The Barracks At ArteFino Is Where To Stock Up On Gentlemanly Gear

IMAGE courtesy of ArteFino

Fan man Monchet Olives does not want to use the word “curated” when describing The Barracks, the for-men section of ArteFino 2018. The advisor, who has put together this new universe in the high-gloss Filipino artisans fair, would instead like to define it as a lifestyle experience with retail at its heart plus a sprinkling of activities, including, of course, ArteFino's famous bachannalian spread (slabs of pork fat, caviar cakes, all the cheese you can inhale).

But before we get to the good stuff, we need to take on that name. Monchet, who has a background in business development, wants to capture the attention of men of all ages, from the lolo to the dad to the teenager, and a great name goes a long way toward convincing a man to stop and shop.

Populated with clothing, accessories, furniture, and other musts like these straw hats, The Barracks at ArteFino is a lifestyle experience for men. IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

In Filipino, there is the kamalig, in Spanish, the barracas, and both can refer to a grain house, a staff house, or simply storage. In this context, The Barracks is not envisioned as what people usually imagine when they think of a space for the boys—a man cave or a den—but as a “cornucopia of things” from 30 local vendors, craftsmen, or artisans. Monchet also notes how barracks sound similar to barako, which just makes the endeavor of shopping more appealing for men. 


The strong Filipino (and Filipiniana) motif of ArteFino remains in the men's selections, but its intepretation is different. While your wife will look smashing in a fully embroidered jacket made from indigenous fabric, you probably will not. The direction for The Barracks is to select or produce (many of the goods are made specially for the fair) items that are “not too much.” 

Your dose of inabel comes in the form of a bucket hat by Ottomondo. IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

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Punch up your suit with a silk pocket square by Jim Weaver. IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

In the hands of Ottomondi, a bucket hat becomes the streetwear vessel for inabel. Jim Weaver, makers of hand-rolled scarves with wildy vivid designs, shrinks its scarves into pocket squares with not so wild nor vivid (but still beautiful) prints inspired by Filipino life. The cobbler Joco Comendador, who is known for out-there creations like an anime-inspired plastic mule, showcases more sober styles at The Barracks like the penny loafer and a brogue with a rubber sole. 

Tesoro's guayaberas are your alternatives to everyday shirts. IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

Of course, there are (a few) barongs, too. Tesoro's offers bespoke ones as well as ready-to-wear guayaberas, which are the options for everyday wear. Another alternative piece to consider is Rhett Eala's kimono-style shirt. Monchet envisions this as a cigar dressing gown.

The bespoke suits of Masanting Sastreria feature the surprise of a wild lining. IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

Also bespoke are the suits of Masanting Sastreria. This one has a cool origin story: While working in New York, its founder couldn't find a suit that fit well (leaner and smaller), so he learned how to do measurements himself and had one done. When a work buddy asked if he could make him a perfect suit like his, the seeds of the tailoring business began. Apart from the all-important fit, the highlight of Masanting's (handsome in Kapangpangan) suits are the linings—magical patterns reminiscent of Paul Smith. 

How about a pair of lechon or jeepney cufflinks by Kathy & Kathy Bespoke? IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

There are more things to explore: Monchet reveals a pair of cufflinks by Kathy & Kathy Bespoke on his barong. Done in the traditional style with a chain link (not a toggle) that connects two ornamental heads, the cufflinks come in clever pairs of, say, a carabao and a jeepney or a lechon and a cleaver. 

ArteFino is on its final stretch of preparations for its four-day run that begins on August 30 at 8 Rockwell. If all goes well, The Barracks will be housed inside a magnificent tent furnished by design masters Prismic and Bryll. (The furniture here you can buy, too.)


For the cool kids: Denim-on-denim, correct-length shorts, and camp-collar shirts. IMAGE: courtesy of ArteFino

Monchet points out how men often don't know what they want. They would ask him for suggestions, and he'd let them know what's tasteful and good and available, from hats to selvedge denim to a muddler (all available here, by the way), and then they'll go ahead and check out the pieces.

While you can't have a north star like Monchet on speed dial for every purchase, The Barracks is here to remove the confusing fuss of buying and present only the essentials of the good life.  

ArteFino runs from August 30 to September 2 at the Penthouse, 8 Rockwell, Makati

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Clifford Olanday
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