EXCLUSIVE: How To Wear Off-White On The Streets Of Makati, According To These Stylish Personalities
Streetwear has come a long way from the surfers of ’70s Southern California and the Michael Jordan sneakerheads of the ’80s. In the past few years, the once underground subculture shot into the mainstream, experiencing a surge of interest from luxury labels.
American creative designer Virgil Abloh brings about a wealth of experience in fashion design, honed by his experience growing Off-White, his high-end streetwear brand. Though the Italian label is barely six years old, its Milan-manufactured clothes and accessories are widely sought after. The demand reflects the young brand’s success in straddling street and sophistication, just like its name reflects the gray area between black and white.
And if there’s anyone who can combine high fashion and streetwear for season after season, it’s Abloh. (Even TIME magazine recognized that, putting him on their list of 100 most influential persons for 2018.) At an interview last year, he explains, “Off-White is a reminder to be in the middle… My brand reminds me that it doesn’t have to fit in a box.”
The same goes for the brand’s exclusive clientele—they may have begun in one industry or another, but they’re successful businesspersons, endorsers, ambassadors, you name it. Whether it’s Kanye West (once Abloh’s fellow intern at Fendi), Serena Williams, DJ Hardwell, Rihanna, Beyoncé, or Gigi Hadid—you can’t fit them in a box because they stand out.
The same can be said for Jappy Gonzalez, the entrepreneur who brought Off-White to Manila. For the past twenty three years, the maverick businessman steadily introduced a host of cult classics and luxury fashion labels, not to mention the world’s best macarons by Ladurée. (In international circles, he’s been feted for his efforts, securing a spot in the 2017 Business of Fashion Top 500.) But this year, he’s decided to disrupt with Abloh’s creations.
And disrupt Off-White has. For while some might find streetwear intimidating, unsure how to suit it to their personality, these accomplished names from different fields lead the way in pulling off perfect street looks—balancing comfort and fun throughout their day, weaving stories and histories into their fashion. —JY
This boss girl doesn’t need much introduction—thanks to social media, it’s easy to keep up with what this Instagram celebrity is up to. Sunnies’ creative director. A boss girl extraordinaire. An it girl. (And an it bride). But as she stepped out of the dressing room, clad in a crewneck sweatshirt and medium wash jeans—an outfit that veered away from her signature feminine style—we all knew we were looking at a different person. Or rather, at a different side of Martine.
“I’m a girl at heart,” shares Martine, “but it was fun mixing up pieces from Off-White that were a bit more androgynous. I liked experimenting with different silhouettes. Each piece had such a unique, beautiful fit, and was a statement in itself.”
Martine found her own way of interpreting street style into feminine and chic—the chevron-printed sweatshirt she sported first had “WOMAN” emblazoned in the back. Later on, she changed into baggy denim pants and a shirt borrowed from the men’s section—a striking hot pink one. Of course, she has her childhood to thank for her taste in streetstyle—raised in Los Angeles, the celebrity was heavily influenced by streetwear. “Comfort above everything else governs my daily style choices. I practically live my life in athleisure and sneakers!” she beams.
So what’s next for the newlywed makeup maven? Even as she seamlessly transitions her wardrobe from feminine to street, she’s extending the Sunnies empire from sunglasses to cosmetics. The company is currently developing new products for Sunnies Face, the entrepreneur excitedly shares. To be sure, Sunnies’ rise to fame will just be as astronomical as Off-White’s.—HN
Street style tip from Martine: “I shy away from giving any concrete style rules, but a good one is applying the basic design principle of proportion. If you’re going short and mini, cover up on top; if you’re going baggy on the bottoms, you can show a bit more on top.”
Cecile Zamora’s outspoken personality precedes her, but we found her very approachable and down-to-earth. People recognize her as Chuvaness, a hard-hitting pioneer blogger who started typing away in the early 2000s. Journalists would be proud to call her one of their own, though her first love will always be fashion design. After all, she’s been wearing street style since the ’90s.
In contrast to the other ladies on the list, Cecile underscores how boyish her street style is, dressing “like a tomboy” because she relates well to men’s wear. (Originally, she wanted to go into men’s wear design to meet cute guys. Wink wink.) On top of that, she prefers neutrals, adding a pop of color in her socks at times. To balance out the masculine, Cecile tops off her outfit with girly bags. In the past, streetwear was mostly for men, she muses, but there are more street options available for women now.
