Into The Universe of Jappy Gonzales and Carl Jan Cruz
Designer Profile

Into The Universe of Jappy Gonzales and Carl Jan Cruz

Shamz Top in Edition 0 linen denim (PHP 22,698) Yero skirt in Edition 0 denim (PHP 46,475), Free Cuff Jeans in Edition 0 linen denim with a denim Cuff (PHP 30,298)
Koji Arboleda

After laying the foundations in 2019, the partnership between Jappy Gonzalez and Carl Jan Cruz is finally revealed, exciting generations of Filipino fashion consumers.

Kim Bodice top (PHP 56,485), Garutay bralette worn over dress (PHP 46,215), and Kudah Basahan dress worn as a skirt (PHP 61,132)
Koji Arboleda

Jappy Gonzalez is simply 10 steps ahead of everyone in Manila. Though he loves and knows fashion, he would rather blend in the background and observe. He’s concise and no-nonsense, and when I talk to him, I always pick up something new.

This is not a surprise, considering his history with fashion. After all, Jappy is the founder of H&F Retail Concepts, a family consisting of multi-brand stores Homme et Femme and Univers, as well as standalone boutiques that include Comme des Garçons and Off-White. In 2017, he was named a member of BoF 500, a curated index of global fashion forces selected by the fashion media company The Business of Fashion. As of writing, he is one of three Filipino members on the list, and the only one based locally.

Isagani dress in black sueded silk (PHP 63,635), Liya Cuffed jeans in Edition 1 linen denim (PHP 28,798), Maison Rabih Kayrouz white bracelet.
Renee De Guzman
Miranda Slip dress in black crepe (PHP 35,898)
Koji Arboleda
Pamela Slip dress in Shine Pique (PHP 6,498), Yero ball skirt in cream silk chiffon, white parachute shantung, white poplin (PHP 84,955)
Koji Arboleda
Kudah Basahan dress (PHP 61,132), Simone
Rocha earrings.

Renee De Guzman

Jappy’s foray into fashion business can be traced back to when he was 20-years-old. He worked as a designer and buyer, and later, operations manager at Cinderella, one of the country’s leading fashion retailers at the time. Two weeks into the job in 1985, general manager Therese Coronel-Santos asked him to produce a collection, which would go on to be named JAPS.

“It was basically T-shirts,” Jappy describes his first fashion label. “Mostly stuff I would wear up to now. It has become my personal style.”

Cinderella was where he bought his clothes when he “couldn’t really find anything.” Perhaps it was this lack of places to shop that he decided to open Homme et Femme, what I consider to be the first legitimate multi-brand store in Manila, at Shangri-La Plaza in 1996. The idea behind it, in his words, “I grew up and needed more. But this time with better quality.”

To follow in 2011, was the Eduardo Calma-designed store in Rockwell: Univers. Over a decade later, it remains a place for new and exciting brands like Acne, Thom Browne, and Jil Sander, to name a few.

This November, Jappy Gonzales is excited to add Filipino designer Carl Jan “CJ” Cruz to the mix.

Student of the world

Andriana wears Teodora Silk Linen dress (PHP 150,475), Magalang Skirt (PHP 34,898), Maison Rabih Kayrouz black bracelet. Jo Ann wears a Kudah Basahan dress (PHP 61,132), Maison Rabih Kayrouz gold bracelet.
Koji Arboleda
Jan shell jacket (PHP 36,898) and Church long sleeve shirt (PHP 28,198), Maison Rabih Kayrouz black bracelet, Jil Sander triple gold bracelet.
Renee De Guzman
Yero ball skirt in cream silk chiffon, white parachute shantung, white poplin (PHP 84,955) worn as dress.
Koji Arboleda
Shamz Top in Edition 0 linen denim (PHP 22,698), Yero skirt in Edition 0 denim (PHP 46,475), Free Cuff Jeans in Edition 0 linen denim with a denim Cuff (PHP 30,298)
Renee De Guzman

Contemporary, Filipino, international, and “inter-barangay” is how CJ describes his aesthetic. It was his mom’s enthusiasm for clothes and looking for pieces during weekends that got him into fashion. It got serious after meeting stylist Melvin Mojica, whom he considers one of his first mentors. After a series of internships and odd jobs in fashion, CJ moved on to London College of Fashion where he finished with a Bachelor of Arts with Honors in Menswear.

“Every summer I’d come home to Manila and intern and do the menswear range for Eairth under Melissa Dizon, and in the last year of university, I did a stint at the 3D design studio of Phoebe Philo’s Céline under Norman De Vera,” he shares. “Simultaneously, I was developing textiles for personal use that led to setting up a very small studio in Manila, where my final major project for graduation was conceived. It was honestly a project that I planned to use for my portfolio, hoping to get a design job. But after getting recognized for the quality and design I produced, I started to consider if it was worth pursuing a brand.”


“It hits differently because we’re achieving something that’s constantly deemed as impossible, or is just
never done.”


