Viajera is a term given to entrepreneurs who frequent shopping meccas like Hongkong and Bangkok for products to sell locally. Business partners Jun Chua and Rod Lauredo brought home with them not only goods to sell but also a ton of inspiration.

The two channeled this inspiration into Fused, a menswear store that sells clothes designed by Jun and Rod themselves. The store, which opened at St. Francis Square in Ortigas Center just weeks ago, sells mostly shirts and also accessories like belts and cuffs.

Jun is no newcomer in the business. For more than five years, he and Rod ran a manufacturing business that supplies clothes for local brands like Bench, Attitudes and Octopus Army (remember Koalition Zoo?). “Then I got bored,” Jun says laughing, recounting how they finally decided to create their own brand.

Both of them fashion hounds and frequent travelers, the two are veterans already at scouring Bangkok’s famous shopping destinations like Pratunam and Chatuchak, and marvel at the large community of young Thai entrepreneurs that sells originally designed clothes.

“In Bangkok, we almost never go to department stores,” says Jun. “We are amazed at how proud these young kids are of their designs. We go there and sometimes we talk to them while they’re putting beads on shirts.”

That’s because Thai males tend to be more daring when it comes to fashion while Filipinos tend to be more conservative and conventional – something Jun readily admits, which may explain why tiangges here Greenhills still sell a lot more imported clothes that, sadly, don’t go beyond the generic, preppy variety. But thanks to the rise of the so-called “metrosexual” male, there is now a lot more room for design other than the usual oversized shirt and designer jeans combo.

“People now are more accepting of avant-garde designs especially young people. They want a lot variety, they want something that they don’t usually see,” adds Rod, who is “more of the businessman” while Jun, who also dabbles in graphics design, is responsible for designing most of the clothes at Fused.

Asked whether they regard themselves as metrosexuals, the two answered, “Yes!” with resounding conviction and are convinced that there is a big market of Filipino males (“closet metrosexuals”) out there who aren’t as self-conscious and prefer to be more unconventional.

The shirts at Fused definitely look unconventional, even in the sense that vintage T-shirts (including those featuring images of 70s icons), ideally worn with trucker hats retro sneakers, are becoming a lot more en vogue these days. There are initially nine designs with details like snap buttons and conspicuous stitching that evoke a “distressed” look.

Jun admits deriving inspiration from People Are People, which he has been patronizing for years now. But aside from being able to offer similarly designed clothes at a more affordable price, he envisions Fused as a brand that can address fitting woes of every Filipino male shopper who finds it hard to fit into clothes that don’t really cater to Asian sizes.

“Thai males are slender than us. Our shirts are still slim-fit by design but are made in such a way that they can fit us Filipinos who have a bigger built,” adds Jun.

Fused is located at the second floor of St. Francis Square, Ortigas Complex (behind SM Megamall).