Reshaping fashion into ‘atomic’ proportions

GLOSS THE RECORD - Marbbie Tagabucba - The Philippine Star
Reshaping fashion into âatomicâ proportions
Atomic’s debut piece the Happi jacket is a skatewear silhouette fashioned out of deadstock cotton twill fabric decked out with Jollibee and friends, hand embroidered by a small family-owned shop.

‘Atomic will always have some Factory Boy essence in her,’ says Fed Pua. ‘They are both inspired by my life in Manila and the different pop-culture phenomena I grew up partaking in.’

Creative director Fed Pua makes a ready-to-wear comeback at a time when the homogeneity of fashion-as-content is causing a waste (and taste) problem. Growing up on Sailor Moon, Warhol’s Factory, Japanese street fashion magazine Fruits, and early ’00s grunge, rolling with the subcultures of Manila kitsch and the New York hustle, his newest brand Atomic shines the spotlight on uniquely Filipino iconography into the nostalgia aesthetic.

The debut piece Happi “encapsulates the brand's soul,” Fed says, a jacket decked out with meticulously hand-embroidered Jollibee and friends. “I love appropriating imagery from my childhood so this seemed appropriate to introduce the market to our distinct Filipino point-of-view.”

Known among style setters for his pop culture-relevant curation at his (online only for now) shop It’s Vintage, Atomic was birthed by the experimentation he did at Rework, where he upcycled rare merch tees from the It’s Vintage archives into the sexiest lace-up and cheongsam crop tops and transformed the coolest vintage jeans into the Missy, a baguette bag that’s still as hot and trending as when it was first launched, now at the Atomic online store.

If Happi’s mix of iconography with skatewear is familiar, Fed points out, “The simple workwear jacket style was a nod to Factory Boy,” his brand of jackets, caps, and tees that he founded in 2016.

“I also decided on this style because the deadstock fabric we were able to source is reminiscent of Japanese workwear,” he continues. He spent a year sourcing and testing deadstock materials and sampling with different family-owned tailors until he was satisfied.

Eco-friendly without the green-washing, carrying on the Philippines’ history of working with denim in his own way (Did you know that Levi’s made some of its world-famous jeans in the Philippines until 2008?), he adds, “The jacket is made from deadstock cotton twill fabric that was carefully sourced and hand embroidered by a small family-owned shop that we frequently work with. It's extremely limited because of how little fabric we can source.” Every Happi takes at least a week to be made-to-order.

“I'd say that Atomic is the culmination of everything I've been through as a designer in a more cohesive and mature brand,” Fed says. “Atomic will always have some Factory Boy essence in her. They are both inspired by my life in Manila and the different pop-culture phenomena I grew up partaking in.”

The Missy is a baguette bag upcycled from jeans from It’s Vintage’s archive.

What to expect from Atomic? “More silhouettes from baby tees to accessories to outerwear,” he teases.

The changes at Atomic go beyond every piece’s look and feel. He’ll be foregoing the usual, seasonal collection. “Each piece created for Atomic is so personal for me from the design to the production process which is why I feel like each piece needs to individually shine when we drop them.”

Fans of the in-person shopping experience will be happy to know that a new It’s Vintage shop is in the works. “We're in the process of looking for a new space that works for us, but also super excited to be diversifying the product range (due to popular demand). I'll hopefully be doing another buying trip in a couple of months to finally source for womenswear (jewelry, designer pieces, and bags) which I'm sure everyone will be stoked about.”


Shop the Happi jacket and the Missy bag at atomicworldd.com


Hair and Makeup by JAZTHINE MANALOTO




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