Chachi Victorino shares challenges customizing UST sneakers

Shoe artist shares process, challenges customizing UST sneakers

By: - Sports Editor / @ftjochoaINQ
/ 04:26 PM March 20, 2024

UST Tigresses customized Kobe 8 sneakers by Chachi Victorino

The custom Kobe 8 sneakers the UST Tigresses wore during a UAAP women’s volleyball game against Ateneo.–Photo from Chachi Victorino

MANILA, Philippines–It didn’t take long for Chachi Victorino to accept a project to customize shoes for the University of Santo Tomas (UST) women’s volleyball team.

“As an artist, one of the best feelings is seeing your work appreciated by others. And of course [to earn that appreciation], you have to make your artwork seen by other people,” she told the Inquirer in a message.

“And being somehow involved with UAAP is one way to do that.”


It also didn’t take the 21-year-old freelance artist long to see the challenges the project posed.

“The main problem was that they needed 14 pairs of shoes done in just four days, and that’s a huge challenge for solo shoe customizers like me; it was almost impossible even,” Victorino said.

READ: UST Tigresses channel ‘Mamba Mentality’ in latest win

But the project was too special for that hurdle to be insurmountable. After all, it incorporated three of her passions: Design, volleyball and basketball.

“I love volleyball and I used to play [competitive] basketball too so [the project] was exciting for me,” she said. Aside from the sneakers being for the Tigresses’ campaign in Season 86, they also were Kobe 8s (ProTro Halo).

Chachi Victorino

Shoe artist Chachi Victorino.–Photo from Chachi Victorino

To solve the time-frame problem, Victorino approached the project with a perfect mix of artistry and practicality.

“The important thing I kept in mind was that I must keep the design aesthetically pleasing but simultaneously simple to make because of the extremely tight deadline,” she said. “I started working all night on the design layout the same day I got the call from the client.”


She didn’t have to reach very far for design inspiration. After all, there were already definite elements required for the project: The players’ jersey numbers and the tiger.

“However, I took some inspiration from the school’s team color and mascot and included a claw scratch effect, my favorite detail on the whole design,” Victorino, who has been customizing sneakers since 2021, said.

To put those ideas into the sneakers in a short amount of time, Victorino knew she needed help. And again, she didn’t have to reach for additional hands.

UST Tigresses customized Kobe 8 sneakers by Chachi Victorino

The custom Kobe 8 sneakers the UST Tigresses wore during a UAAP women’s volleyball game against Ateneo.–Photo from Chachi Victorino

“My brothers Chandler (her twin) and Kyle (younger brother) helped me prep the shoes for paint and helped me with the final packing,” she said.“I encountered many problems along the way, but one thing I learned during my time as a shoe customizer was that I have to be good at fixing my mistakes creatively to be a good artist because problems are inevitable in this craft.”

READ: UST player Bianca Plaza’s Kobe 8s go missing after delivery ‘oversight’

To streamline the process, Victorino used the “batching” method, where work on the sneaker is done by batch instead of finishing each shoe individually.

“Basically, you prep all shoes before proceeding to the next step, painting all of them with the first color,” she said. “Then, once all shoes are painted, you’ll move to your second color, and so on. It was doing every step over and over 28 times consecutively without stopping and getting your hands and mind in rhythm to be as efficient as possible.”

In the span it took to finish the project, Victorino slept as little as two to three hours a day. But the fulfillment derived from her work made the sacrifice worth it.

UST Tigresses kobe shoes UAAP volleyball

A close look at a pair of custom Kobe 8 sneakers worn by every UST player against Ateneo in the UAAP season 86 women’s volleyball tournament on Saturday.–UAAP PHOTO

“As soon as I learned that the shoes were for the UST volleyball team, I knew it was an opportunity I didn’t want to miss,” said Victorino, who plans to return to school after a two-year hiatus to pursue a degree in interior design.

And the Tigresses certainly appreciated her work, as they embraced the “Mamba Mentality” popularized by the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant.

“I think [we have that mentality] because we wear the shoes and all of us, in every game, we fight for every point,” said Angeline Poyos, who wore the customized pair on the way to a career-high 26 points as UST swept Ateneo, 25-19, 25-16, 25-19.

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“We need that mentality to win games,” playmaker Cassie Carballo, who lobbed 18 excellent sets, told the Inquirer. “That has been one of the factors that keeps us motivated.” INQ

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