Sole CHX: Chi

I grew up in East LA, where the wrong shoe got you beat up.

I remember the first day I met Chi. She was not wearing sneakers. We both worked for the same nonprofit in Los Angeles and she was the new girl. We first met outside the office at an organization event where dresses and pumps were more appropriate than dresses and sneakers.

As we continued to work together I realized dresses and sneakers were Chi’s style. And she styled them with such ease.  From Prestos to the new NMD colorways, if it was comfy and cute she rocked it.

We sat right across from one another each day so naturally our conversations turned to sneaker talk. As we excitedly gushed over upcoming releases, I realized her collection spanned much further than the comfy shoes she sported during the 9-5 work hours.

Although I later moved home to Detroit for a new career opportunity, Chi and I still kept in contact. When the idea of chxwithsole first came to me there was no doubt in my mind that I wanted her to be a part of the team.

Aside from her dope sneaker collection, Chi is a dental hygienist, graphic artist, and aspiring art curator. She is the sole woman behind the chxwithsole logo design and has some exciting chxwithsole designs and merch on the way.

Stay tuned for all she has in store. In the meantime, take a look into the sneaker style of my favorite sneakerhead, Chi.

What  inspires your style?

I definitely go off how I feel for the day. I had a lot of influence from both my parents; my dad was really into basketball and played back in Vietnam, so I gravitated towards that baller style when I was a kid. My mom on the other hand, was super feminine and had very specific style rules that influenced me as I got older and I started borrowing her clothes more often. I definitely grew into a style of combining feminine and sporty at the same time; lots of dresses and skirts with sneakers and windbreakers.

How would you describe your sneaker style?

I’m definitely a Nike girl. I can’t help it. Their designs and color ways have always been eye-catching to me. But regardless of brand, I love eye-catching components on shoes. The Stranger Things X BAIT X Ghostbusters X Reebok Ex-O Fit Clean sneakers I got at Complex Con were of course throwback to the 80s and had these hand-drawn scribbles of Ghostbuster characters but what I really loved about them was that there was something to look at from every angle of the shoe. It keeps you wanting to look at the shoe. And if they’re going to be plain black shoes, let them be comfortable at least. If I’m sacrificing looks for comfort, I’m down. But only to a certain extent lol (never getting those nursing clogs medical professionals wear).

Can you describe your experience at ComplexCon?

I made a joke about ComplexCon being complex to navigate and conned you out of  your money and I still stand by that.  But don’t get me wrong, it was an awesome experience. There were so many things to check out; everyone was styling on everyone and it was just jammed packed with exclusives.

I copped the BAIT x Stranger Things Reeboks and that made my whole weekend.  But of course it wasn’t just about the shoes for me; with Takashi Murakami being one of the curators for ComplexCon, the art was insane!  There is no doubt in my mind that I will be back every year ComplexCon comes to LA, just get the VIP passes if you really want to drop some $$$ on some really limited edition hypebeast exclusives.

First pair you fell in love with?

I begged my parents for Timberlands when I was 7 after seeing all the boys wearing them to school, looking all cool with their flannel and jeans all baggy over their fresh tan Timb’s. I was obsessed and my parents got me a pair of knockoffs that I wore till my heels blistered from how I grew out of them. (we were never able to afford name brand clothing as kids, my parents came with nothing on their backs right before they had me). Flash forward to 21 years later, and I had to buy heavy duty work shoes and bought my first pair of real Timbs.

Prestos became my next obsession in the late 90s.

Growing up and living in Los Angeles you’re prime access to everything sneaker culture. Can you speak to how being in LA has kept you close to sneaker culture?

Living in LA there is certain -style/vibe that everyone is on.  I think the LA street culture from the 90s (I grew up in East LA, where the wrong shoe got you beat up) and just in general SoCal skate culture has always influenced most people’s styles and I see it in how I approach my sneaker collection.  Cortez’s and Blazers are my go to shoes most days and both are, in my book, the quintessential LA shoes.  (I can see that the Blazers could be debated against for “LA’s” shoe, but I don’t like Vans because they feel uncomfortable most times and the Blazers are the closest Nike’s that -look-like the classic Vans).  And LA is home to BAIT, Undefeated, and BLENDS as well as consignment stores RIF LA, FlightClub and SoleStage that keep you wanting to search for those rare and coveted soles, so it’s really hard not to fall into a dangerous obsession with sneakers.

Your go to soles?

For the daily: Prestos. FOR SURE. The best shoe I’ve ever had. They’re super comfy, you can walk and stand for hours in them and not feel as tired and sore as you would in any other shoe. And all the new color ways with the relaunch make me feel like a crazy collector.

For going out: Depending on what I’m wearing, I’m always switching between the different Nike Blazers and Cortez’s I have and my burgandy Adidas x Alexander Wang Skate shoes. I just love them all so much!

My favorite J’s will always be the 4’s. You can’t go wrong with the 4’s in my eyes.

Your favorite sneaker in your collection?

My Toro Bravo 4s. My boyfriend gave them to me for our 1st Christmas together.

What releases are you looking forward to?

I’m super into the Air Force 1 Jester XXs those look so clean! And I’m super excited to hear Nike will be re-releasing the Lebron Zoom 3’s again. I had those in White and Gold during their first run in 2006/2007. I wasn’t a huge Lebron fan but I really loved how the shoes look and I’m a sucker for Gold accents. Anything shiny will catch my eye!

Key essentials in your closet to style with your sneakers?

Dresses and skirts!!!

Advice to other chx who aren’t necessarily sneakerheads, but looking to buy or style sneakers?

Don’t box yourself into what the stores THINK you should stick to because it’s in the Women’s section; learn your size in Youth and Men’s and branch out. Some of my best sneakers came from browsing the kids and mens sections at Marshall’s and Champs. Also, get those dramatic, crazy-looking shoes, girl! Everyone will be envious of them. Believe me.
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