In the first part of the interview with Tobi or @hypetobs he talks about his love and passion for adidas and the German brand's sneakers. Even though the 28-year-old already has over 40,000 followers on Instagram, the app is just his hobby. Join us now to learn more about the down-to-earth collector, who lets us look behind the scenes of his collection and hobby.
Your Instagram account is already very professional, do you have in mind to make it even more so, to make Instagram your main job?
Two years ago I would have said no, because I thought that if I did it full-time, I would lose a bit of creativity or desire. That was my fear, because people insist on having to make money. This is my job now and I have to create content. In the meantime, I could imagine it better, because at the same time I would have more time to collect ideas.
It's a bit difficult, because I'm already noticing that collaborations and requests are piling up, which is maybe at the 40,000 mark. But as I said, I still have to see if I want to change that. Because I'm more the type to choose safety rather than risk. *laughs*
But as I said, I can imagine it now rather than in the last few years.
What would be a decisive argument for you to definitely do it?
I think probably a long-term cooperation or partnership. I am not someone who would give up his secure job and start with zero. Of course, you can't rest on the amount of a long-term partnership either, but you can build on it.
So far, I have to say, I haven't really approached partners explicitly to discuss a collaboration. I'm not currently looking for one and would have let it go for now.
The shootings with adidas were then also just like that or were they paid for?
Both. If it's the normal seeding packages [products that people get sent for free to promote on their channels], then of course the sneakers are the payment, as you know from other 'influencers'.
Campaigns, on the other hand, for example the Foot Locker Supercourt or Climacool campaigns, are already paid for and billed at cost.
Hobby, running, on the side - that always comes up. But have you been doing it for fun all along? I think it's so impressive that you've got such a following with "just look".
I really have to say that in the beginning it wasn't tangible at all. If you scrolled through Instagram at that time, there were individuals who did it (for example Christopher from Deadstock Sneakerblog or Sneakerb0b, the original ones) but not many who showed what they had.
At that time I thought I would try it out. It worked out quite well and was at the same time an exercise for my photography. Later I got my first camera, and then I upgraded directly to a new one with the first campaign. That's how I kind of took it to the next level, but again, it's still a hobby.
You just have to see how you can manage it. I'm glad that I have such a good employer and that I can have so much say in things. If I don't have an appointment, I can take an hour off in the afternoon when the weather is good and then just work a little longer in the evening.
What camera do you have?
The Sony Alpha 7 III.
Photography came first and then you combined it with Sneaker Passion?
I first had the passion and also my challenge to photograph with the mobile phone what others thought they could only capture well with the camera. Mobile phone cameras were getting better and better anyway, which is why I started my Instagram account with such photos.
It wasn't that noticeable because I always used portrait mode and thorough editing. Through my training, I was already quite fit with Photoshop, so for me it was just a gimmick. But when the first companies approached me, for example adidas at that time, I thought to myself, now I'm being sponsored by adidas or I'm getting shoes from them, then I can no longer continue to take photos with my mobile phone.
That was just such a barrier for me, which is why I bought the entry-level Sony, the A6000. I thought that was the best model at the time and I still think it's great when you want to buy a camera. It really lasted a long, long time until I treated myself to something bigger.
On your website you can find posters with sneakers as well as some from your travels. Do you still do that today or have the travel photos completely given way to those with sneakers?
When I'm travelling, I'm also passionate about photography. To be honest, the sneakers sometimes get left behind, simply because I concentrate on the holiday and try to capture a few scenes.
This year I was lucky enough to fly to Ibiza, which was another great experience. There, I neglected the sneakers a bit, although you might think to yourself, 'Yes, now I'm on holiday with great locations, you could already hold on to them'. Once I had a nice situation when my buddy was holding a sneaker, I didn't miss that.
But I don't post the holiday photos on the shoe account, but on my private account. For me, it's more like a documentation of my travels and I fill my friends' feeds with them.
So you didn't take any extra sneakers with you on holiday?
Of course I had some with me to wear and to coordinate the outfits and I was also there with a colleague from adidas who also had about four to five pairs with him. So you can take turns nicely, but we didn't focus much on shoe photography, but on relaxation and recreation.
How many pairs of shoes do you normally take with you on holiday?
So four to five pairs, with one or two pairs being Adiletten or Yeezy Slides, simply because of the comfort. I always say, a bit more stable shoes with more staying power - not a 4D that you walk in the sand once and then the sole is completely full.
How many shoes do you have in total?
There should be about 260 pairs. The last sample sale knocked a bit more in. *laughs*
How much are we talking about exactly?
