Factory Is the Vintage-Inspired Filipino Brand You Need on Your Radar
Designer Fed Pua describes Factory as a “dream wardrobe” that perfectly reflects his vintage proclivities and idiosyncrasies. The clothing brand is driven by a personal impetus, the need to address his own style, and its first creation was, in fact, a jacket Pua could not find anywhere. In Factory, the designer has found a space to challenge the notions of fashion with one-of-a-kind creations inspired by Manila, vintage clothing, and Andy Warhol's iconic Factory. Here, Pua talks more about fearless dressing, art and business, and fictional style characters.
ESQUIRE PHILIPPINES: Can you tell us how Factory began?
FED PUA: Factory launched in 2016 because I needed a jacket. At the time, there were no brands that incorporated Manila life with vintage sensibilities, which is why I decided to take it upon myself to make it. We launched with one jacket, a baseball cap, and a couple of shirts that were based off my idea of pieces you'd find in my dream wardrobe. It was received really well so I decided to come up with a couple more designs, which sold out pretty quickly, as well.
ESQ: What influenced you to pursue fashion, particularly vintage style?
FP: Prior to launching the brand, I never sought out a career in fashion. I launched the brand as a creative outlet and because I wanted to own these really cool pieces that nobody else had. The brand was also a kind of therapy to rationalize my love-hate relationship with my hometown, Manila, which Manileños will get. The idea of making the brand vintage-inspired came naturally as the majority of my wardrobe consisted of second-hand and vintage pieces.
ESQ: You were an Arts Management graduate. How did this influence your designs?
FP: More than anything, I think it taught me the importance of having an authentic voice. Tons of people produce so many artworks or lots of clothing, but have nothing to say. They all just end up looking like blatant copies of each other. With Factory, the message is as simple as being fearless in dressing the way you like and as profound as discussing the experience of being a young Filipino creative.
ESQ: How did the name 'Factory' come about?
FP: It's based on Andy Warhol's Factory, which was his New York studio where he produced art, superstars, and parties. If you look at photos, Warhol's Factory, was just so glamorous. You'd see socialites, designers, drag queens, artists, junkies, and wannabes all mingling and producing this amazing energy. It's nothing like today where style is so homogenized. I feel a kind of nostalgia for a time that I never experienced.
ESQ: What are the struggles of being a designer?
FP: It's always hard to strike a balance between art and business. You want to produce a piece of clothing that pushes the boundaries and stays true to yourself, while still being something that people will buy. At the end of the day, creatives do need money to continue their craft.
ESQ: What's your creative process like?
FP: It always starts with a muse. Sometimes it's myself or my friends or a fictional character I created. I sort of narrate their lives and personalities: what bands they listen to, what city they live in, what jobs they're probably doing, or what era they were born in. From there, I just create a wardrobe for that person. The designs come very organically and reference all kinds of disciplines from music to art to fashion.
ESQ: We've seen you play with pop culture. What narratives and design influences are essential to Factory right now?
FP: The brand evolves as I evolve as a person, which is why we don't really try to box ourselves with a single narrative or design concept. With our first collection, we referenced '90s Consortium rave culture in Manila, but our latest jackets referenced Karlheinz Weinberger's Swiss Youth. It's very fluid and democratic.
ESQ: You also look at the past as inspiration. How do you keep vintage relevant to the present?
FP: It's all about subverting a familiar product with a new idea. Vintage will always be relevant because that's the foundation of most clothes that we wear today. And at the end of the day, you can't break the rules without actually knowing the rules.
ESQ: What can we expect from you in future collections?
FP: The brand evolves as I evolve as a person, both for the aesthetic of the brand and with what we stand for. My team and I are designing the next collection now, and it will be heavily inspired by my last trip to New York City. For our future collections, we're also looking to become more sustainable, which means lessening production, using alternative fabrics, and finding more ethical suppliers.
ESQ: What else keeps you busy apart from Factory?
FP: I also run a curated vintage clothing store called It's Vintage. Our pop-up shop was received so well, which is why we are currently preparing to open a more permanent brick-and-mortar shop in the Metro.
ESQ: What are some of your favorite Factory pieces and vintage finds at the moment?
FP: The Factory Red Postcard Jacket is a dream come true for me. It's the coolest jacket I feel like I have created by far. I also bring the I Miss Manila Denim Jacket on all my trips out of town. As for vintage, I recently snagged an early '70s souvenir shirt of Pampanga. The graphics are so cool with these morena muses trying to climb a cartoon hand. They just don't make those kinds of souvenir shirts anymore.