Manila Muscle

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        Before you ask, we already know: Manila isn’t really a certified fashion mecca. No editors, bloggers and Instagram-ers will be making bi-annual pilgrimages to this place to have their pictures taken see runway shows. In fact, perform a Google search on “Filipino fashion” and all you’re bound to find are traditional garments or an awkwardly out-of-place Prada boutique. The simple truth is, Manila is the capital of a developing country; and fashion, no matter how young, misunderstood or challenged, is one such development. It’s a tight, collective group of minds supporting each other’s works, holding the belief that success for one is success for all. They are the Manila Muscle, and we’re incredibly inspired by their ruthless creativity.

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       ”The actual shoot took the course of the entire day,” explained Paul. Paul is, of course, half the brain behind OS Accessories, a ridiculous blogger and, in sincere mushiness, a dear friend of Solestruck. “From 7:30 AM to around 7PM, we traveled through six or seven different locations. Before the shoot we scouted good places to shoot, but we didn’t get to actually work where we wanted because of permits.” Typical trouble for fashion folk terrorizing public territory, but things must get even stranger in Manila.


       ”We do get a lot of weird looks,” minimalism-junkie, Gold Dot creative head (and of course also a Solestruck friend) Karl says when asked if Filipinos generally think they’re, well, crazy. “Some even take photos of us when we’re outside just working or hanging out. It’s really funny: they don’t get how we dress the way we do for the type of climate we’re in.”

       ”Sometimes, we try to blend in–especially in the morning.” Paul continues. “Most of the time, out in daylight, I can’t be too flashy. But at night when it’s time to party–that’s when we really dress up. We don’t really care.”


       ”There are a lot of people in Manila, of course, but it sometimes feel like everybody’s divided into small distinct groups. I think what’s good is that a lot of people lately have been doing creative stuff: designing, photography, blogging, that kind of stuff. We share ideas. We help each other out. The Philippines is still a very small country, with barely any good resources for us to work with, so that’s that drives us to get our product out. Show the world what we’re capable of here.”

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       I ended our late-night (for me, anyway) chat with the most important question of all: why aren’t there any girls in your group?

       ”[Laughs] Maybe because the baby-gays are more intimate?” Karl replied, guessing for answers. “We do have girl friends, but we definitely have more gay friends.”

I’m still not sure what that means, but who cares. Viva menswear, viva Manila.

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click here to see Solestruck Men’s summer lookbook, MANILA MUSCLE