Alan Maramag and Gregory Manalo, the team behind the beautiful suiting at Lineage SF, met 17 years ago as resident artists at Bindlestiff Studio.
“A long-ass time ago,” Gregory says, laughing.
Over those 17 years, Alan and Gregory have been active artists working through a variety of organizations, including Youth Speaks and Kularts as well as at Bindlestiff, where they were regular collaborators. Nearly two decades later, they’ve again combined their energies, this time to develop Lineage SF — the Filipino-owned, made-to-measure menswear project based in the South of Market.
“We took a trip to Pitti Uomo — the biggest menswear tradeshow in the world, where the best come to show off their brands — expecting to drink the Kool-Aid a little bit. But one of the things that we noticed was that although everyone's brand was amazing, they all really looked the same. And the other thing we took note of was that what made us stand out to people in Italy was that although we were impeccably styled and dressed, we were distinctly American.”
Alan, co-founder and lead designer at Lineage SF, explains how Americana plays a critical part in the Lineage SF aesthetic, and describes early influences on his style being rooted in one of the most iconic American labels — in both Hip-Hop culture and high fashion culture.
“I just really love stuntin’. I used to collect hella Polo Sport puffy jackets, rock carpenter jeans with the one leg up, and the five-panel Polo Sport hats, and the American flag sweaters and the Polo Bear t-shirts and all that -- my love for higher-end fashion really popped off with Ralph. And it's because that's what Wu-Tang and the Lo-Lifes and the East Coast culture was rocking at the time. But my dad wore a lot of Ralph Lauren, too, and he always said, "This is the best brand." Ralph really defines what American style is -- because it's not just preppy, Ivy League stuff, it's also business wear, it's also athletic wear, and denim culture, and rugged, outdoor wear,” Alan says.
At the same time, Gregory — co-founder and CEO of Lineage SF — stresses that it’s not just personal histories that are reflected in the project’s designs. The strong heritage of style represented by the first generations of Filipino gentlemen in Northern California plays a large role at Lineage SF, which sees all of its suits manufactured in the finest facilities in Italy.
“My dad was a tailor. And being a young boy it was hard for me to grasp what he was doing, but through the influence of Lineage SF I’ve been able to understand more about my family's history. So we’re also very interested in Filipino-American history with suiting, and it goes back to the early generations of the Manongs. And while we might not be directly advertising that we are influenced and inspired the early Manongs, we certainly are in our lifestyle, and with our community and our culture. We definitely cue off of that, and the early Italian styling that the Manong generation would have interacted with,” he says.
Alan also notes that the influence of contemporary Filipino-Americans on style and fashion — both during the critical period of the early 90s, as well as today — is a primary motivator for Lineage SF”s mission: penetrate the luxury market and bring greater Filipino representation to the realms of high-end fashion.
“Filipinos selling clothing, that's nothing new. Look at the streetwear industry. Filipinos have always kind of run it -- Hells Bells, Crooks and Castles, a lot of the illest streetwear brands that have come to prominence were run by Pinoys. But there's always been a kind of disconnect between the luxury market and our people. Just from my experience working in luxury retail, if salesmen see a Filipino walk into the store, they don't necessarily rush to help them — they don’t think that the Filipino family is coming in to make it rain in the store. That's just not the attitude towards the Filipino consumer -- and to say the least, it's unfortunate,” he says.
It’s an attitude that Lineage SF is looking to upend through the quality of their product and their continued deep connections with the community, where events like Undiscovered SF present Filipino-Americans of all ages — especially younger generations on the upswing of their careers — the opportunity to network and grow both personally and professionally in the Filipino community.
“Undiscovered SF is great especially for the younger Fil-Ams who might feel like the more traditional festivals don't really speak to their experiences. For our parents and our funny-ass uncles, they know the songs and the dances and the culture of the Philippines and it feels very natural to them. But for younger Fil-Ams l— who are now becoming the tastemakers and drivers of American culture -- we don't necessarily have festivals like those our parents' generation got to enjoy, where we’re surrounded by other like-minded Filipinos. Undiscovered SF is filling a void and it's a two-fold thing: Filipino-Americans in the Bay are representing hella strong with our brands and our business ventures, and we’re also contributing to the San Francisco landscape and scene, providing cultural experiences that everyone wants, and misses, and needs, and that are historically associated with our City,” Greg says.