Thursday, May 6, 2004




“My dream is someday dress every person who wears terrible-looking jeans,” jokes Ino T. Caluza Jr. , citing such commonly-seen horrors as loose pants with low crotches and bilbil-inducing tight jeans with overdone washes as examples. Despite being the designer behind Viktor, a local jean label which he created in October 2003, Ino insist that he doesn’t really know anything about fashion. “I just know what I want.” he says—and what he want is a pair of jeans that fits the wearer the right way,dammit.

This obsession for form-flattering, high quality jeans began while he was working as a graphic designer in Dubai and Saudi Arabia, where a generous salary enabled him to become a “jean collector”; he bought an expensive pair almost every month.When he returned to work in the Philippines, however, he realized that getting his denim fic was going to be a difficult on a local salary. Ino recalls walking into a store picking out three pairs of jeans and balking when he saw that the total cost would be around 20,000 pesos. Finding that the quality of cheaper jeans left much to be desired, he decided to make his own. What began with Ino using stones and sandpaper to create washes on an old pair of jeans eventually evolved into something more sophisticated. He took it upon himself to learn how to select fabrics at Litton Mills, Asia’s biggest
Manufacturer of high-grade quality denim which supplies fabric to Levi’s, Calvin Klein, Armani and Guess. Caluza also studied how to make a good cut from Rajo Laurel.

“I realized that jeans were a science, and one wrong measurement can destroy the overall effect, “muses this maverick.

Aside from signature touches such as V-shaped belt loops, red pocket linings and swiveling buttons, Viktor’s crusade for the perfect fit sets apart from the local jean labels. Ino likes to schedule appointments with clients, not only to discuss the jeans but also to get a sense of customer’s personality. This process can last up to an hour, sometime more if a client gets overwhelmed by the sheer number of fabric selections. “Viktor is different from the mass market stuff because I’m offering custom-fit jeans not just for a body, but for a lifestyle too.” Hence the tagline: Fitter, richer and happier.

Since Viktor’s first 25 pairs (which Ino refers to as the “Alpha_Test”versions) and the following hundred pairs (the “Beta-phase of course), Ino has bough his own machines and hired workers to speed up productions and match the number of growing orders. The “Kappha phase” is now in full swing, and the “Delta phase” is in the planning stage. How much for a pair of Viktors? About 3000 pesos and up, depending on the style and fabric. A bit pricy but there are perks: if you gain or lose some weight Ino will make adjustments or make a new pair of jeans, no extra charge.Also, consider the philosophy behind each pairs: “My goal is to enlighten people.”Ino says “it’s better to pay for quality. In the long run you save more money with a good pair of jeans you’ll wear forever than a mass produced pair you’ll eventually discard.

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