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Nate Felipe: Filipino-Canadian Sneaker Illustrator/Photographer Interview


Camille Lumogdang
November 16, 2022

2008 Nike Hyperdunks is the pair that triggered Nate @nateflip sneaker obsession ever since. Bryan Espiritu, Cran, Reina Koyano, and Ralph Romeo are a few big names who inspired him as a sneaker photographer and kept him creative all day!

What was the moment you first got drawn to sneakers, and which pair of sneakers triggered your passion?

I've been into sneakers since I was a kid - even though my parents weren't well off, they still did their best to buy nice shoes for me at the start of every school year. I started with Shaqs, Reeboks, Adidas, and Nike. I remember a particular pair of Nike Shox that I really liked, and I made sure it was as clean as possible by brushing it with a toothbrush, soap, and water every time I returned home from school.

The pair I would say really triggered my passion for sneakers is the 2008 Nike Hyperdunks, particularly the Knicks colorway. It was an elite basketball shoe that I wore daily as a kid. I absolutely loved the design and even used it as a base to create my colorway for an art project I had in school.

As I grew up, I eventually couldn't fit in them anymore, and being Filipino, my parents would ship my old pairs of shoes back home to my relatives for them to wear. I wish I kept that pair, though. I hope Nike eventually retros that model!

All images via @nateflip

What’s one moment or trend in the history of sneaker culture that resonates with you?

I'd say it was around 2015-2017 that really resonated with me. So much happened within that timespan, and it was also around the time that I returned to the sneaker world and paid a bit more attention to what was happening.

First, you got the whole Adidas wave, where was booming and everyone wanted a pair of NMDs or Ultraboosts - alongside that, Kanye teamed up with Adidas and came out with his Yeezys. Those were absolutely impossible to grab (by the time I tried, anyway).

Then you got Nike hitting back with Virgil Abloh and Off-White, introducing The Ten. It was a huge shift in design and made creatives think differently when they got a chance to collaborate on a sneaker.

Please describe how it feels to you when you get and wear a new pair of kicks?

Like most, I have a sort of ritual whenever a new pair comes in. I take the pair out and admire it for a reasonable amount of time - I'd even pull up a review of that same sneaker (usually by my boy Sean Go), so I can review it in-depth alongside the video.

After that, I'd leave the pair on display on my desk, so I could always grab one and admire it throughout the day. Usually, I'd have photo ideas already planned out for the pair while they were in transit to me, and by the time they arrived, I'd do my ritual and then do the shoot.

Once that's done, I eventually put them on my feet and admire them during the day whenever I get a chance!

How did your passion for streetwear/sneaker photography develop?

I have a bit of a background in graphic design, illustration, and photography. One day I just realized that I could merge that world with my love of sneakers, and the rest was history.

What are some of your favorite creators/designers or brands and why?

Bryan Espiritu, Cran, Reina Koyano, and Ralph Romeo!

I've listed these people because of their unique work and how they really think differently. I illustrate sneaker art on the side by myself, and it's so inspiring to see their work because it makes me think, "How did they come up with something like this? Where did their idea come from?"

This thinking, in turn, helps me just to keep creating because you never know where or when the next bit of inspiration will hit you.

What is one sneaker collaboration that doesn’t exist, but you wish/think should exist?

Maybe a Garfield collaboration on an SB Dunk Low or something like that!

I absolutely love the Garfield comics and think it could be a fun idea! We've already seen a lot of loud, colorful collaborations on the Dunk model, and I think Garfield would fit perfectly with the rest of them.

What’s your favorite sneaker to photograph?

Air Jordan 4 ‘Sashiko’ - the amount of detail on the box and the shoe itself is just so amazing. It's hard not to want to take so many pictures of it!

What are some of the current pairs of sneakers in your rotation?

The pair I use daily is the Foam Rnnr 'Sand' - I've worn them down so much that there's no more traction on the outsole - it's just so comfy and easy to wear.

If I'm running errands, I wear the Air Max 93 'Menthol,' the Teddy Santis x New Balance 990v3 MIUSA 'Sea Salt,' or a pair of Nike By You Dunks I made to look like the Neutral Grey AJ1 Lows. While I have those pairs of AJ1 Low, the Dunk By You arrived at my door first, so I beat them more 😂.

Anytime I'm going for date night or a night out with friends, I'd do a little flex and wear either the Travis Scott Fragment Air Jordan 1 Low or the Union LA Air Jordan 1 Black Toe.

What is your ultimate holy grail sneaker that you have not managed to acquire so far?

It's a toss-up between the Union LA Air Jordan 1 'Storm Blue' and the Off-White Air Jordan 1 'Chicago.'

I was lucky enough to get the Union Black Toes for retail when Union did its first online release, and I also had a chance at the Storm Blues. I chose only to get one because I was worried my order would get canceled for trying for both.

As for the Off-Whites, it's just a really nice-looking sneaker. It's a grail far out of reach now, but it's a nice thought.

As a photographer, what are some of your daily essentials or treasured items?

Essentials as a photographer? Good lighting, a reflector, charged batteries for your camera and remote triggers, and an empty SD card. Aside from that, an open and keen eye for a good backdrop/background, etc.

Other than kicks, I also need my phone, iPad, AirPods, insulated water container, and a bottle of Coke Zero.

Where can people find you on social media?  

Instagram: @nateflip and @vectoredsoles

TikTok: @nateflip

Website: vectoredsoles.com

An engineer who loves writing in her spare time.