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Interview with Robert Ljuba

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We did a Q&A with Robert Ljuba, a true New Balance collector and founder of https://www.ljubascollective.com/.

Q: first of all, could you please introduce yourself.

A: Yes of course..I'm Robert Ljuba and I am born n' raised in the San Francisco Bay Area of California; Vallejo is where I've called home for nearly 30 years. (I'm turning 30 in October).

You sure have a special love for NB, why is that?

My attraction to NB isn't solely rooted to their colorways and models, but actually to the craftsmanship behind their products. My grandfather was a machinist for 30+ years so I had craftsmanship and quality of work embedded into my brain at an early age; this upbringing I think has a strong influence on my attraction to NB and their MiUSA/MiUK quality. 

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Do you remember what "real" pair was your first NB? Do you still have them?

Oh yes I do...It was 2006 and I was a sophomore in High School when the 'Black Bart' 575's were released, and this shoe had my immediate attention, but at that time I was knee deep in Nike SB. I refrained from purchasing what would've been my first pair of NB's. Fast forward 4 years and all of my Nike's were sold to feed my automotive hobby and I began grabbing NB's to feed my footwear needs. Can you guess what my first pair was? Yep! Black Bart 575's w/ Special edition box! I found them DS on eBay for $250. They are still with me as I now own the full CT x NB 'Confederation of Villainy' Pack and am privileged enough to have all of the boxes signed by BJ Betts. 

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Is there any models you prefer? Why is that?

Oh boy. I knew this question would come. Obviously I'm a fan of 99X models, but narrowing that category down to 2 or even 3 models specifically would be nearly impossible for me. I choose these models for 2 reasons: 1: I have a low arched foot and I find that most of the 99X models are more comfortable than non-99X. 2: They have a 'street style' to them that I like. Back when I wore SB's I had the laces loose, tongue flapped out, and wore them kind of sloppy so this is kind of a way I can tie my past with my present; though I don't wear my NB's sloppy haha.  

If you were to choose three pairs from your collection, which would it be and why?

Sheesh. That's a tough one. I'd pick my 990v4 x SBTG custom that Mark and I designed earlier this year because it was the 2nd project him and I did and I feel that this shoe really pushed the envelope for custom NB's everywhere. Secondly, I'd pick my 990PS not necessarily for the shoe, but what it represents for myself and the community. This shoe was one of many that I had the pleasure of purchasing from my buddy Kainoa aka @noooaah. Kainoa was one of the first people I started following while collecting NB's and I showed interest in many of his shoes so when it came time he decided to sell them, he hit me up. Just the fact that he kept his word and also gave me a killer deal make these have a special part in my collection. MOST of the NB community look out for each other without the temptation of resell pricing and I really enjoy that. Lastly, I'd pick 991GFG simply because it's a badass pair and green is my favorite color. Is there a 991 that's better? I'll wait... haha

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What are you planning to buy next?

Believe it or not...this year I've only purchased 3 pairs due to me purchasing an engagement ring, buying our first house, and planning our wedding for 2020. As I grow older I'm more frugal with what pairs I buy; the pair that has my most interest at the moment is the N. Hoolywood 996 that released when I was overseas in Europe. Let me know if you see a US11 ;)

Do you have any "All time grail"? 

When I hear 'grail' I think of it as a pair I'm currently chasing so if we are going off of what I consider a 'grail' is then my answer is, "I do not". Every pair I set out for that I'd categorize as a 'grail' I now own. The 1 pair that is at the top of my hit list is the Being Hunted x Solebox 575 'Military', but it's not a grail, I'd just love to have it so I can pair it with its 'Civilian' brother pair. If I had to give any of my pairs a 'grail' title they'd probably be: 998GL, 991GFG, and 990HSN