SLAM PH 1-on-1 with KD7 designer Leo Chang
SLAM PH Editor-in-Chief Mico Halili sits down with Nike KD7 designer Leo Chang to talk about the latest Easy Money Sniper signature shoe.
Just like Kevin Durant, it’s as if Leo Chang doesn’t age. I first met him during the launch of the KD 6 last year and he looks exactly the same. There’s the signature straight, long hair, carefully parted at the middle. There’s the shirt buttoned all the way up. The dark pants. And of course, that easy-going smile that said, “Hey man, let’s sit down and catch up.” Probably the only different thing about him this year was the new KD7 pair, in the ’35,000 Degrees’ colorway, that glowed on his feet. Otherwise, I felt he was the same guy who sat in the Seat Pleasant gym from a year ago. He changes by way of improving and adding on to his knowledge as a designer, for sure. But just like Durant, the athlete he collaborates with, he somehow never makes you feel like he has changed at all.
SLAM PH: Top three emotions you feel each time you see the KD7?
LC: Joy because obviously it’s finally out and we get to talk about it. I don’t really know if this is an emotion but I guess appreciation for everyone embracing it or for everyone trying to like it or not. I like the banter that happens. And then third, maybe a little anxiety just because it’s new and a lot of people haven’t tried it yet. I just want to see what people think, how it fits and feels, what people think with the way it looks, all that.
SLAM PH: That’s interesting. Anxiety. Like you still get a bit nervous.
LC: A little bit. Like you hope it does even better.
SLAM PH: You’re already on the seventh KD and you still get nervous?
LC: Yeah, of course.
SLAM PH: When you guys showed the ‘Global Game’ colorway for the KD7, there were a lot of oohs and aahs from the audience. I think people (in the Newseum in Washington, DC) today were really receptive to that colorway. Were you surprised?
LC: Uhm, no. Not really. Red’s a popular color, man. We used a lot of red and it’s a bright color and it works.
SLAM PH: I think they really got excited with the speckle on the KD logo.
LC: Yeah! The speckle’s cool. That’s different. Normally, you won’t do multicolor. Normally you just do one or two colors. But we threw together a bunch of colors.
SLAM PH: Aside from designing sneakers, what are your other creative pursuits?
LC: Creative pursuits? Definitely a lot of sneakers these days but I still love drawing. I still love photography, going around taking pictures and stuff. I like travelling, just to get out, see something different that’s not shoes or anything connected to our industry. Just to get my mind clear, you know.
SLAM PH: What was the last really interesting place that you went to?
LC: Let’s see. I took my ten-year sabbatical on my 12th year and I went to Hawaii. I just love the island of Kauai. It’s just so removed from even technology and stuff. Just seeing nature and just flying around. We got a trip around the island. We saw the beauty of nature. Everything comes from nature. Reconnecting with that seemed kind of cool.
SLAM PH: As an artist who works closely with Kevin (Durant), what’s your favorite part of his personality? Because the two of you collaborate so you need to have that connection.
LC: I think it’s like the way you see him now – he’s really just a nice guy. He’s so respectful. What I love to is that he’s always on time, if not early. I’ll get a text from his marketing guys and they’ll say, “Where are you?” And I’ll be like, “What do you mean where am I? The meeting’s at three right?” And they’ll be like, “Yeah, but he wants to meet now.” And it’s like two o’clock and I’m like, “I’m in the car right now on the way to the meeting.” (Laughs) Just stuff like that. I just love how punctual he is, and he’s always there, always engaged in the process. He’s just really respectful guy and a pleasure to work with. He’s kind of like me in that we’re kind of laid back and we’re kind of similar in that way.
SLAM PH: I’m glad you mentioned that. What else do you have in common with Kevin?
LC: We come from different places obviously but there are also similarities. He grew up with a single mother. I grew up with a single mother and all the hardships that come up with that. Also, the hard work ethic that we put into our work. I think in general, we approach life very humbly and we appreciate a lot of the things given to us. We had to earn it. We’re completely different personalities in a lot of ways. We come from different cultures but we have things that we may connect on.
SLAM PH: As a graphic artist, when you watch KD play and of course you watch his basketball games, what’s the most inspiring part of his basketball game?
LC: Inspiring? It’s just his silky smoothness. It’s crazy how smooth he is. It’s just effortless. Effortless.
SLAM PH: Like especially from 2014, what was it about his game from 2014 that made you say wow?
LC: I feel that he was unstoppable. He reached that point where he can shoot anywhere and just destroy you. With ease too. Just calm and cool. I sort of loved that.
Photos c/o Mico Halili, Nike Inc.