Meet Chi Loyzaga Gibbs: The Filipina Behind the Tropical Air Jordan 2 Collab

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October 26, 2022
Read Time: 3 minutes

Neon Island’s Chi Loyzaga Gibbs shares how the collaboration came about and why Philippine representation is at the heart of her design

 

 

I’ve known Chi Loyzaga Gibbs for almost a decade. When I was a young writer making her way through publishing, Chi and her sister Gabs were the subjects of one of my first few profiles. Notably, even her design philosophy and personal style then were pretty clear-cut, and Chi wasn’t the type to waver on her aesthetic. Meanwhile Gabs’ was more malleable; she wasn’t afraid to experiment with different styles—maybe it’s why she ventured into makeup.

 

But Chi always wanted to do something with her hands. To create. Whether that’s developing a custom pattern for her brand Neon Island, designing phone cases or specialty prints, art was always at her core. I remember her telling me that she had always enjoyed the design process; that there was no way she could quit it no matter how big her brand got.

 

Fast forward to 2022, the designer and CEO is one of the more influential creatives in the digital space who’s equally known for her style and artistry. So, it’s only fitting that local sneaker hub TITAN asked her to collaborate for the latest Nike Air Jordan 2 Lows release.

 

 

“I was stunned,” Chi tells Wonder in an exclusive one-on-one. “When they added that they wanted me to honor my grandfather through this project, I started tearing up.” For non-basketball aficionados (such as myself), her grandfather was Carlos “Caloy” Loyzaga, a member of the winning Philippine team during the 1954 FIBA World Cup and a four-time gold medalist at the Asian Games from 1951 to 1962. Though his time on the court was way before Chi was born, her Grandpa Caloy’s experiences in the 50s still resonate and inspire her to this day. It might be partly the reason why she’s a self-proclaimed sneakerhead, too!

 

 

“We really took a lot of inspiration from the 50s. That was the era in which [my grandfather] won. Vintage posters and photographs played a huge role, too,” Chi shares about her design. What’s distinct about her pair is the refreshing color combination of a bright leafy green and an almost papaya-like orange. Other than both being her favorite colors, these hues have sentimental value to them. “They were both colors that showed up in a lot of our inspiration photos, more notably in my grandfather’s jersey.”

 

She reveals that the collaboration was already in talks more than a year ago. But everything went smoothly from then on. Chi reveals, “The design process itself was actually pretty quick. Just a couple of months!”

 

 

The result is a fun and distinctly tropical pair with corduroy trimmings in plush green, bright orange accents on its heel and ankle cuff, turquoise eyelets, and the tape along the outsole is bespeckled with splashes of brown. It’s easy to think of the beach at first glance, but doesn’t it also remind you of the Philippines’ pristine shores and waters? While its in-sole features a cool collage artwork inspired by her grandfather, the inner tongue of the shoe reveals a playful embroidery of a palm tree and basketball. You definitely can’t miss the tropical or otherwise Philippine-inspired references here!

 

To complement the pair, Chi even designed a capsule collection available at TITAN so you can wear her vision in full. “I’ve been wearing them a lot with cargo skirts and a pullover! Specifically, the orange one from our apparel collection,” Chi admits when I asked for styling notes.

 

 

But at the end of the day, it’s really about leaving a distinctly Filipino mark that would be noticed globally. “[Representation] means everything! Both TITAN and I really wanted to share a part of Philippine basketball history with this shoe. To me, the palm tree and basketball logo that appear in both the shoe and apparel perfectly convey Filipino culture and our love of basketball!”

 

 

Words Maura Rodriguez

Art Matthew Ian Fetalver

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