For Jay-Z, it’s watches; for Leonardo DiCaprio, it’s twenty-something girlfriends; and for Napoleon, it was countries. As long as there have been things to collect, men have sought to do so.

Stylish guys are no different. In fact, some of the most impressive collections in the world hang inside (and overflow out of) men’s wardrobes. We’re thinking of mountains of sneakers that would tower over a double-decker bus or ties so valuable they could secure a small house.

From horological hoarders to streetwear savants, here the most prominent menswear enthusiasts showcase their collections. And not a dusty stamp or Beanie Baby in sight.

The Sneaker Collector

Kish Kash

Sneakers were once just comfortable footwear that stopped you getting into nightclubs. Today, they’re a $55bn (£40bn) dollar industry, with around a billion of that dedicated solely (geddit?) to the resale market. This isn’t just a hype machine. It’s an economy, and not a minor one.

But while some collectors hoover up the latest drops and camp out to get their hands on something their feet will never be allowed to wear, others just do it for the love. In the latter camp is London DJ Kish Kash. Here he explains how and why he became a sneaker connoisseur.

Sneakers Kish Kash

FashionBeans: How did you get started collecting sneakers?
Kish Kash: Although I own around 2,000 pairs, I never set out to build a ‘collection’. When I started buying sneakers it was simpler times, it wasn’t like it is today with the relentless drops and sneakerheads queuing around for hours – it was just you wanted to look fresh, you saw a pair you liked and you bought them.

I was massively into hip-hop and football terrace culture, which is what spurred the whole movement, so that’s probably what led to me having so many.

What do you love about them?
For some people collecting sneakers now, a lot of it is about making an investment. They’ll buy two pairs: one to wear and one to wrap up and store. For me, it’s just about having an appreciation of aesthetics and remembering what each pair represents from the time I bought them. I love the whole culture of it as well.

The long-term goal is to set up a museum where I can showcase my sneakers, records, clothes, football stuff, and how it all ties together.

What’s your most expensive pair?
I’ve never really spent that much on a single pair, maybe £300 off the top of my head. In the past people have quoted me saying I’ve spent £250,000 in total and that they’d stack as high as 16 double-decker buses or whatever, which is incorrect – I really wouldn’t know and I don’t really care.

What’s your desert island purchase?
I always get asked this, and it’s so hard. I’d have to say the Nike Air Jordan 4 Breds because I was the first person in the UK to own a pair and it’s bonding over them that brought one of my best mates and me together. There are still so many I’d like to own but never got to because of availability or whatever. There’s still time though.

The Vintage Collector

Douglas Gunn

All of our wardrobes owe a debt to those of our fathers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers. Men’s fashion tends to be more reverential of the past than women’s. It’s slower. When something works, we don’t much like to let it go. That’s particularly true for Douglas Gunn, who not only collects vintage menswear but stores and sells the best stuff from two dedicated spaces in London.

Co-founded with Roy Luckett 10 years ago, The Vintage Showroom specialises in early-mid 20th-century garb, from military and sportswear to classic English tailoring.

Vintage Menswear

FashionBeans: How did you get started collecting vintage menswear?
Douglas Gunn: I come from a family of collectors; my parents were always dragging me around antique fairs and sales as a kid (which I hated at the time). They mainly collected ceramics and art, and small bronzes, but I guess something got into the blood. It definitely gave me an early appreciation for quality, for craftsmanship, and a passion for old things.

What drew you to the field?
I had always been interested in vintage clothing, [it has] more of a mix-and-match attitude than a head-to-toe style. In 2000 I was looking for a change in direction and started working out of Toronto, Canada with friends who were early sellers of vintage Americana. I liked the idea of trying it as a business. It built up slowly, starting part-time on eBay and various London street markets like Brick Lane and Portobello Road.

I guess I was lucky early on that I started working with designers who gave me a different viewpoint in regards to what I was buying and selling. I picked up a concession in Selfridges mainly selling vintage leathers and rock tees. That ran for a few years, but I was more interested in the potential of working with designers from fashion and film. This was the starting idea when Roy and myself started The Vintage Showroom 10 years ago.

What do you love about it?
I have a problem with consumerism and the whole throwaway culture. I am guilty in places, but generally I try and buy quality that lasts. I think a lot of people that are into vintage clothing, especially men, make purchases for that reason.

What’s your most prized item?
I found a leather motorcycle coat at the start of the year. I was approached by the seller after they found it hanging in a shed on land that they had recently purchased. It was made by Belstaff, but the label was spelt ‘Bellstaff’. About five years ago when we first started working for Belstaff I found out that this had been the original spelling on its 1924 trademark – I doubt anyone else knew about it at that time, and now we have what I imagine is the only original leather coat left in existence with that label.

What’s your desert island purchase?
I feel I should choose something practical like a poncho or a mosquito-proof tropical military piece, but I would probably go for one of the most beautiful things we have, which a good friend found for us when we started. They are the Boer War Keepsakes cut from military tunics that were sent home by British soldiers as messages to loved ones. They give me immense pleasure whenever I look at them. Though sadly they are probably the least practical item in the showroom for desert island living – well maybe apart from Roy’s Teddy Bear Coat.

