Shopping ‘Outside the Box’

The Manila scene is currently exploding with pop-ups this season! Local fashion is alive and unapologetically feverish as revenge shopping continues to reign to jumpstart the holidays.

So, what do Zarah Juan, Jorel Espina, Vin Orias and Arnel Papa have in common? Four designers, four creatives and four brands are stepping “Outside the Box” — a pop-up space that started last 8 November and will end 31 December at the ground floor, SM Aura Premiere, Taguig City.

This amazing pop-up is a powerhouse cast of seasoned names in the fashion industry who have respectively popularized their own marks of distinction. Zarah Juan is well-known for bringing together communities, indigenous and artisanal, to produce quality products that every Filipino can be proud of.

Most popularly known for her statement bags, Juan has imbued each creation with a remarkable style narrative that makes them conversation pieces that are either symbolically nostalgic, cultural, historical, vintage and sometimes whimsical in attraction.

Arnel Papa is an industry pillar globally renowned for his fashion statement accessories. The celebrated designer, who creates high fashion costume jewelry made from local materials, has surpassed the test of time.

Jorel Espina’s “Bomberong” jackets (bomber jackets made with “barongpiña fabrics) was once the hottest must-have of a couple of seasons. This illustrious designer specializes in contemporary Filipiniana ready to wear.

The youngest among the group is Vin Orias of ORIAS, known for its “solihiya” detailing on bags and wide range of fashion accessories.

This trendy Filipino heritage brand has been dedicated to promoting Filipino craftsmanship and the art of tailoring since 2016. 

Two more young brands that have quite a following and popularity are Amparo’s Apothecary, a line specializing in making homemade handcrafted bath and body treats in small batches; and Alexander fragrances known for its perfumes (Nectarine and Mandarin Neroli) and reed diffuser (Pure Caribbean).

‘Creative and uplifting’

Outside The Box came about as an offer from Kai Fagara-San Diego of SM Supermalls under the leadership of Steven Tan to occupy a prime, ground-level unit at SM Aura Premier for the Holiday Season.

This was a golden opportunity for everyone to come together. “It’s like walking the extra (extra) mile and taking risks to go to the next level,” says Orias.

This collaboration is all about sharing and supporting of artistic exposition, pushing the envelope and meeting of the minds to both aspire and inspire.

Juan adds, “It means exploring new ideas that are creative and uplifting.”

Thus, a bond was forged to embrace the challenge and create a space where they could express their creativity, exchange ideas and connect with their audience.

“It’s an event where creatives can come together seamlessly and yet shine individually; a place that exudes intimacy among the brand owners, each immersed in the story of the other with overflowing warmth to their customers, giving them the feeling of knowing us from way back, like an old book from childhood or a favorite recipe whenever they come into our space,” says Amparo.

It takes a village to mount a great masterpiece. “Creativity requires the courage to step ‘Outside The Box,’” says Espina.

The super-fabulous store layout was designed by no less than the stellar sister duo Ivy and Cynthia Almario. Lush, fresh and captivating greenery were arranged by Sophia Barrios of So Fora.

Luxe antique fixtures came from the personal collection of Arnel Papa, who also did the fascinating window display.

The contemporary pieces of wooden rattan furniture and gorgeous Capiz lights were by Jed Yabut. 

“The beauty of “Outside the Box” is deeply rooted from within, says Papa, “It’s a gathering of creative minds formed by great friendships to create a positive space that celebrates the fusion of fashion, scents and styles.”

The pop-up celebrates a collective experience as designers in a beautiful journey where everyone pours their hearts to make the project a success even without knowing the future. All for one and one for all!

There is that sense of optimism, all-out trust and unconditional support that binds everyone together. It goes beyond the business of fashion and the work they do. After all, Alexander Barles ends, “’Outside the Box’ isn’t just a phrase—it’s a lifestyle.”