Filipino fashion brand HA.MU’s free spirit reaches Japan

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By Joyce Reyes-Aguila

Not even the pandemic can stop the free-spirited Pinoy fashion brand from flying to Japan, spreading its wings to possibilities and taking in everything they could learn from the experience along the way.

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Maximalism/minimalism fusion for free spirits.

This is the underlying principle behind “artisan contemporary clothing” brand HA.MU. Established in 2016, designers Abraham Guardian and Mamuro Oki offer a unique take on fashion. HA.MU offers genderless, creative, colorful pieces to discriminating, if not daring, fashionistas. 

It was no surprise then that HA.MU was invited by the team behind the PHx Tokyo program for its 2021 presentation. The program is the brainchild of fashion consultant Tetta Ortiz-Matera who moved to Japan in 2013. Amid her work abroad, the former model sustained her efforts to bring Filipino designers to the Japanese market.

Ortiz-Matera partnered with Jason Lee Coates and Hirohito Suzuki of H3O Fashion Bureau and invited them to speak at the PHx Fashion Conference in 2019, “an event which brings the fashion industry together to discuss overseas markets and best practices on a regional and global level,” according to its official site. Coates is H30 Fashion Bureau’s fashion director, while Suzuki is the marketing and business director. 

PHx Tokyo reached out to Abraham and Mamuro in the last quarter of 2020. 

“We both felt flattered and honored when we got an e-mail invitation to be part of the program,” the designers revealed to Newsfeed 360 via e-mail. “We were also told that there was going to be a mentorship program as well that we know we can learn a lot from.”

The pair behind HA.MU shares that this was the first time an opportunity was presented for them to attempt to penetrate the Japanese market. 

“…the collection is the result of ‘nine months of conceptualizing, experimenting, late nights, risk-taking decisions, and heading forward with courage and curiosity all in one collection…’”

“We felt excited mostly because this has been something we have always wanted to try doing before. Back in college, we would sometimes talk about wanting to be given an opportunity that can help us tackle the Japanese market since we were always told that we had a market there,” the duo stated.

HA.MU, along with seven other Filipino brands, namely Bagasao, Feanne, J Makitalo, Jill Lao, Kelvin Morales, Lorico, and Neil Felipp completed this year’s list of PHx Tokyo designers. Abraham and Mamuro participated in panel discussions, creative talks, workshops, portfolio reviews under the program, all geared toward giving support to designers and introducing them abroad.

“Our favorite part was when we were challenged on how to stretch our design aesthetic with the idea of ‘ready-to-wear’ but in the eyes of the Japanese,” they shared. 

HA.MU offers genderless, creative, colorful pieces to discriminating and daring fashionistas. Photos courtesy of HA.MU

“(It was about) combining these two qualities and really focusing on our designs to refine them to fit the Japanese market well, while also retaining our original style. This was very important to us because we wanted to make sure we could have buyers and also penetrate into the Japanese market.”

The culmination activity for HA.MU and their fellow designers was a three-day showroom presentation in Tokyo’s fashion district from July 7 to 9, 2021 for PHx Tokyo, which is a showroom incubation program by the Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (CITEM). H3O Fashion Bureau, Ortiz-Matera, and CITEM collaborated for this year’s staging. 

“We felt excited mostly because this has been something we have always wanted to try doing before.”

Abraham and Mamuro described their PHx Tokyo collection as “quirky” as it “experiments with everyday silhouettes for you to play around with, while also making sure that you can mix our pieces with your everyday wardrobe.”

On the brand’s Instagram page, they intimated that the collection is the result of “nine months of conceptualizing, experimenting, late nights, risk-taking decisions, and heading forward with courage and curiosity all in one collection…” On the same social media page, Abraham shared that they “tend to be flexible when [conceptualizing] ideas and designs. We always try to think outside the box and just go wild. But we still pay attention to how all the details come together and we make sure that we are able to tell the stories that we want to share.” 

Snapshots of their look book show some of their offerings for the program: The Handkerchief Dress, The Bubble Denim Jacket, and The Ampalaya Skirt. All show the “creative rebellion” that the brand espouses, as well as the manner it “highlights a person’s individuality and idiosyncrasies.” On the PHx Fashion Conference Instagram page is a picture of HA.MU’s selections, including the brand’s swirly hats in different colors. 

“Our favorite part was when we were challenged on how to stretch our design aesthetic with the idea of ‘ready-to-wear’ but in the eyes of the Japanese,” the designers shared. Photos courtesy of HA.MU

On the brand’s main page are eye-catching, seemingly whimsical pieces such as those in the Sunny Side Up line that include a tote bag (P1,950), the Sunny Side Up Egg Bucket Hat (P2,100), Sunny Side Up Egg Coat (P6,800), and Sunny Side Up Mask (P720). Bag lovers should also take a peek at HA.MU’s crossbody bag (priced between P9,500 to P10,850) that can be paired with the brand’s leather egg wallets (P3,900 to P4,950). Ready-to-wear and artisan clothing offerings can be found on the brand’s social media pages, too. 

“This was very important to us because we wanted to make sure we could have buyers and also penetrate into the Japanese market.”

Let’s not forget that this year’s PHx Tokyo happened during the pandemic. Abraham and Mamuro consider having “had more time to be focused on what we wanted to do since we were at home most of the time” as the advantage of participating during the current unprecedented times. “The disadvantage was that we had to be more resourceful in how we sourced out our materials during the past months,” the pair revealed. “We also had to find ways to work during the lockdown period. We had to be wise with how we were going to source our laborers to help us with the collection as well.”

HA.MU’s designers saw an opportunity to “learn something new” through the PHx Tokyo program. 

“We feel we are not established yet, so we agreed to be part of the program,” they admitted. “We want to learn something that can teach us to expand the growth of our business. We discovered that we can be sophisticated and fun at the same time by balancing out the details that we have conceptualized.”


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About the Writer
Joyce Reyes-Aguila

Joyce Reyes-Aguila writes lifestyle articles for various national publications when she’s not busy with her day job in HR analytics and talent operations. She loves coffee, wearing black, and Super Junior.


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