The holiday edition of the 2023 Bench Fashion Week saw Secret Fresh, Studio Bitto, and Human go out of the box with their newest collections.
Several brands and fashion designers have graced the runway of the Bench Fashion Week to showcase their latest collections—from runway debutants to seasoned designers and designers making their comeback. While a similar sequence has occurred at the holiday edition of the show this year, a set of brands have joined the pack with fresh takes on fashion that go beyond their usual medium.
Among those, two of them—Secret Fresh and BENCH X Bitto—were the brainchild of designers that did not come directly from a fashion background. Secret Fresh started out as a vinyl toy shop that has since expanded into a fashion and lifestyle brand influenced by the team’s interests and personality.
According to its creative director, Von Alcantara, “We are heavily influenced by our interests like art, sports, the secret fresh humor—I think everyone knows the humor of boss Bigboy [Cheng]. We just love streetwear and whenever we buy streetwear from Western and Japanese brands, we always say [that] this is nice but if I were to do this I will change this detail or that.” The “half-meant-half-joke expletive” humor that Alcantara mentioned could be seen in Cheng’s catchphrases which were often heard on his online food reviews.
Secret Fresh started out with graphic tees, parody shirts as referred to by Alcantara, before transitioning into a full-fledged streetwear brand early last year—taking inspiration from brands that they patronize.
For their collection on the runway, Alcantara said that it’s a combination of “everything under the sun” and that “there’s something for everybody.” Their show displayed a combination of patterns, logos, and pop culture elements seen on vibrant colored pieces.
Meanwhile, Bench collaborated with self-taught artist, illustrator, and muralist Anjo ‘Bitto’ Bolarda of Studio Bitto for the BENCH X Bitto collection. Bitto’s clientele include brands such as GCash, Shake Shack, Fjallraven, and Nike.
Various patterns and a recurring set of human and animal-hybrid characters have been present on Bitto’s designs even prior to working with Bench. These elements were visible on this collection that had a heavy cyberpunk theme.
In a video released on Bench’s social media, Bitto talked about how the styling was a highlight in bringing the collection to life. His show started with an introduction to the story of the Bittoverse, a futuristic realm juxtaposed with a nostalgic Y2K take in its styling. It’s a fusion of both the past and the future, ushering elements of what the world thought the new millennium would be through the design of the clothes.
Unlike the other brands, Human’s latest collection was creative directed by someone who has been in the industry for more than a decade.
Rik Rasos, owner and creative director of global clothing and design studio PROUDRACE, conceptualized the pieces that were seen on Human’s show.
Human has been known for its graphic cotton tees with contemporary designs along with bold and vibrant colors. For this collection directed by Rasos, the brand stepped out of its comfort zone putting denim as a focal point and exploring the concept of rework and fabric deconstruction; concepts which have been evident on the pieces released by PROUDRACE themselves.
Aside from the different iterations of denim that were displayed, Human’s holiday collection also carried elements of the Japanese comic art form manga that were seen with the brand’s signature hues.
This resulted in a series of colorful and bold looks that make a statement on and off the runway.