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Growing up in an entertainment enthralled society hiding from our own insecurities, the vulnerable minds within are predisposed to aligning with the lifestyles and commodities endorsed by our favorite athletes, celebrities, and even the opinionated blogger. Subsequently, the skilled artisan that crafted said product according to our negligent likings goes unnoticed, rarely seeing the fame and respect they so rightly deserve. Take Gemo Wong, a designer for Nike Sportswear, for instance. With a quick Google search one would come across a LinkedIn profile and a short video interview, making it difficult to fully grasp his impact on urban culture fashion over the last 15 years.
Growing up in Cairo – the southernmost city of Illinois with an unfortunate history of racial turbulence – Gemo attributes his love for style to Michael Jordan, dating back to the late ’80s where he begged his mother to buy him the then superstar’s signature footwear. Looking to transform his love for fashion design into a reputable profession, the young Midwester of Filipino and Chinese decent enrolled in the Art Institute of Chicago, which landed him a job at popular ENYCE clothing brand shortly following graduation. After three years on the design room floor of ENYCE, Gemo went on to work for some of the most revered hip-hop clothiers of the early 2000s including Phat Farm, Marithe + Francois Girbaud and Sean John. With the necessary experience in overseeing various design teams under his Louis belt, the young creative attained what many consider a dream job in 2004, becoming the Design Director at the beloved Jordan brand, the same Nike subdivision he aligned himself with at such an early age. Now nearly a decade deep with Nike, Gemo currently holds the title of Design Lead for Special Projects and Elements at Nike Sportswear with the responsibility of overseeing boots and sandals development as well as exclusive collaborations and special requests. In an effort to finally give this inspiring artisan the limelight he’s so worthy of, we sat down with Mr. Wong to highlight the personal goods HE endorses in another installment of our ever-popular Essentials series. So in the end Gemo is comfortable with his modest lifestyle, gaining the respect and admiration of the people that are near and dear to his heart. Just remember however, the next time you adorn that Nike check, Gemo is likely standing above you with the strings to make you dance.
Photography: Ben Pigao