MAKATI CITY –   A common love for sneakers and fashion drove eight college friends together to put up their own store. Nestled in cozy Perea Street in Legazpi Village, Commune is sort of an antithesis to much bigger retail outlets, and looks more like an art gallery for sneaker fiends.
As the name implies, Commune brings together a multitude of brands from abroad while promoting independent local labels like Secret Service and Dos/2. Christel Boncan and Kian del Mundo talk about how Commune started, fashion and philosophy and the economics behind the sneaker market.
What’s the story behind Commune?
CHRISTEL: Some of us have been selling sneakers online. Around 2007, some of the partners and I found ourselves in New York and L.A. (Los Angeles) and we saw all these stores and we wanted to bring them here. We were also sort of into the culture – hip-hop and urban. So we started our own store but what we also wanted to do was push the local scene. So we’re carrying local brands and we started our own brand as well.
What can people expect to find at the store?
CHRISTEL:  Right now we carry a lot of Vans. We like the classic, clean look. We also carry a few Nikes. We have caps and bags as well. For shirts, we are blessed to have a lot of good brands – Benny Gold, Diamond Supply, Black Scale, Mishka, IN4MATION from Hawaii and Know1edge from Hong Kong.  The rest are local and we also make our own stuff (under the label UNSCHLD). We’re bringing in a few more brands but we’re keeping it a secret from now.
How are you guys able to keep up with the latest fashion abroad?
CHRISTEL:  Blogs primarily. We just read, read and read magazines and everything we can find on the Internet  so we could see what’s hot and what’s good. I guess in the process we try to be tastemakers. But we don’t choose a brand because the design is good; we like the brand’s ethos and philosophy.  We believe fashion now is not just about design but the philosophy or statement behind it.
As a market for sneakers (in terms of availability, for example) how does Manila compare to Singapore or Hong Kong right now?
KIAN: We are still far behind.  All the regional head offices of Nike, Adidas and New Balance, for example, are located in Singapore so they get first dibs on the latest models. The purchasing power in Hong Kong is higher even than Singapore. So a $200 shirt, for example, will still have a lot of buyers there.
CHRISTEL: The market for streetwear here is still relatively small.
Aside from being a store, what did you guys set out to do when you set up Commune?
CHRISTEL:  We wanted to build a community where people can come together and share their love for fashion but also music and arts. Just last week, we held a live portrait session by a local artist accompanied by a live acoustic band. Basically, we want everyone to explore and share the love and passion for a particular culture whether in fashion, arts or music.
Commune is located at the ground floor of Century Plaza in Perea St., Legazpi Village, Makati City, right across World Topps.