illest just dropped this tee in its Fall 15 collection and it got me thinking about my own past in “streetwear”…



Several years ago, I started this brand called Chicharon Adventures or CA for short. Some of you may know me from there and some of you probably let out a big laugh because the name was so odd (long story). My goal was to do this Filipino streetwear thing and it didn’t really stick. I struggled with brand identity, I went from a cultural direction to a whatever the fuck I want direction, and I focused more on the brand blog than I did on concept and design. All in all, lessons learned, money made, and friendships nurtured. Some of which ultimately got me to where I am today.

I was in college when I started it. I was a student of Global Communication and Political Science and was learning buzzwords like hybridity and globalization. So I came out with this shirt that read “I am a Cultural Hybridity. I have a Hyphenated Identity. I AM ________.”


Just like illest, I shipped out orders with markers so you could fill in the line that reads “I AM”. People loved it and I loved the kind of response I got. I thought that maybe people would just write their ethnicity, but I saw things like:

a DJ
a Slam Poet

It was rad and probably one of the cooler things I did with my brand.

I hope illest gets the same kind of varied response. It would be an awesome social project to see what all of you write on your tee (Mark, can we dedicate a hashtag for this?).

I guess not much has changed since I dropped that tee. Those same buzzwords are prevalent in media and in literature. And brands still come up with creative strategies for customer experience. What I do hope changed, however, is our progression in owning what/whoever we are.