Virgil Abloh of Off-White and the boys of Perea Street are taking the streetwear scene by storm

Photos by Andrea Beldua
Produced by Tin Sartorio
Shot on location at Off-White Manila

 

Street culture can seem pretty intimidating for someone unacquainted like me. But the folks who are deeply involved in it know that there are just as many people trying to break the “rules” as there are people who comply with it. If you want to change the game though, you have to master the art of being both maker and disruptor, and no one does this better than Virgil Abloh. With his brand Off-White, he appeals to the both “tourist” and the “purist” by not just making functional products, but a design that provokes thought as well. (Read: “quotation marks”)

To celebrate the launch of the Off-White Manila store, we tapped the boys of Perea Street (@pereastreet)—who are also making their own waves in the local street scene—for a dream editorial shoot. Judd Figueres, Julo de Guzman and Edsel Uy are filmmakers by profession under WYD Productions (whose office is in Perea St., Legaspi Village, Makati City, hence the name). In the streets, they’re known for dominating the local Instagram TV game with snackable 10-minute episodes about shoe game, icons, and living their best life in Perea and beyond.

“Hypemen”: The boys of Perea Street are decked out in designs from Off-White F/W 2018 Men’s Collection.

With only seven episodes and a few thousand followers, the boys have already achieved the kind of engagement most vloggers aspire of. Their biggest moment thus far? Getting noticed by Virgil Abloh when they posted a group photo of them sitting outside the then “under construction” Off-White store in Manila. This is a big deal because the boys are big fans of Virgil and his brand. “I think there’s humor in it. He’s kind of mocking the product itself but yun rin yung binebenta niya. Ang ganda nung contrast na yun,” says Judd. “There’s a tone of mockery, but there’s respect. In a way, may ganoong humor din kami.”

We talked to the boys of Perea Street about the importance of disrupting the scene, waiting for the right moment, and their love for Off-White.

 

YOUNG STAR: What is the origin story of Perea Street?

JUDD: A fun fact about Edsel is that ang galing niya mag-online shop. So if there’s a drop and we all want it, rekta kami kay Edsel. We forgot that we ordered from Awake and bigla nalang dumating (sa office). Sabi ni Edsel, ‘Guys, unbox natin siya. So lumabas kami sa balcony and we started shooting it. I think it was just coincidental that IGTV just came out. Gumawa si Edsel ng Instagram account (@pereastreet) then in-edit na niya. I think that was just the natural thing to do at that time. IGTV is something that’s unexplored. Di parin natin alam yung potential niya.

EDSEL: …but what we know is kami yung nag-pioneer ng IGTV. (Laughs)

JULO: We’re not saying we’re an authority in a particular subculture. One thing’s for sure though: we’re doing this for our pure love for streetwear. I think we use streetwear as a medium to showcase that good vibe mentality. Let’s all enjoy and take moments of laughter. It is needed especially right now in our nation galore. (Laughs)

JUDD: What we’re doing is not really new. I think it’s just the right combination of vlogging, unboxing… YouTube genres na minesh namin together subconsciously. We don’t want it to be rigid.

Building blocks: The furniture in Off-White Manila was designed by creative director and designer Virgil Abloh as extensions of his vision for the brand.

You guys are professional filmmakers yet the format of your content feels raw… but in a good way.

JUDD: We tried using HD cameras but parang hindi talaga tumatawid (yung mensahe). We really try to be as DIY as possible. Yun yung charm ng content namin. We want it to look approachable. That’s why yung audience hindi sila na-iintimidate i-cover yung ginagawa namin because nagmumukha talaga siyang madali. It’s also an experiment and a collage of references from TV and sometimes film. It feels like one long Instagram story. Episode six was actually an experiment. Our opening scene was long tapos tinignan namin kung matatagalan siya ng tao and parang okay naman yung engagement. It’s really fun to see how people respond to it.

 

What’s your process? How much work really goes into making one episode?

JULO: Imagine all three emes together… sasabog na siya eh. Sometimes we just think of a particular location or we just freestyle what we want to do. From there, lumalabas siya organically.

EDSEL: But (the moments) that aren’t according to plan are the best parts.

JUDD: I think the challenge for us is really time. We have day jobs and it’s really time consuming. This is something na hindi namin puedeng i-shortcut kase kailangan talaga naming mahintay yung right moments dun sa ginagawa namin.

