Riyana's Sneaker Vault
Streetwear culture and sneaker collecting can often be misconstrued as a “boys club” – in which women are often side-lined, such as when smaller sizes are often marked up at resell price-points. Locally, in combatting this and staying true to her style, Riyana Kherekar AKA GUDGALRIRI is paving the way as a female leader in the space; curating an enviable archive of some of the most coveted sneakers ever created.

Riyana is firm in her belief that being a sneakerhead is lifestyle, not merely a passion – and professes holding immense value for welcoming more women into the sneaker culture in South Africa. As an OG Collector, Riyana is not about the hype – and remains committed to the old-school, bubble kop movement; influenced heavily by her uncles and dad, as well as 90s hip-hop, as well as the 2000s music videos. As a business owner – her streetwear label GUDGAL™ maintains a sense of empowerment, while being inclusive in welcoming guys to join in on the sweat-shirts, beanies and t-shirts emblazoned with the angel-style logo. We sat down with Riyana to discuss six of her most treasured pairs; ranging from two classics, two wild cards and two limited editions.

Classics: Black Nike Shox Vince Carter II and White/Red Nike Shox Vince Carter III

This is one of the first shoes I fell in love with when I was a young girl – particularly the red & white pair of the VC IIs. I love the shox sole; I have a quite a treasured selection. I feel like its timeless and it will never go out of style; it represents an era that is so special, and no matter how many style revivals occur – that time and place will never happen again in the way it did. I tend to tread lightly when I wear them, because of their age – it’s like the vintage version of a sneaker. I am super grateful to have both the Vince Carter II and III. 

Wild cards: Black/White Nike Air Max Lisa Leslie 9 and White/Blue Nike Total Air Bus Max

Both these sneakers are from 1998 – the end of an era! I don’t know anybody else who has these pairs, that’s what makes them wild cards. The Lisa Leslie are still super strong, 23 years later – and even though the Air Bus Max bubbles are finished (deflated), they both make me so happy knowing they’re in my collection. I feel like Nike’s quality from back in the day was so ahead of the curve; it was so innovative for its time, and you can really see that in these pairs. The Lisa Leslie is a basketball shoe, and the Air Bus is a baseball shoe; and I don’t think they’ll be retro-ed. 

Limited Edition: Black/Infrared Air Jordan W OG x ME and Air Jordan 5 “What The”

The Jordan 5 I actually got from Lemkus, and I feel like they super rare – when I saw the Jordan 5s in this colourway, I was like “I have to have it!’’. It might not be limited in quantity but I think it’s really different, and that’s what makes it limited edition. It was only released once here. The OG X ME was never released here – I had to import it, and it took months to get here. It is so special to me. I only know of myself and two other people in South Africa who have them – maybe there is more, but they are keeping quiet about it! The meaning behind the OG X ME is really special; Melody Ehsani is a powerful woman in the sneaker game, and she loved basketball since she was a young girl; to go on to create this incredible collaboration with Jordan is such an inspiration to me. 

Special thanks to Riyana for sharing her collection. What's your favourite pair in her collection?