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Enrique Gil on ‘I Am Not Big Bird’ And His G.O.A.T. Sneaker

The 31-year-old actor talked with Complex Philippines about his return to showbiz and the growth of his style throughout the years.
Enrique Gil, I Am Not Big Bird
James Francisco

There’s a certain synonymity when it comes to the blinding lights of show business and the success of Enrique Gil, forging a path aspired by most, though only a select few can travel. 

From his television upbringing to emerging onto the ABS-CBN’s musical-variety staple ASAP, the 31-year-old jack of all trades turns a new page of his illustrious 16-year career, starring and making his producing debut through Filipino sex-comedy film, “I Am Not Big Bird,” released last Valentine’s Day 2024.

YouTube: Black Sheep

With Gil’s return to the big screen, he eyes a different approach to the craft, straying from his primarily rom-com distinction and awakening a personal passion for comedy and working behind the camera. This newfound growth saw the actor's colorful facets flourish, delivering a newfound persona—especially on the fashion and footwear front.

Enrique Gil talks to Complex Philippines about enacting a long-time dream, the changing tides of expression through redefining personal fashion, and his GOAT sneaker.

“I Am Not Big Bird” signifies the next chapter in your career. How would you describe this “new leaf?”

It’s more like my passion project. I’ve always wanted [to try] comedy before. I’m a huge fan of the comedy, horror, and action-comedy genre, so coming back sabi ko (I told myself) that if I’m just going to be doing what I’ve been known for doing, parang it doesn’t really make a difference. I just really wanted to cross out those boxes na hindi ko pa talaga nagagawa (of things I haven’t done). I did it, so I’m super happy.

Instagram: @freebiemnl

Kind of in line with transitioning on the big screen, how has your sneaker collection/style adapted in the present? Can you define your style for us?

Before I used to get those crazy colorways, designs, and patterns on shoes. I don’t know, maybe it’s because I’m getting older, but I just like the more plain stuff. My go-to sneakers are the “Triple White” Nike Air Force 1s. I also really like the new Adidas Infinity “Chalk.” I used to not wear a lot of white sneakers before and just more black or colorful shoes.

It was not the focal point of your look?

I guess so because I like wearing black attire now and plain solid colors, like brown, white, and beige. I think plain white goes with any outfit, so I just lean on white sneakers.

We got a “glimpse” into your sneaker collection, selling two pairs on an episode of Flip Phenomenal Sole. How long have you been immersed in the hobby and do you recall the first sneaker that got you into collecting?

Growing up in showbiz, I started dancing and performing on stage and I just noticed that everybody had these crazy sneakers. The first pair that got me into collecting was the Supras, back in the day. It was a skateboarding sneaker, but people wore them on stage because they looked so nice. [Justin] Bieber wore it, then Lil’ Wayne and Chris Brown started wearing them, so I was like “damn, I gotta get into Supras.” 

So then I had a whole collection of Supras. I even had my Tita in Los Angeles who I’d reached out to whenever there was a new drop and she’d send them over. “Tita papabili ako ng sneakers diyan.” Then there was this one sneaker that I think I saw Chris Brown wearing called the “14 Carat.” It was in all gold and super limited, so I couldn’t get my hands on it when it was released. Luckily, I was able to find a pair on eBay and I messaged the guy, telling him it was my birthday and stuff and he sold it to me for a great price—almost a steal price.

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Supra Skytop 14k Gold Perforated via Arrow Studio

Up to now, I still have those Supras, but the rest, man they’re long gone. I also have the X-Games Supra. It was like neon pink and neon green on black. I wore crazy colorways before, bro. So that’s what started my whole sneaker thing and then I got into Nike, [Nike] Dunks, and crazier shoes after that. I also got into [adidas] Yeezys. I have almost all the [Yeezy] colorways.

Ballpark figure. In your collection now, how many pairs would you have?

Oh man, I don’t know. Not that much though. At the height of it, including dress shoes and all, probably around 90-100 pairs. But the rest wala na. I don’t get to wear them so I just gave them away. I stick to the more plain and simple stuff but I still keep some for the memories and others I haven’t worn yet.

Instagram: @complexphilippines

Apart from the rare custom Nike MAGs from Mache, what other pairs would you say are your “prized possessions?” 

Right now, I have the Nike Air Fear Of God 1 in “Light Bone” and “Triple Black” just so I can have the white and black colorways. I remember it being so expensive, I got them at Flight Club in L.A. (Los Angeles). I had my mom and my sister buy it for me because I was here [in the Philippines] working. Even before the “Essentials” line became such a huge thing, Fear of God released two pairs of sneakers that were so nice, so I have those two pairs. 

I also have three colors of the Supreme Uptempos, though I’ve never worn them—gold, red, and black. I bought them in Canada from a friend. I never got the Off-White Jordans though.

You mentioned earlier that you changed your style, where you used to go with the super bright colorways and now they’re more neutral. Do sneakers in general signify anything for you?

Back then it was like swag, bro. You got to look good on the stage and that’s actually why I got the Nike Air MAGs because they light up. So being on stage, being a dancer, when you turn on the shoes in front of a whole stadium is an insane experience. 

Sneakers had to complete your whole outfit and your whole persona. [Sneakers] just gave you that edge when performing, which was the secret for me, just like my caps. Without them parang I’m not complete. It’s like you’re unmasking the hero.

What pair should everyone have?

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Nike Air Force 1 ‘07 via Complex

Must have? For me, I even told my best friend (Bubot): “Bro, you always need to have a pair of white [Nike] Air Force 1s.” I remember I was in Rockwell going around Zara and there was this guy who came up to me and asked where I got my shoes. And I was surprised, knowing I just had plain white shoes on foot. I told him that they were just plain white sneakers that I just got at Commonwealth and I was like “Go grab a pair.” 

You can never go wrong with white shoes with any outfit. So I have like five pairs of the Nike Air Force 1 “Triple White.” So kapag nasira yung isa (when one breaks), I have a fresh pair right away just to be ready. So yes, my must-have would be the Nike Air Force 1 and I think it’s the best sneaker ever made, given that there are also so many colorways, but I just go with white to keep it plain and simple.

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