Of course, one outstanding option would be Off-White. Even before the brand arrived in Rockwell, Cecile had already heard about it from a friend. She quickly fell in love with their bags—especially the ones with the iconic strap announcing the brand from a long way off—and accessories ("scarves", "tags", and "wallets"), buying them overseas to bring home.
Cecile explains, “I really find it funny when Abloh uses quotation marks. There’s humor in his clothes, and people who get it appreciate the clothes as well.” She has nothing but high praise for Off-White. “I love the men’s wear offerings and the unique staff uniform!” she gushes.
But when we ask about her blog, Cecile gets wistful. “Instagram killed blogging. Everyone has a short attention span nowadays, even me.” What’s up with her now, then? Her face lights up. “I’m a DJ now and I love it! The high I get is priceless,” she emphasizes. Right now, she’s into a broad range of music, from funk to disco, from house to techno. “I also listen to Virgil’s tracks online as well—he’s a DJ too.” Do you see how her life resembles that of Abloh?
Cecile promises us that before 2018 closes, a new iteration of the iconic Cubao bar Today x Future will be opening in Poblacion, Makati. “It’s amazing how God is moving me to different things that go well together,” she thinks aloud. After all, her design experience, business acumen, and mad DJ skills will all be put to good use in this new venture. And you know what? We can’t wait to hear her play.—JY
Street style tip from Cecile: “The shoes are an important part of the outfit. I love my oversize sneakers!” And though people might call you names, like hypebeast (don’t do that! It’s mean! she laughs), “just wear what you want without considering the brand. Make sure the clothes are good and feel comfortable, and you’re all set.”
Nobody can deny the magic at work when BJ Pascual is behind his lens. Known for his mastery of lighting techniques, he skyrocketed to fame in the past decade, earning a spot as one of the most sought after fashion photographers in the Philippines. He’s shot international model Coco Rocha, singer Troye Sivan, Metro Most Stylish Anne Curtis, and many more. But just like his subjects, BJ is a star of his own. An artist worthy of your follow. A style icon to watch out for.
The LGBT advocate and Love Is All We Need supporter describes his style as “experimental, pa-cute, and unabashedly effem.” To him, streetstyle is a practical way of expressing oneself—in his line of profession, it’s important not to sacrifice comfort. “A pair of pants with six pockets is super functional,” he interjects. “It’s comfortable to be able to lie down and shoot without having to worry.”
It was only recently that the photographer discovered street style and decided to reinvent his wardrobe. “Last year, I wore a lot of ruffled, feminine blouses. But now, I mix those pieces with streetwear—and I call that Hype Beks! It’s my new look,” he giggles. BJ also recently traded slimmer silhouettes for loose, oversized pieces. “I used to wear fitted pieces because I thought baggy silhouettes didn’t suit me well,” he quips. “But when I put oversized pieces on, they were surprisingly flattering!”
Just like his fashion style, BJ’s photography is also very experimental. Even as a master of the art, he enjoys continuously learning, trying out different lighting techniques every now and then. The young photographer and pride of Manila is expected to hold an exhibition in Japan in the coming months, too. (Since the exhibit is commissioned by a Japanese skincare brand, expect lots of skin.) With countless projects, cover shoots, and celebrity works up his sleeves, we couldn’t help but ask—who is the BJ Pascual muse? “What they all have in common,” the artist shares, “is that they’re all strong, opinionated women.” Well, what can we say? Like photographer, like muse.—HN
Street style tip: “People usually think that streetwear only looks good on tall people. In order to pull off wider pants, I use in-sole lifters! I put them inside my oversized shoes. They add a few more inches—wearing high waist pants with these will give the illusion of length.”
Julo de Guzman, Judd Figuerres, and Edsel Uy of Perea Street
Perea Street, a comedy series on streetwear, is the newest thing to break Philippine Internet. Young producers and filmmakers Julo de Guzman, Judd Figuerres, and Edsel Uy never thought they’d be catapulted to online fame when they posted their first episode on newly-launched IGTV, but that’s what happened. Even as the group dreams of meeting their longtime idol Virgil Abloh, they shared their humble beginnings.
