Six-year-old Caiden Ting has a lot in common with his peers. Like most elementary-schoolers, he stands at over three feet tall, enjoys playing hide-and-seek, and slips into his Balenciaga speed sneakers when he’s in a rush.
OK, so maybe the $300 pair of sneakers he’ll grow out of in months sets him apart, but he was born into a family of native New Yorkers. He never stood a chance—sneakers and streetwear practically raised him.
Caiden’s parents, Christine Su and Matthew Ting, both grew up in Queens, went to the same Brooklyn high school (where they knew *of* each other), and really started to connect while they were studying at NYU. They never thought much of their love of sneakers. “That’s just the way New Yorkers grow up,” Su tells me, reminiscing about long lines at Supreme (way back when no one would think to ever use Louis Vuitton and Supreme in the same sentence).
We’re at Su and Ting’s home in Manhattan, and close by are three miniature pairs of sneakers: a pair of Jordans, a pair of checkered Vans, and those aforementioned Balenciagas. The family’s front hallway is filled with Matthew’s sneaker collection—“I have like, one row in there!” Su says—and Caiden’s shoes, too. It’s a sea of Nikes, Converse, Vans, and designer kicks.
For Su, sneakers aren’t just something she likes; she’s dedicated much of her career to them. She first started collecting while working at Complex as the brand’s marketing and events director. Su would then go on to work for Adidas, Havaianas, and Converse. Matthew is similarly established in the sneaker world, having held positions at Reebok and, most recently, Adidas as senior activiations manager.
After five years as the senior director of global communications at Converse, Su started her own agency, Heir, which is focused on “the culture,” she says. “I do a lot of different brands and people that are important”—like Kappa Sport, Stadium Goods, and MICK—“really moving culture forward and driving youth culture. I’ve always been obsessed with youth culture.”
This is evident not just from her job, but by Caiden, who’s wearing a Balenciaga hoodie (size XXS) while Su and I are chatting. She knows he’ll grow out of it eventually, but she can’t help it—she works hard to give him all the things she couldn’t have at his age. At the end of the day, she wants Caiden to know that sneakers are life, and “Mama works hard. Mama is the boss.”
Click through to see what a family of sneakerheads looks like, and read how Su started her career, what she thinks pairs best with a CHANEL bag, and what Caiden told her his favorite pair of sneakers are.