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About those Balenciaga Crocs
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My son Ben knows me so well.
When I entered the room, he asked me, “Mommy, are you buying those Balenciaga Crocs?”
“Yes, definitely. What color should I get?”
Ben, 15, said yellow or pink.

Balenciaga Crocs
Balenciaga Crocs

“I’m kind of leaning towards grey. But if it’s not too expensive, I want to get a color too,” I said.

Balenciaga Crocs

I really don’t like purple

Balenciaga Crocs

And the black looks a bit benign. We’ll see…

Balenciaga Crocs

I’m guessing price point would be around $650. Just a wild guess from me.
I got one of those hyped Balenciaga “Ikea” bags because I really think it’s art.

Balenciaga Ikea

I also think Demna Gvasalia is a genius. I was talking about Demna with my friend Tere Henson.
Demna is the creative director of Balenciaga, and co-founder of Vetements, which is my current favorite label.

Demna

So the more the Internet made fun of the “Ikea” bag, the more I wanted it.
I feel the same way about the Crocs.

In 2011, I had dinner with Jappy Gonzalez and Mr. Enda Cleary of Comme des Garçons where I opened up the idea of a CDG x Crocs collab.
During that time I was all about CDG, and now I am all about Demna, so this shoe is really amazing.
So the Universe really does give me what I want. Or maybe in Balenciaga’s case, Univers will.

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Philippines’ Mark Gonzalez joins 2017 Business of Fashion #BoF500
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If Forbes.com has the Forbes 400, the Business of Fashion has the BoF 500—a prestigious roster of the most influential people shaping the global fashion industry today.
Based on months of research, data analysis, and nominations from current members, the list is refreshed yearly with the names of retail moguls and creative personalities around the globe.

This year, one Filipino—Mark “Jappy” Gonzalez—joins the BoF 500 roster as the Managing Director and co-founder of H&F Retail Concepts, Inc.
Since 1995, when Jappy opened the first homme et femme boutique at the Shangri-La Plaza, his stores and brands have developed a cult following of hard-to-please shoppers that look forward to brands only previously found abroad.

Mark Gonzalez
Photo: Patrick Diokno

H&F Retail Concepts, Inc. is an independently owned retail entity that encompasses multi-brand shops such as UNIVERS and Hoodwink, alongside 16 franchised boutiques such as Balenciaga, Fred Perry, COMME des GARÇONS, and Ladurée.

Jappy is responsible for the conceptual impetus and overall merchandising of the company, with 32 years of experience in the luxury retail industry.
Here’s what some of his friends and best customers say about him.

Carla

Tere
Philip
Mandy
Steven

To see the complete roster of the 2017 BOF 500, click HERE.

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Not for the faint-hearted: Vetements now at Univers
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It’s been a while since I’ve felt really excited about a clothing brand.
I can compare the feeling of European brand Vetements (pronounced “vet-mohn”) to the first time I encountered Martin Margiela in New York in 1993.
The similarities are there—from the exaggerated sleeves to the gigantic proportions.
And no wonder, since Vetements designer Demna Gvasalia did work at Margiela for more than three years.

Demna
Demna Gvasalia photographed by Dominique Maitre

But before he started Vetements with a team that includes his brother Guram, Demna also designed clothes at Louis Vuitton.
Most recently he took over Alexander Wang as artistic director of Balenciaga, making the brand once more exciting after a few blah years of Wang.

Now for the good news: Vetements is here, thanks to Mark “Jappy” Gonzalez of H&F Retail Concepts Inc., which owns Univers at One Rockwell.
The store carries a compact collection of unisex streetwear that includes Vetements’ collaboration with Levi’s (the first time the company has allowed double branding, said Jappy), oversized bomber jackets, sweatshirts, and T-shirts.

