DANSK Loves Carl Jan Cruz

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Fashion designer Carl Jan Cruz has blown us away with his unfinished cuts, precise color combinations and soothing tailored silhouettes. Applying his concept of ‘somaesthetics’, the Filipino designer works and reworks remnants of his own past, negotiating them into series of constructed and wearable moments. A graduate of London College of Fashion, Cruz returned to Philippines to set up his brand and secure the best craftsmanship in the construction of his garments. With his own webshop succesfully installed, Cruz is again looking towards Paris and London. We sit down with the designer to hear more.
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What led you to study fashion design in London? 
It was more of a natural calling, cause of my Citizenship in U.K.
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How has the return to Philippines been, professionally?
My return to the Philippines has been interesting. It’s definitely made the career path of fashion design that I have chosen much more complex. It’s a very unique dynamic. Running a business and making a brand that is based in a city that’s not really a “Fashion Capital” is refreshing. It’s been nice to build something steady from here and gives me personally more headspace to look at the industry (in London / Paris) back with a unique perspective. I guess it’s the natural composition of Philippines. Slow and steady. It greatly feeds in to my aesthetic and what I stand for as a designer.
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Your garments have a distinct finishing and texture – with surprising elements incorporated into the very structure of the garment. When did you develop this methodology in your design?
 I feel that this developed aesthetics has always been within myself. It’s the things I picked up along the way with garments while going on with my day-to-day life since I was aware that I was inclined with design as a kid. All these wishful thinking, ideas of “If I could only do these with my favourite coat, favourite pair of boxers” or “These pair of jeans seams and fabrication should’ve been moved here or done like this”. And now as a designer I have the privilege to actually execute these ideas and emotions. Designing for me is pragmatic. It comes from colors, design, textures that I have personally tried and tested so I guess it’s always so “personal” wearing each garment (worn garments I couldn’t let go of since).
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 How do you conduct your research? Is there a phenomenon you continuously return to study?
 Deciding to create Carl Jan Cruz since it’s conception in my last year in university was greatly based on a dialogue about “Somaesthetics” with my close friend and artist Benjamin Madden who was studying Fine Arts at Chelsea College. I felt like I didn’t want anything forced. I wanted the aesthetic to come naturally. Which lead to a lot of introspection and mindfulness towards design. Carl Jan Cruz became a visual autobiography that still continuous on the design principle and interestingly in the business structure of the brand.
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The personal seems to take a central position in your practice. In what way do you draw on your personal experiences and memories in your work?
 I feel that cause the concept of “visual autobiography” this makes me circle in to articles that creates dialogue in between the past and present self of mine with things that are tangible for my design and development. Through a lot of “documented” imagery (family photos, friends, personal) to archives of clothing that I have had to things I have seen with people I know that I really appreciate.
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Do you work actively with the heritages of men and womenswear, or do you try to transcend gender-divisions in your work?
 Yes but I guess but maybe not traditionally. The heritage of “womens and menswear” really are more of personal archives from both.These are things I’ve accumulated and appreciated prior to creating clothes and I feel have been personalised and worn in a certain way; I guess the “gender-divisions” have been worked in from this. It becomes more of a rigorous development of a garment on it’s own with out the idea in mind that it should be for a man or a woman. These things for me becomes more decided when fittings come.
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How important is craftsmanship to you? 
It is very crucial to have great quality. It is a shame to have all these ideas and be not able to execute it clearly. I personally see this time and era where there are a lot of great technological advances in the garment industry but at the same time should be greatly balanced by something much more “human”. Touched and worked on.
What are the biggest challenges for a young brand like Carl Jan Cruz? 
Business and Creativity. I am at the time where in my desire and dreams are challenged. I want things to run in this brand smoothly and accordingly and it isn’t an easy task. I have been learning to prioritise and be able to balance the methodology of creative designing and decision making. To executively consider things not just for the clothes but the welfare of my company. It’s especially tricky these times where in the Fashion Industry has been shifting so quickly. Brands come out here and there. But I guess being aware about this really feeds in to the direction I see where me and my team should be headed.
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Where do you hope to take your brand in the coming years?
I don’t exactly expect where but to be back in London and Paris would be great as showcase areas.
I hope that as the brand grows, it’ll still have a soul and the same drive that I have. I’m sure it’s a long journey but it’s the joy of identifying with people who believes in it and strengthening the brand’s culture that’ll keep me going.
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Photographer: Charles Buenconsejo
Stylist : Melvin Mojica and Karen Bolilia

Twist Scarf Portraits:
Photographer : Miguel Manzanero
Stylist: Melvin Mojica

Models: Bruce Venida, Carlo Silva and Jo Ann Bitagcol