! Even if you’re a guy that only wears Adidas…if you’re an Adidas head you cannot deny it. I mean it’s like they say “You have to give Jack his jacket!”. You cannot deny it…you know what I mean? Let’s just look at the most recent thing that they did, which was take over action sport. Like in 10 years they took it!

What is your favourite sneaker campaign? Or what was your favourite sneaker campaign?

I know when I say this people are going to say “You’re just saying this because you were there or you’re old or whatever…” BUT the Jordan, Mars Blackmon, Spike Lee S*&%! To me is the most iconic campaign that Nike has ever done! And it tied in so much at a time that you know…the stuff that Jordan, Nike and Spike Lee were doing…it seemed so natural. Now you look at campaigns they’re not natural. You know…you know you’re being sold! Although some of them are entertaining. I like the new Kobe campaign; it’s pretty cool…not a fan of the guy himself, but the campaign is cool.

Is it because it ties into the music, culture and the subculture of hip-hop and things of that nature?

It does tie into the music; the culture…I mean Nike has prime real estate in Spike Lee’s greatest film. Like…PRIME! There has never been a product placement in film. I mean product placement in film now is just so stupid…it’s just so obvious! It’s like “Why is that guy walking around with that can of Dr. Pepper?” or “Why did she specifically ask for that product by name and not just ask for a coffee?” It’s just obvious.  But, that scene with the dude…(starts laughing)…when the dude with the bird jerk seat steps on other dude’s shoes! The (Nike Air) Jordan IVs with the speckle…I mean come on man! SERIOUSLY! That’s classic material right there. That to me is amazing…that Jordan and Nike stuff…amazing! But don’t get me wrong there have been some other campaigns from other companies that have been really cool too.

But that one is the highlight in your mind though?

Yeah in my mind!

So, other than Nike is there any other Sneaker Company that you think you could help with their branding?

Umm…Adidas. I mean the Originals…if they keep cranking out those silhouettes they will be ok in the Originals. But, it’s really about developing new stuff and they are really doing well in skate. Adidas has really starting doing well in that market…their team is credible and proper and I tip my hat to the way they entered that market.

Well it was literally a market that was untapped by the big box sneaker brands…

Well of course, it wasn’t until Nike kicked down that door with the SB brand. I mean even look at Supra now! But, look what Nike did with the SB. When they came in with the SB the skate community was not feeling it. But, they kept at it and kept at it…signed the right riders and now SB is credible. They are now a credible brand…they have broken through.

What is your favourite reference to sneakers in hip-hop music?

(Looks up at the ceiling) That’s not easy for me! I don’t know because to be honest with you most of the sneaker hip-hop songs are corny.

It doesn’t have to be a song it could be a line or something like that…

Ummmmm…I don’t know man…I just don’t know!

You think you’re going to take a pass on that one?

(Laughs) Yeah man!

Through your travels around the world, where have you seen the best sneaker culture?

Different strokes for different folks! Like I’ve been to New York during different eras where it has always been about (Nike) Air Force 1s. I’ve seen that culture, I’ve seen through the whole sneaker collecting culture when is started getting deep and stuff like that…Ummm…I’ve been to LA (Los Angeles) and seen that (Nike) Cortez culture first hand. I’ve been in the stores myself and seen it! I mean you walk into the hood in LA and you’re seeing (Nike) Cortez that you didn’t even know existed. Out here you go into a store in our parts of the city and what colours do you see? White, grey and black! Right? Out there you have all sorts of crazy s$%#! Whether or not (Nike) Cortez is your shoe or not is something different, but you get to see the whole subculture to a region.

Have seen anything else outside of North America?

I’ve been to the UK (United Kingdom) where they’re not even about sneakers they’re all about your “trainers” (says it in a British accent). Out there they are all about their Adidas. Umm…it’s very much Adidas there and if they’re going to go Nike it’s (Nike Air) Max. They have an Air Max culture and France kind of mirrors that. You know what I mean? It’s funny and I bet you because I’ve been to Nike Town in London (UK) and I’ve gotten dope Js (Nike Air Jordans)…I mean I got a pair of Js (Nike Air Jordans) in London and it was funny because A. it was a size 15 and B. the guy working there said that only people that play basketball came there to by them. (Starts laughing) It’s not a shoe for them…you know what I mean?

Seeing that you were in the clothing industry some time ago…would you say that the clothing completes the sneaker or does the sneaker complete the outfit?

For me it’s changed…but if you are a sneakerhead, which I once was for many many years, you would grab your shoes and then look for an outfit to go with it. So it was from the shoes up. For me now it is what goes with what I’m wearing.

So now you go for the outfit and then the shoes?

Exactly!

What sneaker would you not be caught dead in?

Ummm…(begins to go into deep thought)…that new (Nike) Air Force 1 that they came out with for the 25th anniversary.

The one with the clear sole?

Yeah! I don’t like that shoe. Why mess with perfection? Right? I’m highly against that! There are numerous Reebok shoes I would never be seen in. I have 2 pairs of Reeboks, one of which is a black on black classic Pump. I mean I don’t know when I would wear it, but it is black on black so maybe I will wear it…I don’t know because it is a lot of shoe. What else wouldn’t I wear…?

I mean a lot of people say things like Lugz…

I WILL NEVER WEAR LUGZ! Are you kidding me?!?! Oh sorry…Team Jordan! You will never see me in a pair of Team Jordans! NEVER! I don’t believe in it…I don’t believe in Team Jordan! If (North) Carolina is a Team Jordan team make baby blue (Nike Air Jordan) IIIs, IVs put them on them and let them play in them! Like this Team Jordan stuff I just can’t get with. To be honest for the teams…fine! But, not for commercial use…not for commercial use man! It’s like if you’re going to play ball and you don’t want to spend the big money for a Kobe then or the Lebron then get a Team Jordan and go ball! But they are not for commercial use…don’t be buying them and f@#$%^& like you’re rocking a pair of fresh (Nike Air Jordan) IIIs or IVs out the box or XIs or IXs are your thing. Come on…like when they come up to you and they are like “I got some Jordans boy…” You’re like “no you don’t!”

And the hybrid stuff…(puts his dead down)…the hybrid stuff is an abomination man! This hybrid stuff is like that movie with Adrian Brody…with that genetic creature they made…

Splice!

SPLICE!!! Nothing good can come from splicing man! That’s why genetic research is illegal in many many many countries around the world man! You don’t mess with it man…you just thank Tinker (Hatfield) for all the great work that he’s done and thank him for what he has given you and call it a day!


I would like to take the time to thank Craig Mannix aka Big C for sharing his sneaker knowledge, collection and experience with us. As you can see he has been around for a while and with that has seen things that many of us would never know about. I mean when is the last time have you heard the name Ralph Sampson in regards to sports much less sneakers?!?! I’m not going to lie…I had to look that one up! LOL

It is one thing to have a sneaker collection…but when it is in size 15 it will really blow you away!

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About Sole Theory

Sole Theory is a sneaker lifestyle guide that explores the social impact of the sneaker culture. Users can expect to gain insight on recent trends, historic brands and signature styles that have heavily influenced the shoe industry. Content will be driven by articles, interviews and reviews that will uncover interesting facts and stories that have rarely been told.