Vetements 2016

Vetements 2016
Vetements 2016
Vetements

The price points are not for the faint-hearted, in fact the Snoop Dog T-shirt costs more than a Louis Vuitton wallet.
I tried on a sweatshirt with extra long sleeves and a gigantic bomber jacket that is ten sizes bigger than me. I loved it. It would look great in Tokyo, but my boys would refuse to walk with me, and it’s not my price point.
I had to take a moment, sit down, and check prices online. Jappy’s prices are not bad, maybe slightly higher.
But in Manila, you can try pieces on and don’t have to pay Johnny Air for shipping.
I would rather buy here to support a Filipino entrepreneur who’s trying to make a difference.

For Spring/Summer 2017, Univers is bringing in the men’s line and more styles, including Vetements’ collaborations with Hanes, Brioni, Reebok and Champion.
“The prices will be different, lower for some of the items,” said Jappy.

Obviously, Vetements is not for everybody.
As Jappy put it, “It really is an attitude. You either have it or you don’t. Not everybody gets it.”

Univers is located at One Rockwell East Tower, Rockwell Drive.
Follow them on Instagram @_univers_.

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Japanese artisans at Univers this weekend
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“You look cute mommy,” Ben said to me while looking into my eyes last night. I was wearing new glasses—a birthday gift from Michael Concepcion of Ronnie & Joe at SM Aura.
I was wondering how the boys would react to my glasses—if they would think it made me looked old—so Ben’s comment was really sweet.

About two weeks ago I started getting a migraine on top of my left eye. I had my eyes checked with Dr. Alnette Tan of American Eye and got two prescriptions for reading and normal glasses.
A few days ago I started using the glasses—not the whole day but during times I felt like a headache was coming.
The glasses have been a lifesaver.
My eyes aren’t that bad, having had LASIK at American Eye 10 years ago. In fact, Dr. Alnette was quite impressed that my vision had stayed good that long. But this year I felt like the old age was creeping in.

Chic glasses are hard to come by. I get so amazed with people who always have nice frames—like my Uncle Greg Garcia and Jappy Gonzalez of Homme et Femme.
Yesterday I got an email from Jappy inviting me to check out nackymade‘s popup store at Univers this May 23-25 only.
Naoki (Nacky) Nakagawa is an eyewear designer based in Kobe, Japan who has made a name for himself by creating handmade bespoke eyeglasses. He personally customises each piece based on the client’s face shape, personality and lifestyle.
Naoki-san was busy seeing clients when I arrived at Univers around 4 PM.

Nackymade at Univs

He was assisted by his cute wife Tomoko-san

Nackymade at Univs

On the table are various frames that are available for sale

Nackymade at Univs
Nackymade at Univs

Plus some that are a little bit strange (Yoko Ono is a client after all)

Nackymade at Univs

Then there are many loose frames, hinges and stems to choose from to customise according to your taste.

Nackymade at Univs

Naoki-san is very effective in helping you choose a frame that will suit you best. He will also make sure the fit is perfect by measuring the distance between your eyes and ears.
Naoki-san and his wife spend six months in a year in Kobe, and travel the rest of the year to Hong Kong, Singapore, London, and Manila to meet the clients.
Bespoke glasses are typically 25,000 pesos each, but ready-made pieces may be purchased at Univers for 20,000.

Also at Univers this weekend are Takashi and Miki Uokawa who make clothes and accessories under the Tougher and Katano Kaban labels.

Tougher at Univers
L-R: Miki (left) and Takashi Uokawa with their daughter Mizuki

There are many pieces on display—both for men and women, with prices much more affordable than the nackymade glasses 🙂
Some of the pieces I liked under the Tougher label were these summery tops and dresses

Tougher at Univers
Tougher at Univers
Tougher at Univers
Tougher at Univers

Under Katano Kaban, I liked the circular bags that turned from this

Katano Kaban

to this—well, in a different colour, but you get the idea.

Tina Ong

Meet the Japanese artisans at Univers, One Rockwell East Tower, Rockwell Drive this May 23-25, 2014 from 10 AM to 7 PM. For inquiries call 553-6811 or 553-6881.

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