I bought about 20 pairs in the last sale. But one of them cost about €20 and then I couldn't resist. I packed what I could find. That's why this month was a bit more expensive, which I didn't expect. But they are all still in a big bag and therefore not unpacked yet. Nevertheless, I've already photographed them and put them in the stories, but there's no room to tidy up just yet. *laughs* I have to clear out or buy new shelves first.
How would you describe your style?
Oh, a big mess. *laughs* I wear a lot of sporty stuff to work. Right now I'm wearing a plain Forum because of that, but I'm also one who likes to wear something fancy, like an Atmos ZX that has some hair and looks like a little furry mule.
You can't define my style. I would rather say I'm extremely into OG models, the first colours and models, those are my favourites and I look forward to classic adidas models: ZX, Forum (2021 is really a very good year for me), Ultraboost or EQTs. I can relate to all of them and I'm not a specific collector like maybe others.
Is the sporty component or the style decisive for you?
Style and innovation are probably the best words to describe it, with innovation going hand in hand with sport. Like the 4D, for example, I don't wear it mainly for sport, but because I also like it with classic jeans or chinos. I wear most sneakers for the style and because I like them for everyday wear.
Back to your Instagram again. How do you see yourself in the future, apart from doing it professionally?
I'm a collector and a passionate photographer, although I wouldn't call myself an influencer, even though that's the first label you get when you see that I have 40,000 followers.
I am far too little in the foreground for that. I mainly present the shoes. Of course you see me in the stories, but I'm not the centre of attention. There are many other accounts that do it much, much better in my opinion. I'm the type who prefers to stand behind the camera and focus on the products.
How do your friends, family and girlfriend see your passion?
At first it was a bit strange for my parents and my family. They asked what I was going to do with all the shoes, because I couldn't wear them all anyway. In the meantime, it has turned into 'interested'. When a package arrives, my parents immediately ask what I got today. I've also been able to get my family excited about Ultraboost because they've noticed how comfortable they are.
My girlfriend only met me like that, so she knew what she was getting into. When she came to see me for the first time and saw the sneakers, she accepted it. At the beginning it was already an issue, it's all about shoes. It also plays an important role in the long term, either I post something or I do a reel or implement other ideas. She also supports me in this, which makes me really happy and she is probably even the most enthusiastic follower. Because she's the one who writes to me in the morning when something has been done.
She is neither a collector nor a lover to that extent, but in the meantime she has already said that she has to buy a pair of adidas so that she doesn't always walk with Nike next to me. But that's not a problem for me, if she likes them, then she should wear them.
How much time do you spend on Instagram each week?
Hmmm, good question. I think it's settled down quite well by now. I try to take the photos in the evening or on Fridays. That also has a lot to do with my job, I finish work at two o'clock on Fridays. But of course it always varies. When I have an order or a new shoe comes in, I try to produce content for it very quickly. In a week, with editing and everything, it might be about ten hours that you put into it.
Shooting photos, taking reels, editing, planning and then of course not forgetting to push each other. Making stories, sharing friendly accounts and great photos and communicating with the community. That's also a point I've heard a lot now. Many people credit me for replying or sending them links.
For me, that is a matter of course. I am happy to help and also happy to answer questions.
Ten hours doesn't sound like much. Even considering the quality of your content - wow.
I think it's connected. Taking and editing photos takes about ten hours, the 'maintenance' is longer. I'll have to look into that.
Do you want to look it up for us?
Yes, of course! Last week I spent 14 hours on Instagram. On Saturdays and Sundays it's usually a bit less, because I'm often with my girlfriend. But during the week I scroll a lot in the evenings.
Do you have to limit yourself? There is no official end date because you do it as a hobby.
I listen to my inner gut feeling. There are days when I don't feel like it at all and I don't post anything, hardly any stories and I'm not around much. Then there are days when I feel like it and comment, like and post. It depends on my daily mood. When there's a lot going on at work, I don't feel like going on Instagram in the evening either.
You have already mentioned your community, which is very supportive. What else is there to tell?
When some people ask me, how did you manage to get 40,000 followers? It takes a lot of time that no one sees in the end. Simply because you coordinate a lot with people, write, talk. Many people know me at adidas, too, which was quite surprising at the beginning. I came into the office once because I was visiting a friend. He said they all knew me, some even had sneaker posters of me on their walls. That made me very happy.
Communication is simply crucial, I comment a lot, react to stories and that's how I made all the connections and that's how the one or other cooperation or the one or other beer came about. That's how you stay in touch. *winks*
Thank you Tobi for your openness and authenticity. Take a look at his Instagram @hypetobs.