AT THE opening of the newly renovated Nike Fort last month, the enormous printers at the Nike By You customization area were humming and hard at work.
Stamped on many of the shirts was a stark, unconventional design that straddled the line between whimsical and architectural — a highly detailed black-and-white rendition of a fanciful “Nike sari-sari store,” complete with Swoosh-branded sachets, a lopsided electric pole, a sign for a “Nike Manila TODA”, and a pair of Air Max 90s casually laid out on a concrete bench where, presumably, you’d sit down and sip at straws poking out of soft drink-filled plastic bags.
“We wanted to incorporate Pinoy elements in the illustration to form a connection between the brand and Pinoys in general, not just athletes and sports enthusiasts,” said Mady Marcelino, better known as Hey Mady, the artist behind this newest Nike By You collab.
The Nike sari-sari store is one of three designs that take inspiration from a Pinoy neighborhood. (There’s also one design of the Nike Fort building itself.) “[T]he makeshift basketball hoop and half-court on the streets — these are mundane and often overlooked parts of the neighborhood and yet they build a community that gathers for their love for sports,” Hey Mady went on in an interview with Spin.ph.
The inspiration from the designs literally came through her window. Thanks to a neighborhood hoops league happening near her house, the cheers (and boos) of the crowd, the rapid-fire patter of the commentator, and the blare of the game buzzer soon punctuated the rhythms of her day.
“I’d see these young athletes clad in their team’s uniform hanging out in the nearby sari-sari store,” recalled Hey Mady.
“I wouldn’t hear their conversations so I created this narrative of what they were talking about; it could be nonsensical things, it could be the joy they felt when they won or [lost], and they’re talking about what they can improve on for the next game? Who knows?”
But for sure, she thought, there would be one dreamer among them, slowly realizing that this is what they wanted to do.
How Hey Mady developed her style
That’s a feeling that’s very familiar to Hey Mady, who quit her full-time job a few years back to devote herself to her signature drawings — black-and-white illustrations of buildings, communities, streets, facades, and cityscapes that occupy that strange, alluring space between cute and technical.
“I started out exploring the style I have now with what was left on my lunchtime at my previous job and I was young, very clueless, and wouldn't be able to imagine that it would come to this,” she said.
The Nike By You collab was the biggest project she’s done so far — no mean feat in a portfolio that also includes projects with Badass Tote Girl, Mendokoro Ramenba, Ramen Yushoken, Summit Books, and Belgian newspaper De Standaard der Letteren.
“I couldn’t see how it would work at first since my style usually focuses on architecture and Nike centers around sports,” she admitted. “But the Nike team was very open. [They] gave me creative freedom, and helped every step of the way.”
In a way, her style of illustration, which presents the places we live in with an almost toy-like playfulness, represents where we come from — and where we’re still heading.
Speaking once again of those basketball players she saw in the sari-sari store, she mused that, maybe, “it was in these ordinary spaces, in their small and humble beginnings, that they started working towards their big dreams.”
Hey Mady was talking about her neighborhood’s athletes. But she could also well be talking about herself.
The Hey Mady x Nike By You collaboration is available for order at Nike Fort, BGC.