For starters, the name of their online show holds multiple meanings—Perea Street refers to the unassuming CBD street where their production house is based, but is also a wordplay on street wear. “We can’t leave the street in Makati anymore,” jokes Julo. It all began when their work thread transitioned into a lively discussion of streetwear products. They eventually bought hoodies and caps from a well-known New York-based street wear clothing brand, and in their excitement, did an unpolished, impromptu unboxing. Unexpectedly, that first episode snowballed into something even bigger.
Despite their agency lifestyle, the rebel streak in this trio is palpable. Edsel tears everything down, saying “in work, everything is by the book. But here, there are no rules.” Their anti-establishment creative process gained them thousands of fans, who eagerly await their Monday episodes, some of which are shot while destressing between meetings. (Judd emphasizes that their day jobs together help them create content.) Meanwhile, Julo holds “out-of-the-blue spontaneity” responsible for their episodes, times when they go full-on silly. After shooting, Edsel’s editing magic comes in to deliver amazing videos.
As seen in the episodes, the modern-day musketeers integrate street wear in their lives in different ways. For former corporate guy Julo, street used to be all about sneakers. Judd tends to double down on the gym coach look, ensuring a less stressful day at their production company, WYD. Finally, Edsel usually dresses minimal with a clean tuck-in shirt, but dabbles in maximal looks too.
Perea Street deserves credit for bringing back the fanny pack, along with a hodgepodge of other pieces—baggy hoodies, chunky shoes, crewneck sweaters, utility vests. The trio also highlights how streetwear are fun, comfortable, and efficient. This is exactly what Off-White brings to the closet, along with what Judd calls the playful, relatable ethos that mocks, “don’t take me too seriously.” Julo adds, “It’s the irony behind Off-White that makes it cool. Abloh exaggerates things to the point that it gets philosophical.”
So what’s next for the boys? After Perea Street closes this season (with two episodes to go), they’ll be taking a break to come up with new content and plot how to get their songs in Spotify, as their fan base demands. The trio hopes to sustain their momentum and inspire netizens, striving to remain what Julo describes as a “snackable, daily dose of good vibes that makes street non-intimidating and happy”.
Judd seconds that, pointing out that at times, people interested in streetwear are “obsessed about collecting clothes, buying everything… It’s being a prisoner of capitalism.” In contrast, Perea Street just wants to “buy, enjoy, and share streetwear.” Whether the trio can continue to successfully straddle the middle ground between jologs and excessive brand-name dropping remains to be seen. But one thing’s for sure—we’ll be eagerly waiting for more of their episodes.—JY
Street style tip from Edsel Uy: “Try my go-to street outfit: simple shirt and pants, then carry the whole thing with accessories and shoes. Dress around one stand-out item.”
Street style tip from Judd Figuerres: “You want to be presentable and stand out, but not necessarily loud. It all depends on how you carry the clothing. Don’t worry about it, since the approach to street is more pedestrian nowadays. Street style is personal style.”
Street style tip from Julo de Guzman: “Make sure what you wear suits your job. For example, I use comfy cargo pants with lots of pockets during shoots. And it’s all about having fun. There are no requirements to be part of whatever subculture, as long as you are confident in yourself.”
Blessed with a swoon-worthy voice and chiseled morena looks, Kiana is Manila’s next up-and-coming singer. Hailing from a family of artists, she’s no stranger to fame. After she dropped her debut Grey last February, her fans scrutinized the songs from the extended play record, playing her love songs on loop. (They’ve even treated "Caught U" as a move-on anthem for those who’ve been cheated on.)
Since then, Kiana has been plugging away at a full-length album—she’s already halfway through. “That’s where all my time is going,” she quips. When pressed for details, Kiana clarifies, “I’m still torn between making it a solo album or having features,” but teases, “I want to keep potential collaborations a secret for now.” Kiana emphasizes, “It’s different from what people hear from me. There are love songs, but people are going to know me more. There are tracks about my personal struggle with anxiety.”
Just a few months back, she related (on Instagram, no less) her longstanding fight with depression, ending with words of hope for people in similar circumstances. Today, she added that in her experience, anxiety comes in waves—“you never know when it’s going to hit you.” But despite that, she indicates that talking about it is therapy in itself. After all, she’s got a great support system of family and friends to back her up. Nevertheless, Kiana shares, “every day is still a battle. But so far, I think I’ve been winning.”
