Proudrace has constantly subverted local fashion—by pushing RTW when other designers do not; by showing when others have given up; by moving faster than even global trends when others haven’t even a sense of the current. So it is no surprise that even at the fast fashion-slanted Bench Fashion Week, they rise to the top.
Their show opener centered not on a look (although an all black hooded figure did walk down the runway, prompting those around me to whisper excitedly that there was an assassin in our midst) but the voice of spoken word artist Kate Tempest. Tempest’s voice carried through the oversized shapes of casualwear— an anarchistic denim take on trench coats; balikbayan box design elements billboarding a sweater set; racer stripes boldly constrasting ‘90s athleisure—all the way to their finale: a single vision of white, a veiled woman in a white Canadian suit. She was, undoubtedly, their bride, their muse, their own icon of subversion.
In designing your collection, how did you take into account the Bench brand DNA? As Filipinos, what does Bench mean to you? How about as designers?
What we love about Bench is that they let us do whatever we want. They gave us the creative freedom to present to a larger audience what our label is all about. Bench is a retail icon for Filipinos. Longevity and staying true to their brand inspires me as a designer
And inversely, because we’ve seen a sweater with a balikbayan box print on it, what does being Filipino mean for you?
Rooting our label in the country really is a challenge but I always say that there is no place like home. It feels correct to be here. I’m proud to be Filipino I am resilient and kind it’s something that will forever ground you in the fashion industry.
What is your favourite thing about being a Filipino brand?
We are so resourceful!
Proudrace has always been more of a niche brand, more in line with subcultures and creatives, then mass market designs or more basic designs. How did you reconcile this with the idea of working with Bench? Would you say the market has become more open minded over the years?
Social media plays a huge part on what shaped the brand when it comes to appealing to a bigger market, mass market even so it’s not a new concept to us specially we’ve worked on projects that specifically targeted that market. But we wanna keep the brand an underground find for however long we can keep it that way we are happy with the market we have built for the brand. Start a cult following and do whatever you want is always a good idea. It gives us freedom to make clothes that we are going to be happy to present to the market that understands us.
Did any people or experiences inspire your designs—for example, packing your own balikbayan boxes to send abroad?
We’ve been creating the brand for 6 years and have always been around the elements that we were inspired by this season. The balik-bayan boxes, eco bags we use when we were still starting and shopped in Divisoria. Those little elements that reminds us of our roots and how we started as a label.
What classic Proudrace elements should we expect to see then?
Oversized, distortion and appropriation of iconic clothing will always be present in our collections.
What are your favorite pieces from the collection?
The bags that we patterned from Ikea and SM Supermarket eco bags!