With designs akin to those you’d spot hanging off the racks of thrift stores — quirky, well-designed, and lived in — Tomorrow has been making rounds online. Barely a week old and gaining traction quite fast, this brand that “offers culture and optimism in the form of t-shirts” has got us hooked.
Andrew Panopio is a designer and art director by day, and a guitarist from the band She’s Only Sixteen by night. Tim Lopez works as a designer for And A Half Branding and Design Studio and offers illustration and brand consultation services on the side. Together, they run Tomorrow. Here, they share their affinity for the basic tee and their plans for tomorrow.
Have you always been into fashion?
T: Can’t really say I’m actively into fashion. I like clothes with character and little intricacies –things that stay with you. I like the way Tyler, the Creator approaches fashion. I love it when clothes are extra durable and waterproof.
A: Well. I’m at least into whatever looks good for the day. [In terms of] fashion, I’m always looking for clothes that would last but still feel gritty. I look up to the style of Mac DeMarco and The Strokes – they’re so well put-together yet unique. But I’ve always been interested in t-shirts that come up with such lovable but simple designs – like the ones you find at Uniqlo. I also love looking through ukay-ukay stores. You find so much gold there!
T: I love the surprise of finding those little ukay gems! They always seem to throw you off guard. The shirts I get are kinda strange, off, but never appalling or jarring. They feel like shirts I’ve always had on me.
A: My favorite shirts have those mid-western, obscure, “team-building of ‘94″ designs. I have this one shirt I found in Baguio that has the Walmart logo on the left breast pocket area and on the back there’s a picture of a mountain range at sunset with horses running through the field. At the bottom it says ‘Team “Always” Driven.’ How can you not fall in love with that? I guess we wanted to make clothing that allowed people to express their interest for the art on the clothing – nothing that takes too much thinking, just real sparks of interest. I don’t know how to explain it.
Do either of you have experience in retail?
A: None! I minored in management in college so, for this project, I get to practice my accounting skills at the very least. Right now we’re using my car as the stock room for the shirts.
T: Early in college I briefly had a business with a classmate from high school selling custom made shoes from Marikina! Business was quite slow. Maybe I could work on that with him again someday.
What, then, made you decide to put up a fashion brand of sorts?
A: I really believe we could make good, sincerely relatable clothing. I wanna be that shirt people wear when they’re older and they’re reminiscing about the good ol’ days. Also, fashion seems like a great intersection between art appreciation and self-expression for the wearer.
T: We had a really strong thing going, and fashion felt like the best avenue for what we were trying to say. We set ourselves for the day in what we wear. Our clothes can give us direction, protection, and confidence. Our message easily becomes a part of you when you wear it.
With different forms of clothing, why did you decide to primarily focus on providing t-shirts?
T: Shirts felt really simple and straightforward, but that’s also the challenge of working with shirts: giving more value and meaning to something you can practically wear everyday so flexibly and regularly. We wanted to make something you can really warm up to and relate with.
A: We have lots of plans for the brand – maybe even stemming outside of fashion. The first step of going for t-shirts just felt so right for some reason. In essence, we envision being a brand that is relaxed, sincere, and, as cheesy as it sounds, we want people to feel comfortable being themselves with Tomorrow. T-shirts are for the brave, I think. Choosing to wear less can be daunting – so we designed t-shirts that look and feel super casual – enough to wear at home and enough to take on the day.
What are your inspirations or influences in creating this brand?
A: We are heavily influenced by clothes we find at thrift stores. A big part of how we went with this direction came from dissecting the feeling we get from finding shirts we like in the store racks.
T: There isn’t a distinct look to them exactly. They range from strange US state shirts to Hawaiian café staff shirts. It’s more of the experience that we were trying to replicate with our shirts.
A: We’re always looking for that *something* in what we create – you’re confused about what it is yet you can’t help but feel attached to it.
What’s the story behind the brand name? Why it is called “Tomorrow”?
T: We wanted something that would sound positive and optimistic. I guess it stemmed from our struggles working and freelancing as designers. I recalled something my Philosophy professor said. It’s actually funny because I failed his class. It was from our lesson on the phenomenology of hope. He said that people who don’t sleep don’t know how to hope. We can only do so much as people because this is what we are. When we’re done for the day, we should let go of things, sleep, forgive ourselves for what we’ve done and what we couldn’t have done, and surrender ourselves to tomorrow.