In addition to her mental health advocacy, Kiana has an iconic street style. Her followers online know that she’s comfortable in loose fitting clothes and identify with her love for statement jackets and bulky shoes. Find the balance in all that, and you’d have unlocked her go to street outfit.
Though Kiana calls herself a “thrift shop junkie” who loves ’70s and ’80s styles, she admits that she’s a huge fan of Off-White. (In fact, when asked if she could shoot for the brand, Kiana immediately cleared the rest of her day!) For her, it’s amazing that the label is not what people expect. She cites the liberal sprinkling of “quotation marks” atypical of high fashion, novelties which the label manages to pull off.
At the end of the day, Kiana believes that Off-White pushes the boundaries, letting people question the fashion industry itself. Meanwhile, she dresses up in street before hitting the studio, ready to get that next song out of her head. Keep winning, Kiana, keep winning.—JY
Street style tip from Kiana: “I read that street isn’t about the brand that you’re wearing, it’s about the story that your clothes tell. That’s the way I style my clothes now—I wear jackets from my dad, jackets he used to wear in his concerts. And I love thrift shopping because the piece is used, it has a history behind it.”
Manu Sandejas entered the room with a contagious smile, an undeniable confidence, and a new hairdo. “I’ve always been experimental,” shares the former TV host and adrenaline junkie. He’s worn his hair half a hundred different ways—he’s rocked it Jesus-long, army-regulation short, skinhead and semi-kal, bearded and scruffy, and much more. The man’s hair parallels his adventurous life, which for the past decades has centered around two-wheeled vehicles. Graduating from childhood bicycles to BMX and mountain biking, he finally settled on motorcycles. “Admittedly, it’s a dangerous hobby. But I enjoy it,” he hypes.
Manu’s work as general manager of KTM lets him rub shoulders with other bike aficionados, riding with prospective customers to demonstrate just how well his bikes perform. The orange-clad manager is a true believer in the company—he owns two KTMs of his own, and never hesitates to bring them out for a spin. And whether it be road-tripping to the south in Bicol, conquering the hilly trails of Mountain Province, or dropping by the café for his caffeine fix, for Manu, biking is life.
Of course, Manu also displays his confident, happy-go-lucky personality through street wear. “My outfits are very basic,” he shrugs, “but I enjoy details. There’s always something going on with my socks, or my hair!” Working a customer-oriented job led Manu to focus even on the little things. “I like to play around with my clothes,” he goes. “Sometimes there are tiny details people will notice only when they pay attention—some stitching in the shirt, for instance.”
For Manu, street style brings together function, comfort, and fun—all key characteristics that Off-White possesses. “The line looks very durable and is highly functional. It works with my casual lifestyle, it’s definitely smack up my alley,” he affirms. In fact, the clean, mobile, and fashionable outfit he sported for the shoot isn’t far from what he wears daily. “I enjoyed the pants’ details, especially the adjustable belt.”
As his day winds down, Manu gets off his bike to step into the yoga studio. Even here, streetwear continues to serve him well. During the weekends, when he’s looking for fun or relaxing things to do with his family, his girlfriend, or his biker buddies, you’ll find him in the same too.
But Manu plans to tick a few more trips off his list before the year ends. “I get cabin fever when I get stuck in the office. I go antsy and can’t take two weeks without a ride,” he asserts. Most likely, he’ll soon be hitting the broken road that starts in General Nakar, Quezon, catching the glorious Pacific ocean-sunrise in Dingalan, Aurora at the end of the trail. Now that’s a trip that we wish we could tag along!—JY
Street style tip from Manu: “Have some fun—don’t take yourself too seriously! And make sure whatever you put on speaks well about you and has character. Don’t be bland and boring.”
Creative Direction and Styling Jappy Gonzalez
Photography by Everywhere We Shoot
Makeup and grooming (Kiana) Janina Dizon of BYS Cosmetics; Angie Cruz and Patrick Alcober of Make Up For Ever
Hair Russell Gonzaga of Aveda; Jof Fantone
Written by Joshua Young and Hershey Neri
Sittings editors Mari Santiago, Kate Paras-Santiago and Geolette Esguerra
Shot on location at 8 Rockwell, Rockwell Center, Makati
Special thanks to Kolleen Feria of H&F Retail Concepts, Inc.