02 October 2017

The Streetwear Comeback: UNSCHLD since 2007, till 2017 and beyond



I bought my first UNSCHLD piece in 2013. It was a dark blue denim jacket that had Alfred E. Neuman patched on the back and stylized like a pirate. It also had "MARAUDERS" embroidered on it. I wanted it in black denim but that was sold out. 

Words by Red Moraleta & Photos by Zaldine Alvaro

I was in high school back then. I wasn't the type to go out so I didn't know how to do many things that I've grown accustomed to now. This was my first online purchase. No physical interaction with the seller – just go to the bank, deposit the money, then the item's going to be shipped straight to your door. Pretty simple, but it was already a challenge for the younger me that hadn't done anything independently yet. For a lot of the more grown-up errands and tasks that I do now, streetwear was one of the reasons I learned to do them. Before I even had the faintest idea of what streetwear was, it already affected my life. The bold designs, the meaning, the enigmatic presence that the clothes represented, they spoke to me. UNSCHLD embodies what streetwear is and their comeback is further proof of what kind of impact they had on people and continue to have on them. Seeing them come back with a collection brought me back to my roots, like a lot of us.


The streetwear powerhouse was founded in 2007. The founders envisioned the brand to be an entirely different entity from the individuals who compose of it. To have a wholly different different persona. To exist on its own. Its name "Unschooled" is derived from their collective outlook in life; that the brand will not follow a certain school of thought. That it is self-taught. Stylized as UNSCHLD, the brand's beginnings can be traced to the early days of online selling. Their products back in those days were mostly graphics-centered. And where an actual physical shop wasn't present, Multiply was. (Multiply was an online social networking site that allowed users to share media. It was prominent pre-Facebook, it's where local independent businesses would set up their online stores for free. It officially halted its operations in 2013.) Operations were guerilla-like, its spread was by word of mouth. Clearly a formula that worked for them as they rose to prominence and established themselves. Now, they return perennially awaited by the community.


The lookbook, which was dropped in August 2017, brought out a frenzied excitement and anticipation for the brand that had wiped clean all of its posts all over their social media. Soon, a date for a pop-up was announced through an event poster. The strategic set-up brought forth a crowd itching at their palms to get a hold of UNSCHLD. The line outside Openspace – where the pop-up is located – started at around 1:17 PM and only grew longer from there as the afternoon went by.


I went around asking people about UNSCHLD. Both old and new customers had nothing but praises to say. Old customers told me their stories about how they got into UNSCHLD in the first place and why they anticipated this return. New customers shared what drew them to the pop-up.


Josh Subeldia, a long time follower of the brand, remembers idolizing Rjay Ty and points to him as his influence for supporting UNSCHLD. David De Jesus recalls his affinity with the brand which started from the Word Play events at Ronac Art Center where he would see the quality goods that the then Ronac-based store carried. (UNSCHLD had a shop in Ronac Art Center after closing Commune at Perea St., Makati City.) While KLTRD co-founder Mong Feliciano reminisces about UNSCHLD's early days in Perea St., where the same owners of the brand run the streetwear store, Commune. "It was the place to be at the time, around 2009-2010." he shares. All of them found out about UNSCHLD through physical interactions, one of the many reasons that made the brand's community flourish. While old customers experienced UNSCHLD first-hand, new customers like Argie Alcantara and Joey Coscolluela had to wait for this comeback release to get a piece for their own. Both of them found out about UNSCHLD when the brand was on hiatus, which is why they never got the opportunity to purchase pieces from the local streetwear pioneer. Argie, already wearing the cap he bought, says the wide variety of pieces and superb craftsmanship drew him to the launch of UNSCHLD's new collection. Joey tells us he found out about the pop-up from a friend and saw the opportunity to finally buy a piece from the brand he's only seen online. With streetwear and the internet fully acquainted, UNSCHLD has reached another resurgence for its community.


UNSCHLD's own – Julo de Guzman, owner, and Rjay Ty, manager, added a few things. When asked about the reason of UNSCHLD's hiatus, "UNSCHLD never stopped. Operations were always ongoing, it just seemed we were gone from the outside." they shared. And what more can we expect from the brand? "More streetwear staples that have the same trusted quality." they eagerly explain.

 

UNSCHLD's since grown from its inception, it is now revered as one of local streetwear's pioneers. Their humble roots of graphic tees have now expanded into full garments and accessories, so it's exciting to see where they're going next.


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