A: Ever since then, it just kept ringing so smoothly with us. Tomorrow is a dream, tomorrow for sure, tomorrow tomorrow. Maybe we’re starting a cult.
T: It’s already in your everyday vocabulary. You’re already seeing, speaking, and living the brand.
What makes Tomorrow’s t-shirts different from other usual tees?
A: I’d say we always question the personal dialogue between the wearer and the clothing design. We suggest Tomorrow in a good light – like a sunset or a gig you’ve been to, but we can’t force anything further than that. We also try to keep the designs simple but bold – to stand the test of time and to make sure people keep wearing the shirts until they’re 40.
T: They’re very obscure designs. They’re very open to interpretation. It’s a sunset, it’s a sunrise, it’s a label from the 80’s, whatever you make of it. What’s important is you’re making something of it.
Describe the brand’s identity in three words.
A: Positive, hopeful, optimistic.
T: Tomorrow’s actually pretty personal to us that way. It’s positive because we want to make sure that it’s always a delight encountering Tomorrow. It’s hopeful because we know Tomorrow can be bad, but that shouldn’t keep you from looking forward to it. We’re sincere because what we say, our message, the things we talk about, we go through them on a daily basis.
For the first collection, “You’re Always A Day Away,” what was the inspiration?
A: ‘You’re Always A Day Away’ kind of describes the dialogue we have with uttering ‘tomorrow’ – you never really experience ‘tomorrow’ since it’s always going to be a day after the present. It sparks longingness, hope, optimism.
T: Before the event, people always thought Tomorrow Night was happening on the day after they find out about the event. It was literally always and perpetually a day away for some.
A: Well, as for the clothing, this was our first collection and we wanted to present ourselves in different faces. One face was the sincere, real-life associability of Tomorrow – thus making the Tomorrow Night t-shirts, and the gig itself. The other shirt called “A New Day” was the message we wanted to put forward which was, to be optimistic about Tomorrow. The embroidered shirt just felt like an iconic shirt we wanted to play with!
Are the prints and embroidery of the t-shirts done locally? How did you end up with these prints and embroidery as final designs for the production?
A: Yes they are! We scrambled quite a bit looking for these suppliers.
T: We had a lot of designs in mind actually, but the three shirts felt like the right mix to get the brand started. They’re not exactly the most cohesive set, but we wanted to introduce what we are in just the right light.
The launch of Tomorrow was held at Route 196, an iconic place in the local music scene. Does music influence Tomorrow heavily as a brand?
T: I think it actually does have an impact on our brand. From the start we didn’t want Tomorrow to be confined to shirts. Branding an event entails branding a memory, and we want you to have memories of Tomorrow beyond the shirts. The bands that play, the music we share, that’s what Tomorrow sounds like. We wanted people to have a good time and dance a lot!
A: Route felt like home for us as a place where people could enjoy themselves and relax.
Aside from being defined as a t-shirt brand, what is Tomorrow?
A: I hate calling it this, but we are, or we plan to be, a lifestyle brand. We are a brand that openly discusses thoughts on life, interests, and culture.
What’s next for Tomorrow? What are things to expect from Tomorrow?
A: We are still going though this whole thing day-by-day. But it’s okay! We have big dreams for the brand – barbecues, cartoons, chili sauce, public pools, so many things. It’s exciting because we don’t want to limit ourselves. Until then, you can expect different kinds of clothing from us – hats, jackets, underwear maybe.
T: Yeah! You can definitely expect a lot more content from us apart from our next collection. A lot of our plans we just talk about in passing when we’re hanging out or drinking, and it’s really fulfilling that we’re actually making them happen.
A: I wanna make a super band called The Tomorrow Band where we have a bunch of musicians from different backgrounds making music. You can bet our merch will be off the heezy (laughs).
T: I want Tomorrow to have a park someday. An easy place where people can unwind, get light drinks maybe, walk their dogs, lie back, watch a sunset. A huge space where you can just be. Too bad we can’t call it Tomorrowland.