The Tie Collector

Ed Ruiz

If you can collect it, chances are there’s a name for it. Ed Ruiz, known online as My Dapper Self, is a grabatologist. Not to be confused with a garbatologist (someone who studies bins), Ruiz earned the title after amassing a collection of more than 200 neckties.

The Mexico-based fashion consultant shares his knack for sartorial noosery on Instagram and his own blog, which covers everything from different styles of tie to advice on wider formalwear. Here he reveals what and what knot he’s yet to add to his line-up.

A post shared by Ed Ruiz (@mydapperself) on

FashionBeans: How did you get started collecting ties?
Ed Ruiz: I’ve always had an appreciation for classic men’s style, but I started properly buying ties at the beginning of my teenage years. Before long I was snapping up as many as I could with whatever money I had. As the years passed, what began as a simple love for an item developed into a full collection without it ever being the goal.

What do you love about them?
For me, it’s all about the excitement of finding a new tie I love or looking for that evasive one tie in the exact right colour, design, pattern and width. I haven’t found it yet because I don’t know what it looks like, but I’ll know when I see it.

What’s your most expensive item and how much have you spent in total?
The first part of that question is one that every collector loves; the second is one we all dread to think about. The most I have paid for a single tie is around $120 (£90), which may not sound like much, but it was hard to justify as a young man in Mexico earning pesos. I have no idea how much I have spent in total on my tie collection, and I don’t think I want to know.

What’s your most prized item?
When you have over 200 ties, it all gets a bit blurry when trying to think of which tie you love the most or which is the most prized one. The ones I appreciate the most are those given to me by important people in my life. They have a story behind them, that makes them special to me.

The Watch Collector

Denis Hickey

Think of a watch collector, and you probably have in mind an oligarch who dedicates a room on the lower deck of his yacht to store a not-so-modest assortment of Pateks and Vacherons. But the good news is you don’t have to own an oil pipeline to have a watch collection.

More affordable manufacturers can be every bit as collectable as watches from 200-year-old luxury watch brands. Denis Hickey fell hard for Swatch and has never looked back.

Swatch Watches

FashionBeans: How did you get started collecting watches?
Denis Hickey: I had been aware of Swatch as a brand since its inception and early advertising, which was bold and striking – working to distance itself from digital watches (which were everywhere) and taking a step towards individuality while embracing traditional Swiss watchmaking.

After early dalliances, my first foray into collecting was an Annie Leibovitz Olympic Special, which featured one of her patented black and white images. Cool, sophisticated, very arty and different from anything else around. In short, a piece of art that could tell the time and you could wear on your wrist.

What do you love about them?
I love that the brand is innovative, from the technical aspects of the watch to the use of unique materials, they are unlike any other manufacturer. The design is at times fashion-forward, at others retro, giving a very knowing tip of the hat to the greatest hits of past decades while recycling its own history and DNA.

Swatch has had a long relationship with artists and designers from many different fields. Its packaging is amazing, in particular on its limited releases, which are sometimes kept to as few as 100 pieces worldwide without having the price tag you would expect for such a limited quantity.

What’s your most prized item?
Vivienne Westwood’s boxset of five watches, which has a watch for each of her decades in fashion, is probably top of the list but there are a number of others that are in the running.

What’s your desert island purchase?
A Swatch Diaphane One Carousel Tourbillion, a massive leap of technical innovation and a watch of great style and elegance. A true classic.

The Streetwear Collector

Maj Veloso

Streetwear clothing may have been around for more than 30 years, but things are very different now compared to the early days. Today more of a sport than a style, with each frenzied drop, milliseconds make the difference between copping the hottest new piece and being left out in the cold (with the hundreds who queued around the block overnight).

Filipino sneakerhead and co-founder of Team Streetwear Philippines, Maj Veloso has built an assortment of Supreme, a stockpile of Palace and a collection of Crooks & Castles rivalled by few others.

A post shared by Maj Veloso (@marcjoshveloso) on

FashionBeans: How did you get started collecting streetwear?
Maj Veloso: It started with sneaker collecting in 2007. I wasn’t paying much attention to the whole streetwear culture at the time but then in around 2009 I got into labels like NEFF, Johnny Cupcakes, A Bathing Ape, Crooks & Castles, Kid Robot, The Hundreds and Kozik. From then on, I learned how big streetwear was.

What drew you to the culture?
Most people think streetwear is simply just fashion. I’d say it’s more of a lifestyle, and what I love about it is that each and every individual has their own way of living it. It’s also really fulfilling to see people helping each other out within the culture.

What’s your most expensive item?
A lot of people think I buy a load of high-priced items, but I just tend to get lucky with most of my finds. If you were to ask me how much I’d spent over the years, I would bet on more than $50,000 (£38,000) in total.

What’s your desert island purchase?
I’d probably say my rare Supreme box logo tee from 2003. It took me long enough to actually get my hands on it. Luckily I got it for a steal. I don’t really look at prices, but more on the story behind the items I own.