(SPOT.ph) The barong Tagalog counts as formalwear—and appropriate office attire, too—by default, but there are various ways to take the national shirt out of novelty and into the daily. It makes sense to ponder the way one should wear the national shirt in this day and age. Is it okay to wear it with jeans and sneakers? Can you play with color? Is it acceptable to wear a barong-inspired shirt or jacket? Can you wear it every day and not look like you’re wearing a costume?
The answer to all the aforementioned is an educated yes—but always with a discernment of the right place and time. With climate change becoming a bit too real by the day, it makes sense to harp on the tropical-friendly quality of the national shirt and make it as reliable as the humble T-shirt or a dignified blazer.
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Below are 10 labels that carry the barong Tagalog and barong-inspired pieces that you can wear in and around the city, every day:
Felipe & Sons
A favorite barbershop among the urban set, Felipe & Sons doubles as a haberdashery, offering custom-made suits, shirts, trousers, and barongs with a premium, classic touch. Pick from jusi-piña and silk-piña blends for work and cocoon piña and silk piña options for formals. They make inner shirts, too, so you’re covered from top to bottom, inside out.
See a list of Felipe & Sons branches.
Nestled quietly in a Legazpi Village backstreet is TIÑO, a tailor so steeped in tradition, it’s as close to Savile Row as you could get in Manila. Aside from creating suits that will last a lifetime, TIÑO is also a reputable barong maker. Visit their store along Benavides street and ask about having a capsule work wardrobe made—and perhaps pop by Lágrima for a taco right after.
TIÑO is at G/F Herco Center, 114 Benavidez Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City.
Diliman-based slow menswear label Orias Essentials offers resort wear with heavy barong Tagalog references. There are beach robes made with Ilocos inabel, short-sleeved barong shirts with ribbed hems similar to bomber jackets, and linen spread-collar shirts with embroidery that pay homage to the national shirt. All of them are far from being costume-y.
Orias Essentials is at 1470 Quezon Avenue, Diliman, Quezon City.
Long before Jericho Rosales rocked his fresh, farmer-inspired long-sleeved barong at the ABS-CBN Ball, designer Gabbie Sarenas had carved her niche among other dapper, youthful men on the local fashion radar. If you fancy no-itch polo barongs with anahaw, bougainvillea, or sampaguita embroidery, slide into the designer’s DMs for a consultation.
For inquiries, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or contact 0939-939-4227.
Is it barong by way of Indonesia or batik by way of the Philippines? Or is it both? No matter how you see it, Barong Batik’s appeal lies in the successful fusion of the barong’s genteel form and the batik's ornate visual cues. Barong Batik’s collections do not scrimp on color— they were designed with brave and daring men in mind.
The Barong Batik showroom is at Felipe and Sons at El Pueblo Real De Manila, Julia Vargas Avenue corner ADB Avenue, Ortigas Center, Pasig City.
A wide range of personalities—from Miss Universe Catriona Gray to Chef JP Anglo (for the Jollibee x DOT video)—has worn a piece from Wilson Limon’s collections for Davao-based NIñOFRANCO, and it’s easy to see why. Aside from the craftsmanship, the label works closely with Mindanao's indigenous communities. With cultural appropriation becoming so much more common, what they do is a welcome change.
For inquiries, e-mail email@example.com or contact 0917-716-7671. For more information, log on to Niñofranco’s website.
Araw the Line
Araw’s menswear perfectly captures the barong’s airy aesthetic through their choice of fabric and color on jumpsuits, shirts, and pants. This striped shirt, in particular, crosses the line that separates resort wear and casual Filipiniana successfully. Find more items of this kind on their official site or at the Tropa Store where they stand side by side with like-minded labels Carl Jan Cruz, Tropical Futures, and Leon Denim.
Araw the Line is available at Tropa Store, 117 Aguirre Street, Legazpi Village, Makati City and online.
VINTA Gallery reimagines the barong and plays with length to create lightweight tunics and exaggerated long-back dress shirts for a new breed of directional, global barong wearers. Each garment takes at least eight weeks to make, is ethically produced in Manila, and is sold out of Canada as a female-owned-and-run label. Check out their website and perhaps you’ll like their Ifugao raglan, too.
Vinta Gallery is available online.
Ilonggo designer Jor-El Espina’s ingenious hand-woven “bomberong”—a bomber jacket inspired by the national shirt—has been a regular sight on the backs of young politicians, stylish celebrities, and the ArteFino set for a couple of years now. He also creates T-shirt iterations of the barong that are perfect for the weather, together with jeans and minimalist sneakers.
For inquiries, send a direct message to Jor-El Espina’s Instagram page.
He’s dressed It Girls, society princesses, and beauty queens—and he’s not about to forget men of your worldview, too. Rhett Eala’s line of Filipino-inspired separates includes this jacket in piña-silk that would look good on stately gentlemen, edgy fellows, and history-loving folk as well. Other items in his collection include regional weaves and native flora and fauna on jackets, pants, and kimono tops.
Rhet Eala is at 316 Lirio, Palm Village, Makati City. His creations are available online. For inquiries, send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.