Carlomar Arcangel Dacana
The Daily Tribune
In a fashion show or any event he fancies to attend, he is a recognizable figure: tall, sharp-featured thirty something guy sporting a sleeveless white top and a haircut that may be described as military-meets-metrosexual. Fashion-forward folks and self-appointed trendsetters are attracted to him like ants to a lump of sugar. Effusive, he shake hands with them as they check out the pair of pants he is flashing. The girls, especially, swoon over his knowledge of stitches and fabrics (canvas, camouflage, cords). A few minutes more and they fall in love, not with him (perhaps, a little)but with his jeans. Soon they will go to his place and ask him to lasso them with his tape measure by the waist.
Ino Caluza, the designer of much-sought and highly priced Viktor Jeans, never had it this good. Before, he used to labor in a chilly office, doing graphic design for an inflight magazine read by by passengers dead-bored in transit. Now, he is making jeans for some of the country’s most recognizable faces tapping a potentially huge market that will not mind spending extra buck for a perfect fit of denim love.
‘Viktor Jeans began in November 2003, “ Ino starts. “I couldn’t find here the pair of jeans that fit me perfectly. Sometimes I had to buy or asked someone to buy pa, abroad. So I decided to design my own pants. My officemates got curious about my jeans and soon they started ordering from me na. They would tell their friends about it who, in return, would tell it to other people. So lumaki ng lumaki until the fashionista crowd took notice. It was until I was featured in F (the lifestyle show aired in Studio 23) that affirmed the fact that I am doing the business for real na talaga.”
The “perfect fit.” Just like anything ideal, ia arrived at with bit of hardship. The client would have to drop by at Ino’s studio in Megaplaza Condominium, Cityland Building, Ortigas and choose a fabric from about four books of swatches. After this, Ino would gently whip out his tape measure and begin his computation of the lower half of your anatomy, jotting down the numbers in a notebook just like your typical sastre. His two tailors based in Antipolo would then work full speed converting those numbers into something wearable. You wait for a week for Ino’s text telling you your denim is ready. You drop by his pad again to do the initial fitting as Ino does the adjustments. Once you finally get the hug you want, you wait another week for your finished, masterpiece of a pair of jeans.
“I really convince my client to tell me what they want. Once they come here, it means they want a pair of jeans which is more than just the ordinary. That’s what they are paying for—the fit. If they don’t get what they want, then it just defeat the purpose, “ trumpets Ino, whose obsession with “the perfect fit” seems enmeshed with his bachelors degree in Mathematics.
It’s not just the “feel” of jeans that’s outstanding, but the actual material. Ino sources his bolt of fabrics from Litton Mills, which just happens to be Asia’s leading producer of such, exporting jeans to Armani, Girbaud, Guess and other big guns. A curious detail in each pair of Viktor Jeans is the red pocket lining made from expensive US cotton. Ino says that though it’s invinsible from the outside, it gives a wearer a heady feel of prestige. Everything is fastened together with rivets and swiveling buttons all bearing the Viktor trademark.
Currently, the fashionistas are going gaga over the Viktor VX series. Priced higher than the basic Viktor jeans, each series boasts of a design element that will only be rendered on 50 pairs. So exlusive, they are numbered like art prints. The VX1 series, for example, is a play on stitches. Ino hid all the threads for seamless knock-out look. Another is a romance with zippers, adorning the jeans for strappy appeal. A fascinating series works with the rainbow shimmer of Swarovski crystals.
Although the clienst-visits-studio set-up is still very much preferred by Ino, the reluctant fashion designer says that he is setting his eyes on expanding the brand. A stand-alone boutique is what he just needs to house his denim creations, together with shirts and jackets that boast the edginess of the jeans. “Right now, I am just tapping about 20 percent of the market I can reach. Setting up a boutique will help me reach the other 80 with the RTW line. They will still be assured of a good fit and that the craftsmanship and the quality will still remain the same.”
It’s not hard to imagine Ino flying hight in the fashion firmament, manic as he is with things like stitches and fabric and in delivering the “fitter, richer, happier: result he promises. And that is, as long as his Viktor jeans continue to seduce people to get inside of them.