Inking Sneakers: Commonwealth x ASICS Reinterpret Philippine's Ancient Warrior Culture

An adventure into the highlander region to create the Gel-Lyte V “Kultura.”

Footwear 
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When Commonwealth first spread its wings landing upon the sunny shores of Manila, legions of streetwear faithfuls rejoiced as the influential retailer took aim at helping the nation and its bustling capital play catch up with the rest of streetwear-faring world. Along with established outposts in Virginia Beach and Washington DC, Commonwealth have transitioned itself from a humble apparel purveyor into a well reputed lifestyle brand. Ushering in such names as NEIGHBORHOOD, Bedwin & The Heartbreakers, Brain Dead, maharishi and others to a market curiously fascinated with what the finest tastemakers have to offer, the award-winning shop have done well to spearhead a movement keen on keeping its people stylistically abreast with its surrounding neighbors. At the helm stands Omar Quiambao, the empire’s co-founder and creative director. With a portfolio that spans several artistic disciplines, ranging from design to art direction and category expansion to brand identity, Omar keeps busy offering his expert insight to a broad range of clients in various genres. An ever-impressive list that boasts such names as New Balance, Reebok, Anti Social Social Club and Stussy, he has also worked alongside some of the music industry’s brightest stars; Travi$ Scott, Pusha T, Lupe Fiasco and N*E*R*D, just to name a few.

With that said, Commonwealth in collaboration with ASCIS, thought about creating a shoe as unique in design as is culturally respectful to the country it honors. Drawing artistic influence from an ancient warrior tribe presiding in the mountainous region of Luzon, the pair turn to the indigenous Butbut settlers of Buscalan Kalinga — its native daughter Apo Whang-Od in particular. Celebrating her 100th birthday earlier this year, Whand-Od is considered the last true standing mambabatok — traditional Kalinga body adornment artist — and is acknowledged as the oldest practicing advocate in the Philippines. A national relic of sorts, her hometown welcomes visitors the world over, oftentimes reaching several hundred a day who happily make the pilgrimage hoping to inherit the intricate impression work of the living legend herself. Applied to a long bamboo stick is a sharp thorn picked fresh from a nearby pomelo tree. A charcoal/water mixture, then punctures the skin in a rhythmic tapping motion finalizing the outline of the design.

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