András Eszlinger is a heavily encountered yet largely unknown by name seller of vintage goods. And when it comes to PUMA and adidas he’s got an archive to make most people’s passions boil. To boot, he’s bringing such new and used artifacts to the trainer marketplace at unbelievably agreeable prices, so it’s no wonder why he’s on his way to worldwide recognition. Seeing as how the line between collections and conversions can be quite often foggy, we’ve felt the need to hunt András down and get him to explain himself, who he is, and what exactly it is that he does within the game.
So, without further ado, welcome to eatmoreshoes, András! Please, tell our readers: who are you and what’s your background?
I’m a full-time online seller of vintage sportswear and accessories. I was born and raised in Hungary, spent over four years in the UK in my mid-twenties, and now I live in Slovakia.
Would you call yourself a collector?
I’m not a collector at all. In my opinion collecting is a beautiful and admirable thing, and I always respected those who have this passion. But collecting expensive stuff – such as trainers – is for those who have everything else to live a comfortable life, and have enough spare money every month to spend on their passion. In these young ages I concentrate more on settling down, buying a house, and having a family in the near future. My goal is pretty much to live the “American dream”. After I achieve all of these things, I’m sure I’ll collect something later on, even if only in my retirement.
I see the beauty in the vintage gear, regardless of what it is. The brands made quality products in the old days. I enjoy working on this stuff: doing research, cleaning the shoes and clothing, taking photos, and sharing my love with others. For example , I don’t like watching football and I can’t play it either, but I love selling vintage football boots. Every pair has it’s story and soul. But at the end of the day, if I have to choose between staring at them on display shelves or having thousands of pounds in my pocket, I’ll choose the money. I’ve noticed that sooner or later every one gives up collecting anyway: either they lose their job, or they have to buy a new car, or a new baby comes into the family – or whatever else – and spare money is needed.
Alright, that makes a lot sense András. Then if you’re not a collector, how’d you get into this business in the first place?
I started to like wearing the Trefoil when the first re-issue fashion wave came: the early 2000s, when I was a teenager. We all knew, if you wanted to be trendy and look old-school, you had to have a Trefoil or a jumping puma on your track top and sneakers. These “originals” ranges were very expensive in shops though, and my family was never rich, therefore I couldn’t afford such gear. So I looked for alternative ways. I was able to get hold of original, second-hand, twenty to thirty year old pieces. Car boot sales, online advertising sites, and more. The majority of youngsters showed no interest in these, so prices of OG products were low, as it still is now. This is due to the snobbism of most hungarians.
Then several years later, in 2006, I moved to England to try my luck. Here I met eBay, of which I didn’t know before. I loved the vastness of the variety of items I could order for myself, and spent a lot of money to finally get the clothes I always wanted, but just for my own pleasure. At first I just bought vintage and retro adidas and PUMA gear to wear myself. Sometimes I didn’t quite like the item or it didn’t fit me, and I re-listed it with my own photos and description. The result was very interesting. I sold the items for usually three times more than what I paid for them. This made me think and I got very excited! I did research and I realized that those items listed with little care, bad photos, and no knowledge from the seller, tended to sell low. So I started buying more and more, cleaning them, figured out and read on forums how to take good photos, researched the history of certain models, and re-listed them. Usually nine out of ten pairs at least doubled their original price. This is how it all started.
And is it truly what you do for a living, with no other job?
Yes. After the exciting start I realized that in Eastern Europe I can get ahold of loads of vintage gear, as adidas and PUMA both manufactured their stuff in my surrounding countries: Austria, Slovenia, Germany, and so on, so there is plenty to find, and most people are not interested. In fact, to many, it is considered “old rubbish”. So I moved back home from England and invested all my saved money into stock. Then registered myself as a self-employed trader. I don’t need to have another job and thank God I’m making way more than enough, but ultimately the best news is that I love what I’m doing!
Sounds like a dream job truly built out of passion. So, for those out there that are new to your profile, tell them: what is it that you sell?
I specialize in vintage adidas and PUMA sneakers, clothing, and football boots, but I also sell vintage tennis rackets in the summertime, and vintage ski suits in the wintertime. Also, I always look for something new to sell. I’m interested in a lot of things: ’80s LCD watches, accessories, ’80s video games and calculators, and so on. I always look for new things I could expand my profile with, otherwise it gets boring again and again in the long run. Most of my trainers and clothing are pre-worn, however, occasionally I manage to get hold of “new-old-stock” items, but they are very rare in my area.
Yeah, we know how that story goes. As for ‘getting ahold’ of items in general, obviously there are trade secrets you can’t share, but what can you tell us about your product sourcing process?
All I can say is that each pair or piece is handpicked by myself, so I put all my enthusiasm and knowledge into every single item. This way I only very rarely lose money. Sooner or later every item sells with good profit.
Surely a healthy helping of patience is required to run such a good business. And when it comes to vintage goods, you frequently aren’t sure what you have, is this right?
