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This Must-Have Sneaker Is a Cool Girl Favorite

Learn more about the girls rocking their Air Force 1s.

The best legends usually have the most unexpected origin stories. Take Nike's iconic Air Force 1 sneakers, which started out as a pair of experimental basketball shoes featuring a pocket filled with air that cushions and supports the wearer’s heel. It was a revolutionary idea, and the shoe is now one of the brand's signature styles, with iterations in every color and fabric imaginable.

Thanks to its versatile look, the Air Force 1 has also transcended the basketball world to become a must-have in every fashion girl's closet. In Manila, the sneaker’s fans are led by Alyssa Valdez, Jess Connelly, Bea Constantino, AC Lalata, and Elena Ortega, all of whom have pushed themselves to their limits to realize their full potential. Get to know these empowered women who inspire other females to become forces to be reckoned with.

ALYSSA VALDEZ
The volleyball player, who's also the newest member of the Chinese Taipei volleyball club Attack Line, inspires her fans to keep beating their own personal bests.

On Alyssa: Nike Air Force 1 in White, P4,795

What’s the best thing about being a volleyball player?
“I get to explore different countries and get to know myself even better through the experiences I’ve encountered.”

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
“Probably balancing my time—time spent with my family, with my work, and with volleyball.”

What’s the greatest lesson your sport has taught you?
“That the smallest details will make a difference. Volleyball taught me how the tiniest things matter, and that I should appreciate everything.”

What’s your advice to aspiring athletes?
“Dream big. It may take a while to get there, but it will be worth it.”

JESS CONNELLY
A musician and a style icon championing the local indie music scene, Jess keeps her passion for her music alive by constantly reinventing herself and proving her critics wrong.

On Jess: Nike Air Force 1 in Black, P4,795

How did you start your music career?
“I've been singing for as long as I can remember, and I started writing at around 13. Where I'm currently at stemmed from my frustration with the local entertainment industry, which told me that contemporary music won't work. I turned to the internet, played at my friends’ parties, and it grew from there.”

What are your biggest sources of inspiration?

“Love, traveling, and artists from the past and present.”

What’s the best thing about being a musician in the Philippines?
“The fact that we stand out. I think there is a common misconception that to 'make it,' you have to move to other side of the world. But now, with the internet, the possibilities are endless."

What’s your fearless forecast on the Philippine music scene?
“Global recognition. There has always been a thriving local indie scene, but it's hard to find for an outsider since it’s always overshadowed by the local mainstream TV and music industry. Global platforms are now paying attention to real local artistry.”

BEA CONSTANTINO
The inspiring woman behind the clothing line Herman & Co., Bea aims to push our local products to the forefront in fashion, providing appreciation and proper compensation for local artisans along the way.

On Bea: Nike AF-1 Low in Port Wine

How would you describe your personal style?
“My personal style, I think, is understated high street. I like statement pieces in muted neutrals that are comfy and wearable.”

Can you tell us about Herman & Co.? How did you start your brand?
“Herman & Co. is a heritage clothing brand that showcases textiles and products from communities around the Philippines, specifically from Southern Mindanao.

[It started] last year, when I kind of went through a period wherein I was figuring out what the next step for me and my brand would be. I knew I still wanted to be in the fashion industry, but I wanted to be doing something with more substance. I then realized that perhaps it's not random that I have this colorful and beautiful heritage behind me, as well as a lengthy tenure in the industry. I figured I had to do something to marry these two, hence the clothing line.”

What made you decide to use indigenous materials and products?
“I feel like our local materials don't get enough attention, and that now is a really good time to showcase these...I feel like there is an increased appreciation for artisanal goods lately, and I think that's a game changer.”

What’s your advice to a reader who wants to start her own proudly local brand?
“Research first and foremost about the communities and the culture. Using a community's textile and products entails a lot of responsibility because you are, in a way, telling the story of that place and its people.”

AC LALATA
In the male-dominated hiphop scene, the unabashedly feminine AC stands out. This hair and makeup artist and member of award-winning dance group Philippine Allstars inspires people to dream big and follow their passions.

On AC: Nike Air Force 1 in White, P4,795

What are your biggest sources of inspiration?
“My family is number one, as well as kids who love to dance and dancers who are eager to learn more about the craft. I also get inspired by different international artists.”

Tell us more about your experience with the Philippine Allstars. How did you end up joining the team?
“Back in 2008, I didn’t know a lot of studios that offered good dance workshops until I remembered the Philippine Allstars, which won internationally in 2006. I was and forever will be a fan of the original members of the group, so I made an effort to attend their classes even though their studio was far from my place. After several sessions, Madelle Enriquez Paltu-ob, a member of the Philippine Allstars, asked me to join her piece in their concert with other great dancers. Later on, Lema Diaz, one of the original members of the group, asked me to join them for a gig, and eventually invited me to train with them."

What’s the best thing about being a member of the Philippine All Stars?
“We get to travel around the world, meet different people from different places, and get the chance to learn about other countries’ cultures through dance.”

What’s your personal mantra?
“It’s okay, everything’s gonna be all right. When in doubt, just do it!”

ELENA ORTEGA
People were quick to dismiss Elena, a model who shifted to photography, as yet another IG-famous girl. Still, she stuck out her chin and forged a career for herself, proving that she's more than just a pretty face.

On Elena: Nike SF AF-1 in Port Wine

What made you decide to venture into photography?
“When I was younger, I wanted to do so many things. I wanted to dance, to draw, to play different instruments. I got to try all those, but what really stuck with me was taking photos. I just really enjoyed it and thought of it as a means of self-expression.”

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced in your career?
“The initial shift was difficult at first because I felt like people weren’t taking me seriously. I was usually known as a model or some girl on Instagram, but I just kept shooting and doing what I wanted to do. Fortunately my career picked up, and here I am now!”

How has your modeling experience helped in your career as a photographer?
“It’s been a big help! When I was starting out, I would ask some of my model friends if I could do a test shoot with them. They helped me practice and gain confidence in my work.”

Aside from photography, what else are you passionate about?
“Cutting off negativity from my life, eating better, working on my personal style, and finding inspiration in new places."


The Nike Air Force 1 is available in select Nike stores, as well as in Urban Athletics, The Athlete's Foot, Titan, and Capital branches. Visit Nike’s website to learn more.

This article was created by Summit StoryLabs in partnership with Nike.

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