Tom Römer (AKA Tommy Triggah) Discusses His First Sneaker Collaboration and the Importance of Community
To start, Tommy, tell us a bit about yourself and what you do.
Hi, thanks for having me. I’m Tom, 43 years old, and I currently work as the brand director for Sneakerjagers. Sneakerjagers is an online sneaker platform with the latest news on sneakers, a sneaker search engine and a release calendar. We also produce several Youtube shows. I host one myself.
What was it that created Tommy Triggah? What kicked off the sneaker collector you are today?
My affection for footwear started way before Tommy Triggah was created. It was somewhere around the late 80s that I started to notice what people around me were wearing, especially some of the older peers who were already more focused on sneakers, much more than I was at the time.
It really started for me when the Nike Air Tech Challenge III (Volt) came out in 1990. One of Andre Agassi’s signature models. I just loved that vibrant Volt and that flaming tennis ball on the heel. To be honest, I think the entire Challenge Court collection remains to be one of the greatest Nike collections to ever release.
You have an incredible collection of sneakers. How do you discern between a good pair and a bad one?
There’s really no formula for me. I just like a sneaker or I don’t. Could be also a sneaker that I personally wouldn't wear but sometimes you just have to respect the aesthetic of a well-designed sneaker.
How many sneakers are in your current collection?
Too many. A rough estimate, I think somewhere around 400 pairs.
What’s your oldest pair and what’s your newest pair?
Air Span 1 (1988)
Air Jordan 1 Bred Patent (2021)
What is your most memorable sneaker moment?
Creating my own sneaker together with Morgan Weekes for Kangaroos. The Inside Job.
As a sneakerhead, it’s a dream to have the opportunity to design your own shoe. What was that initial feeling like when you got the offer?
At first, I didn’t exactly realise how special this moment was for me. Don’t get me wrong, I was stoked when they asked me for the project. But it really took other people’s reactions to really make me aware of how special this moment actually was.
Where do you get inspiration from during the creative process when creating your own sneaker, why was that piece of inspiration such a fundamental part of the creation of the product?
We took our own personal sneaker preferences to the table and created a sneaker with it. That means our favourite shapes, colours, materials etc. We just wanted to make a solid sneaker that would give people a lot of wear and would sit well with people of different tastes. I think that should always be the first priority when making a shoe.
You’re a big advocate for the sneaker community and the culture around it. When you, alongside Morgan Weekes (AKA Morprime), created your KangaROOS collaboration, you said that you had “made a shoe by the community for the community”. Do you feel that the assumption of the current sneaker community being only about hype is unjust?
There will always be something that’s more popular than the next thing. The same goes for sneakers. There will always be hype. Sneakers have become very popular over the years. The demand for sneakers is higher now than it’s ever been. Everybody wants sneakers. So a lot of different motives are running around the community nowadays.
I don’t care about other people’s motives. That’s their business.
What actually was meant with ‘’by the community for the community’’, was us being from the community, with our footwear loving motives, creating a sneaker for the community (and beyond).
How do you feel the sneaker culture in The Netherlands differs from the sneaker culture in the UK?
I think there are a lot of similarities. The UK is also very ‘’Runner’’ driven just like the Netherlands, just with their own favourite models.
3 of your top 10 sneakers of 2021 were Air Max. Is Air Max your favourite line? If so, why? And if not, what is?
Air Max is definitely a line that ranks high on my personal favourite list and I don’t think there’s much that can top this line in terms of scope, meaning models, history etc. It’s up there.
Is there a pair that you’re still on the hunt for?
Wouldn’t mind a (first) retro of the Air Max 1 B Viotech.
In a number of your previous posts on Instagram, you’ve expressed your love for the Nike Air Huarache, what is it about the Huarache that garners so much love?
It’s just one of those models that remind me of my early days in sneakers. It was such a futuristic sneaker in the early 90s and it had no Swoosh on it. Some of the vibrant OG colourways are a perfect reminder of what was going on back then.
It’s also the most comfortable Nike sneaker IMO.
As well as a sneakerhead, you’re a self-proclaimed hip-hop head. Who’s your favourite artist?
I have no favourite artist. Currently, I listen a lot to Benny the Butcher.
Where, for you, do hip-hop and sneakers meet?
Sneakers are the unofficial fifth element of hip-hop since the beginning. It’s part of the uniform. You have to step correctly.
On your site ‘Sneakerjagers’, you have a series named ‘The Turnover’. How important is it for you to share local talent within the music/DJ scene?
We want to give voice to the unheard and create a place where young talent can show their skills. The Turnover is curated by DJ Turne, a well-experienced DJ that has been sharing the stage with many greats throughout his career. It’s important to reach out to the future generation and give them a hand in their own development of becoming what they want to be in life. They’ll shape the future. It’s our duty to share our experiences with them.
In an interview with Sneakerjagers, you mentioned: “we and KangaROOS placed great emphasis on sustainable production” regarding the production of your sneaker. What does the future of sustainability in the sneaker culture look like?
Just being aware of how much we actually buy is the first step. I don't think it makes much sense to buy a sustainable sneaker if your average of buying is four pairs of sneakers every month. It’s still bad for our environment. Maybe we should focus more on what we already have.
If you had to choose - a sneaker with a great story or great materials?
What is your all-time grail?
DS Nike Air Force 180
You and your partner Tim Beumers have your own show titled the ‘Tim & Tom Sneaker Show’, do you feel that you have an obligation to pass on the torch and share your sneaker knowledge with a younger upcoming audience?
Have to refer you back to the Turnover answer. Counts for this as well. It definitely feels like an obligation for us to pass the torch.
What is your stance on gatekeeping within the sneaker industry?
It happens. Especially amongst the OG crowd. Personally, I don’t care about what drives you in this community. The reason you’re in it. I can’t control that. I don’t want to control that. I have my own motives and I mingle with people who have a similar mindset and motives.
What would a dream Tommy Triggah collaboration look like and who would it be with?
I would love to do my own Huarache. Not on Nike BY YOU of course, even though I would probably make some if they were available right now. No, I mean a real collaboration with Nike. An Air Force 1 or an Air Max 1 would be great too.
What is your most anticipated sneaker of 2022?
Can’t tell…all I can tell is this. Tommy has more to come in 2022 and 2023.
What advice would you give to new/young sneakerheads looking to access the industry?
Just have fun with it. As long as you got fun with it, it’s good. And connect with people, go to stores, go to events, show your face. People don’t forget faces.
Having an extensive network in this business will be your biggest advantage.