while still the apparel of choice among street-sweepers and other blue-collar workers,
have now reached the height of sophistication. They now provide a fashionable
complement to anything - from ripped jeans to linen suits to stylish skirts.
t-shirts represent so many things to so many people. Comfort to connoiseurs of
casual wear; or saying to those with meager fashion budgets.
26-year old artist-designer Robert Alejandro, however, t-shirts serve as a canvas to
satisfy his graphic mind. His Papemelroti line of tees expresses at least three of
the things this guy personally believes in - the conservation of the environment, in being
a practicing Christian and in the beauty of the Philippines.
my passion," Robert briefly describes how he feels about his creations.
occurred to Robert that the Philippines has no "signature" shirt to be proud of.
"When you go to Hongkong, you can get a nice Hongkong shirt. In
Australia, you can get a nice Australian shirt. But here, there are really
none," he notes.
"canvases" are graphics which say, among other things - "Save Our
Forests", "Don't Bungle the Jungle"; "I am God's Workd of Art";
or depict a local postage stamp and the famous Philippine Jeepney. All these are
meticulously done in eye-catching hues on white 100% cotton apparels. To date,
Robert has completed at least 50 limited edition designs.
I am so excited with the prospects of more designs. I haven't given my all
yet!" Robert enthuses.
tourists are usually the first one to appreciate the Filipiniana styles. But the
local juniors market has now learned to like voguish creations. "In fact, they
write to us, suggesting this and that. And I write back, " he quips.
design are also seen on Papemelroti's duffle bags, cards and postcards, frames and other
go full time into this the garments venture took a lot from Robert. He had to leave
a promising job as an art director at McCann-Erickson. He admits he misses the job
and the fun that goes with it but he feels its high time to give a part of himself to the
things first. The family enterprise Korben Corporation, which owns the Papemelroti
shops, tops his priority list at this point. Plus there is his teaching job at the
UP College of Fine Arts. When they open their latest branch at the Robinson's
Galleria, it will all be Robert's. "And I have already ideas on how to design
Papemelroti is not a mouthful Italian expression. Robert has already checked with
the Italian embassy on that. Papemelroti stands for the first syllables of the names
of the five children of Corit and Benny Alejandro - Patsy, Peggy, Meldy, Robert and Tina.
All of them are involved in the business. Robert in fact, was the last one to
join the family affair.
matriarch, Mrs. Alejandro, in 1969, began sewing stuffed toys and marketed them among her
husband's officemates. Later, their small gift shop opened, with more items added,
among them, figurines, framed prints and decoupages.
were her first workers," Robert laughingly recalls. He says he was paid one
cent for every item he "antiqued". His sisters, on the other hand, manned
the stores and were just so thrilled and scared when customers would come in. But
things eventually were put in order. And Robert, and his family for that matter,
credits all these to one being.
always see God's hand in all of these. It's Him who directs and manages the
business," Robert stresses.
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