JULO: The process of the jingle emanates from being inspired by the location where we’re at. (Laughs) It just happens. Ginagawa naming amin yung lugar kung saan kami nag-shshoot. Binabansagan naming fun yung location na ito dahil sa nagawa namin dito.

JUDD: Ganon talaga kami. Kahit di pa kami nag-shshoot as Perea Street, our stress reliever in the office is to sing and dance.

 

Can you tell us a fun fact about the songs you mad?

EDSEL: Our biggest hit G na ba kayo? was made way before pa.

JUDD: We had a project with Kim Jones, nag-edit kami for her.

EDSEL: I was talking to Judd about something then sabi ko “Direk basta G ka na, G na din ako.” Tapos biglang kinanta ni Julo. (Laughs) Na-LSS siya for a few days then nakalimutan namin for so long. But we remembered it eventually…

JUDD: It was really Kim Jones who brought us together. If she did not exist, we will not be Perea Street right now. When we have projects, nagkakaron kami ng Telegram group. Yung Telegram group namin for Kim’s project, naging streetwear group namin siya eventually. Di na namin pinalitan. Tapos sedan nalang kami ng photos ng sapatos…

Minty fresh: Each Off-White store is designed differently to create unique experiences for its customers.

What’s it like working with one another?

JUDD: Kami ni Julo matagal na kaming magka-work. Edsel just came to the company early this year. Julo and I have been talking about making original content before pa but this isn’t even the vision that we wanted. We really want to have a channel like Vice.

JULO: … uncensored content from the heart, from the mind talaga.

JUDD: We really want to do something smart, relevant. Di namin siya magawa for the longest time and when Edsel came, I think he was the missing link. I’m not saying mas inferior ito compared to what we envisioned before. This has its own value in a way. I hope it’s not a fad, I hope we continue the momentum and the entertainment factor. Our end goal is to give good vibes. When you need a break, you just watch for 10 minutes then ok ka na. It’s like a snack. Easy to watch. Parang pichi pichi. Kung gusto mo kumain ulit, bili ka lang. (Laughs)

JULO: Lola Nena’s… Ambers hits…. (Laughs)

 

What’s next for Perea Street?

JUDD: We definitely want to do a skincare episode. We like skincare, the girlfriend of Julo likes skincare…

EDSEL: I really want to get into skincare…

JUDD: Men really like to take care of their skin also and wala masiyadong nag-eexplore ng material na yun. But the core of it is always going to be street.

JULO: The attitude, the treatment, the humor are all inspired by the lifestyle of streetwear. I think streetwear is a mindset.

Off-White Manila carries Men’s and Women’s ready-to-wear, leather goods, and a large scale of accessories.

Virgil Abloh liking your photo sitting outside the Off-White Manila store was a major moment.

JUDD: What I like about Off-White is Virgil (Abloh). Yung product niya is really nothing new and I think he’s aware of that. He doesn’t consider himself as a designer. Yun talaga yung whole point of the brand: the vision of Virgil on top of everything else. It’s not about the clothes, It’s about what he’s trying to represent — a lifestyle that is very now. The whole quotation mark na parang recontextualizing everything is a fun concept.

JULO: What I like about Virgil is that he’s so empowering. He’s friends with Kanye, Don C… mga tubong Chicago, Illinois (read: Illini) na pinuntahan namin nung episode five para mabigay pugay at pasasalamat… (Laughs) Outside looking in, what’s amazing is how funny it is but it’s really true. You can be whatever you want to be kahit na iba yung background mo, as long as your love for that subculture is pure.

 

What about the Off-White brand do you resonate with the most?

JULO: Sometimes you get too fixated with the functionality of the product. What about the ethos? (Laughs) These are minuscule things you see everyday, but we have to stop and smell the roses. Humanity doesn’t do that anymore. Sometimes we’re too like ‘Oh, eto yung rules ng streetwear. Kailangan gawin ko ito, yung ganyan…Binali nila yun. (Laughs)

 

So binali niyo din?

JULO: Kailangan mag balian kase kung hindi, parepareho lang…

JUDD: Everything becomes too normal that it gets to a point of boredom. Kailangan talaga ng mga disruptor.

Follow Perea Street @pereastreet and Off-White Manila @off_white_manila on Instagram. Visit Off-White Manila in 8 Rockwell Building, Hidalgo Drive, Makati City.

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