Yes, unfortunately (or not), none of us can know all the model names that have ever been produced; that is practically impossible. I often bump into models I’ve never seen before. I’m lucky if the model name printed on the side of the shoe is still readable, or if there’s even one there in the design to begin with! If not, I first check my vintage catalogues. If I can’t find the product on paper, I search on the internet, but quite often after half an hour browsing I give up, and ask on forums or pages. There are very good communities online and we help each other a lot. This way I’ve made several “virtual” friendships with like-minded people from other parts of the world.
That’s nice to have a solid business running that allows one to learn and grow and even make some new acquaintances along the way. Looking back over the years, what are a few of the most interesting PUMA and adidas pieces you recovered?
There have been quite many, but as I don’t have an archive for their photos, I usually forget them. I remember having a pair of OG ’50s leather running spikes by adidas, which had pretty much the same design as the ones made by Adi Dassler for Jesse Owens in 1936. I really felt proud and honoured to hold them in my hands! But of course I sold them.
I’ve also had many pairs of PUMA Pelé and PUMA Maradona football boots from the ’70s. To be honest, I can’t really think of a pair of trainers that would have been really special for me personally, as I’m close to four thousand sales by now and without keeping archives it’s difficult to remember.
Surely, as you move forward in time it’s all about the present, not necessarily the past, even when you are dealing with vintage goods. As for the future, where do you see your business / passion growing to next?
I can’t really tell, but I think about it quite often! The main thing is that I don’t really want to do anything else for a living, so I have to “maintain” the passion for vintage sportswear. This can only be done by always changing small bits, otherwise even this can get boring. You can get bored of the best things no matter what it is, if there is no change for years. I’m not planning to change the profile, but I’m sure I’ll add new types of items to it in the future. Obviously I always have to check the demand, and be flexible, as at the end of the day it’s not just my hobby, but my money for living too.
My goal is to just keep myself loving what I do, and unlike other traders, I’m not going for the huge profit and big company structure in the future. As anyone can see in my shop, I’m honest, very keen on details, and not trying to convince anyone to buy my items. You either like it and buy it, or you don’t. That’s also fine. Then someone else will buy it. I don’t like those traders who pretend and publish an image of themselves that they’re a large, professional company with several employees and big investments, while in reality they’re just selling vintage clothing from their bedrooms. We all know that behind the seller’s computer there is either just one person, like me, or (maximum) a young couple, which is quite common too. So I’ll always keep it as simple – but as professional – as I can.
That’s a great goal, and really good character to apply to your career, András! But seriously, with so much passion in your work, it’s hard to believe you’re not a collector at all… do you not even keep a small personal collection of adidas or PUMA trainers or clothing?
No, truly, I don’t have a personal collection, and I never had one either. I’ve got about five or six pairs of PUMA and adidas sneakers (in total!) that I wear on the weekdays and in the gym. Amongst them my favourites are a pair of OG early ’80s adidas Rio and a 2003 reissued adidas Italia. I like to wear tracksuit tops for the weekdays and my favourite is the adidas Beckenbauer TT, of which I’ve got three colourways. I used to have more but I grew out of them over time.
Fair enough, you really aren’t amassing much for yourself at all. With that dichotomy at play – being so involved in vintage but not hanging onto any of it – how do you find that you fit into the overall trainer scene?
I know that this might sound weird, but I’m proud to be a “dealer” of vintage gear, as this way not just my own purchases, but the purchases of my buyers keep the scene alive. I’m proud to be appreciating the originality, keeping these items safe and looking after them, as this is now our heritage, this is now history. My kind of traders are needed, as otherwise there would be less refreshment in the vintage trainer circles. This way more and more collectors and fans can get hold of new (old) models they didn’t have before, and if they get bored of a pair, they can sell them on. This way the whole scene is kept going and alive! In my area otherwise hundreds of vintage footwear would go into the wrong hands, and sooner or later into waste. They have to go where they’re appreciated.
We deeply agree with your philosophies there, András! We’re curious though, do you get excited about and follow new releases at all?
No, not at all. I don’t follow new releases as I’m not happy with the trainer market nowadays. Quantity took over quality, and the materials they use and the overall quality (compared to the retail price) of either adidas or PUMA doesn’t satisfy me. But despite that, I’m proud that both the adidas and PUMA brands bought trainers directly from me to be a part of their archives, and also to check the build and details of certain models before they reissue them.
That’s yet another contribution you’re making to keep the scene alive. And lastly, as for keeping one’s own collection alive, how can eager collectors find you to purchase some of your treasures?
At the moment I only have an eBay shop, and I’ve thought of having my own web shop, but for now this is the best option for my business so I’m happy with it. Beyond that I’d like to say a big thanks you the EMS team for this wonderful opportunity to introduce myself. Never forget: sharing is caring! I wish all the best to eatmoreshoes and I hope that you guys keep this professional work going!
Same back at you András, the world of vintage needs more sellers such as yourself. And in order to keep him afloat, if anyone out there is interested to browse his goods, please head on over to his eBay store or his Facebook page to see what he’s got in stock!
written by Dylan Cromwell