After two years of making collections, clothes, imagery, and a business plan, CJ felt he had created an actual label. Since then, the designer has built a cult following of low-key but notable clients who appreciate his design quality and originality.

This creative growth did not go unnoticed: “I think CJC has grown to be a very recognizable brand that clearly identifies with our vision—original and directional.” Jappy tells Vogue.

While his products are stocked internationally in the likes of Maryam Nassir Zadeh in New York and 100% Silk Shop in Canada, CJ feels that being represented in an established and homegrown brand like Univers is special. “It’s a bigger deal,” the designer says. “It hits differently because we’re achieving something that’s constantly deemed as impossible, or is just never done.”

Pamela Slip dress in Shine Pique (PHP 6,498), Yero ball skirt in cream silk chiffon, white parachute shantung, white poplin (PHP 84,955)
Koji Arboleda
Jan shell jacket (PHP 36,898) and Church long sleeve shirt (PHP 28,198), and Runner trousers (PHP 32,898). Maison Rabih Kayrouz black bracelet, Jil Sander triple gold bracelet.
Koji Arboleda
Jo Ann wears a Panuelo dress worn as a skirt (PHP120,185). Andriana wears a Sanda Top (PHP 4,298), Pam slip dress worn over pants (PHP 6,498), and Yaggers pants (PHP 6,498)
Koji Arboleda
Shamz Top in Edition 0 linen denim (PHP 22,698), Yero skirt in Edition 0 denim (PHP 46,475), Free Cuff Jeans in Edition 0 linen denim with a denim Cuff (PHP 30,298)
Koji Arboleda

Coming together

What makes Carl Jan Cruz and Univers’ partnership monumental is that it is the store’s first ever collaboration with a homegrown designer. In 2012, Eairth’s Melissa Dizon produced an array of naturally-dyed organic cotton separates that were displayed at Univers’ shop floor. Coincidentally, CJ was involved in the design process of that very collaboration, through his role as an assistant and designer for menswear.

Their new relationship is founded on CJ’s “clear vision of style,” which led him to bring the brand to Univers in the first place.

With talks beginning as early as 2019, the collaboration remains a work in progress. CJ is grateful that their relationship has caused him to evaluate what it means to be a contemporary Filipino brand.

“I wanted to communicate that it wouldn’t be possible without my team; without building it over time,” the designer shares. “In the atelier, we love the conceptual pieces. but we want people who want to wear them. [The collection] is a celebration about wearing these pieces on the streets.”

Miranda Slip dress in black crepe (PHP 35,898)
Koji Arboleda
Kudah Basahan dress (PHP 61,132)
Koji Arboleda
Sain shirt in crosshatch voile and opis white poplin (PHP 37,298), Andy shorts in cerulean blue silk linen with Madam stripe poplin (PHP 39,000)
Koji Arboleda
Shamz Top in Edition 0 linen denim (PHP 22,698), Yero skirt in Edition 0 denim (PHP 46,475), Free Cuff Jeans in Edition 0 linen denim with a denim Cuff (PHP 30,298)
Koji Arboleda

The CJC team’s collaborative capsule consists of pambahay (loungewear) pang-okasyon (eveningwear) pieces that highlight the atelier’s culture. It is streamlined and more refined, and was intentionally crafted to have minimal to no contrasting elements.

In fact, if “rigid” comes to mind when one thinks of a corset, CJC considers “gentle” by focusing less on a cinched waist and more on a contoured hip.

The team also played with weights by using softer fabrics like chambray, and paid attention to what they call “deceivingly simple details” like a single seam on silk dresses. Even the tones are subdued, save for a pop of cerulean that somehow fits the palette. The pieces were put together by machine and by hand, though hand-stitching was more often employed.

Andriana wears Teodora Silk Linen dress (PHP 150,475), Magalang Skirt (PHP 34,898), Maison Rabih Kayrouz black bracelet. Jo Ann wears a Kudah Basahan dress (PHP 61,132), Maison Rabih Kayrouz gold bracelet.
Koji Arboleda

CJ hopes for the collection to resonate with the Univers audience, and at the same time, diversify CJC’s demographic.

“It’s really the hard part, having a clear vision and being able to actually manifest it to a marketable level,” shares Jappy. “I felt that in our spectrum, style wise, [CJ] definitely fits the bill.”

This story was originally published in Vogue Philippines’ November 2022 issue, available now.

Photography: Koji Arboleda and Renee De Guzman, Fashion Director: Pam Quiñones, Makeup: Janell Capuchino, Hair: Mark Familara, Model: Andriana Coronel and Jo Ann Bitagcol, Nails: NÉW Lounge, Producer: Anz Hizon, Photographer’s Assistants: Gab Villaruel and Wilson Ang, Stylist’s Assistant: Renee De Guzman

Editor’s Note: 

This version of this story reflects the correct and updated pricing for the pieces, which differs from what was published in our November 2022 print issue.

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