Most in the Malaysian streetwear industry will know Felex Yee as the founder of Boundlezz Store as well as an OG of the scene. Those closer to him will know that his interest in lifestyle collectables borders the line between obsession and insanity.
His obsessions include everything from A Bathing Ape, Futura’s Pointman, sneakers, Vitra Design Museum’s miniature replicas as well as large-scale figurines that include Tweetie bird, Yoda, Astroboy and a Jack O’Lantern squirreled away in his home and office. We popped by to take a look at all the rarities.
How did you get into collecting?
I started collecting when I was 19 years old. The first thing I bought as part of a collection was a Michael Lau toy.
What do you enjoy about collecting? Is the items themselves or the thrill of the chase?
I get a good a kick out of collecting items, especially when I can manage to finish collecting a ‘set’ of items, I get a sense of satisfaction and “high” out of it. It’s also a form of catharsis for me in the sense that it helps me “release” my daily stress.
Where are your usual hunting grounds?
Vintage shops in Kuala Lumpur (I scored a 70s era Ronald McDonald statue here once), shopping trips to Hong Kong and Taiwan, through personal collections and the Internet like eBay. Back in the day, I learned how to use a computer just so I could buy and sell on eBay. I’ve started using Instagram to trade. A lot of Futura pieces were sold to me via Instagram, when sellers would get in touch with limited edition pieces.
How did you get started with your A Bathing Ape obsession?
It was 1998 and it started with a T-shirt that I had bought from a bundle* but don’t know if it’s original or not, so I decided to search for 100% authentic BAPE and to learn more about the brand. The quality is good and before it was bought over by the I.T. Group in 2011, each item had a serial number. That’s how I got “poisoned”. But I only collect vintage A Bathing Ape, pre-2005 lifestyle items. I don’t touch the new stuff.
*Malay slang for shops/street traders selling used goods.
What’s the deal with UNKLE and Futura’s Pointman?
I first knew about the Pointman when Futura had a collaboration with A Bathing Ape. I was, and still am, attracted to the design. I can’t explain the attraction. I get excited by it and have collected everything from UNKLE’s pop-up vinyl to Pointman sketches, figurines and canvas paintings. As for UNKLE, they pay a lot of attention to their packaging and there is longevity in their products.
You recently had the chance to work with UNKLE, a dream come true?
Boundlezz recently collaborated with UNKLE’s James Lavelle when he was in KL for a show, producing a limited edition T-shirt and a showcase of their artwork. I was very happy but very tired due to the enormous amount of work that had to be done on short notice.
What’s Your most sweat-inducing find?
A four-foot tall Tweety bird. I bought it at a Japan Yahoo auction. It was packed and sent to my friend’s address in Japan but it was too big to enter the door so they had to unpack it and squeeze it through. Later my friend had packed it up and again it couldn’t go through the door, so they had to unpack it again.
Then my friend had a disagreement with the shipping company and I lost the item. Three years later, my friend called to tell me he’d found it. It was sitting in a shipyard somewhere, exposed to rain and shine. Tweetie arrived with a cracked head and butt. I had him repaired and he now sits in my office. I’ll never sell him.
How has technology changed the way we collect?
Before the time of the internet, if you scored a limited edition item, it was a big achievement. Now, you can just get anything online if you look hard enough. That’s why I’m going back to stuff that wasn’t so easily available before the streetwear/street art internet boom.
Is there anything that you are looking for now?
A 2002 UNDERCOVER Hamburger Lamp. What would I give or do to get it? I want it so bad that I might consider selling myself for it (laughs).
What are your favourite items?
They are all my favourites. I must like an item for a while before I actually buy it.
How about your most precious acquisition?
Hmmmm (looks at his wife for suggestions) … My wife? (Laughs).
Follow Felex on Instagram at @felexyee, where he occasionally auctions off some of his private collection, and check out his stores in KL (@boundlezz_unlimited) and Penang (boundlezz_heritage).
Text: Summer Tan
Photography: Jules @ Streething