BENCH turns 27 this month. As a salute to the Filipino brand, B/BLOG pays tribute to its very first product and the core of every person’s wardrobe: the basic white t-shirt.
To reflect the label’s very foundation, we called upon newspaper youth section Young Star to proclaim a new wave of people whose personal style is built on sturdy ground. While these days, pretty much any person equipped with a smart phone can be fluent in what’s fashionable, there are but a few who have serious style DNA.
We asked these 11 originals to use BENCH’s white tee as their canvas, interpreting it with strokes of their own aesthetic. Through Preview “Best Dressed” alum Tina Ong’s devout minimalism or model Bruce Venida’s clever cutouts, what’s basic becomes a major building block for standout style.
23, Fashion Blogger
The Upside to “Basic”: Basic practically means simple and that isn’t a bad thing. You know when they say less is more? Basic can also mean you’re versatile. I like to mix and match, which gives me more options.
My First Bench Item: “It was probably a basic V-neck tee. I still have it even if I splattered some gold paint on it, I still wear it ‘til now (laughs).
My Style Core: “I’d have to say versatile. I can go with the flow with anything. I have days where I feel like being edgy, so I’ll do edgy. Sometimes I feel like girly, so I’ll wear the curls and Sunday dresses.”
The Upside to Being “Basic”: Ang basic ba iba sa normcore? Tingin ko ang basic, yung pinipili nila is more on comfort rather than the look. Minsan naman, yung hindi basic, wow, ayus ang damit mo pero hindi rin comfortable—pero dala nila.
My First Bench Item: “I think it was boxers (laughs). Yun lang yung kilalang brand sa province. Lumaki kasi ako sa Bicol.”
Bench & Beyond: “Ang dami nilang foreign endorsers, sobrang global na niya. Gumaganda ng gumaganda.”
My Style Core: “Boots. Mahilig lang ako sa black and leather.”
How We Dress Today: “I think yung style nila mas-confident sila magsuot ng something kasi nakikita nilang merong sumusuot na iba rin. Akala nila dati sila lang at iisipin na weird sila.”
21, Visual Merchandiser
The Upside to “Basic”: “It’s not necessarily a necessity but it’s essential. Every person should have basics in their wardrobe. You can always evolve basics.”
My Style Core: “I’m on the hunt for the perfect white shirt. I hoard them: different cuts, boxy or cropped, long or loose. I still can’t find the perfect fit for a white shirt. For me, that’s my foundation, the white shirt.”
My First Bench Item: “A black shirt. Just a t-shirt. We had to do a play and I was the director. I wanted to look clean, chic, effortless.”
Bench & Beyond: “A brand will always work if they have the basics: the perfect jean, white shirt, basic black shorts—Bench has that. It’s uplifted from before.”
How We Dress Today: “I think youth now aren’t as scared. They’re more experimental. So many outlets for inspiration—blogs, Instagram, magazines. Right now, the reach is big. And they’re fearless.”
21, Student/Owner of Whitefield
The Upside to “Basic”: “I think basic is also essential. This t-shirt, you need it because it’s very plain and you can match it with anything. Just like a basic gray or denim button-down.”
My First Bench Item: “In grade school, I bought a t-shirt under the ‘I Am Bench’ campaign, I think.”
My Style Core: “For this look, I wanted to use a denim jacket to add a classic menswear element. The bucket hat is for streetwear. I don’t like focusing on one thing but I admit that I take a lot of inspiration from a lot of things, like movies. James Dean mixed with a more modern musician like Pharrell, for example.
There’s this one shirt we released two months ago that was inspired by Pharrell, but not the weird hat look. It’s a plaid shirt mixed with a lot of colors pero green yung dominant color. I go to the malls a lot to make sure I don’t copy things and I realized na kulang ang greens nila.”
The Upside to “Basic”: “Straight to the point ka. Walang arte. Kung basic ka, alam mo kung saan direction mo, walang zigzag. One direction.”
My First Bench Item: “Black t-shirt. Feeling ko kailangan ko siya sa event nung bata ako.”
Bench & Beyond: “Na-re-reach niya yung global scene. Nakakasabay na siya sa international brands.”
My Style Core: “Relaxed. Medyo basic siya na relaxed. Depende sa mood pero mas pipili ako ng comfort. Gusto ko magaan lang lahat. Actually, ayoko ng zippers, buttons—gusto ko suot mo lang.”
26, Visual Merchandiser/Fashion Blogger
The Upside to “Basic”: “It’s really the foundation to fashion. You need to have the basics. Like a very good-fitting black bra. I feel like you can also build on that. Most of my clothes are basic but with an identifiable twist. It could be the way it’s worn, fabrication, fit. There’s a reason I chose a medium rather than size small because it fits a little looser. But I don’t like things that are super constricting. Generally, I like to wear basics with different cuts, fits, and fabrics.”
Bench & Beyond: “I had to style a shoot for Benchmark and it was for Marian. It was one of the funnest shoots I’ve ever done. The good part is I got to find my favorite piece from Bench: a pair of black men’s shorts that fall right above the knee. That’s probably my favorite thing from Bench—and this bra that I’m wearing right now (laughs). My favorite part of Bench is the underwear. It’s really comfortable.”
How We Dress Today: “Now that I’m older, I can say this with confidence: younger kids have better bodies and most of them know how to dress them. My cousin is 16 and she wears stuff that I would wear. Sometimes it can be very trend-driven but even then, it’s style.”
My Style Core: “I’m always interested in a silhouette. That’s why I like to wear bigger pants. I get so bored so easily so it’s never the same. A silhouette or a fabric I really want to wear. So if I’m tamad, I’ll wear sweat pants or a sweatshirt.”
22, Graphic Designer
The Upside to “Basic”: “I think it’s always good to have basic things in your closet for lazy days. Let’s say you’re tamad to dress up for work—as long as you have a plain shirt, it can still look nice. It’s not bad to be simple once in a while.”
My First Bench Item: “Nose pore strips.”
My Style Core: “Tomboy. I like dressing like a dude. I like skirts too, though. I don’t like lacy things but I like flowers. I like weird stuff.”
How We Dress Today: “I like the Singaporeans and syempre, Japan. They’re cool with whatever they wear. Pero here in Manila, there are a few really cute people but not a lot.”
17, Fashion Blogger
The Upside to “Basic”: “Basic means simplicity. Nothing overdone. In its purest form.”
Bench & Beyond: “Bench is a classic local brand and throughout the years, it’s evolved and stepped up its game. The clothes are on-trend now. What’s great is that it’s also affordable. A lot of people can be stylish and don’t have to worry about the price.”
My Style Core: “It’s very feminine. I really like dressing up in ladylike pieces. I also tend to incorporate edgy pieces, as well.”
How We Dress Today: “I’ve seen a lot of really stylish people my age. I follow a lot of teenagers on Instagram, Tumblr. They know what they want and they know how to express that well through their clothes.”
18, Fashion Blogger
The Upside to “Basic”: The upside to being called basic in terms of fashion is someone who’s very well-rounded with how they can experiment with basic pieces. Like for instance, my sister, there are times when she goes full basic. At first I was thinking it would be very boring but it’s the way she styled it—it doesn’t have to be boring so long as you play around with it. To me, being called basic is not really an insult. It shows you have a different personality from other people. If that’s who you are, especially.
My Style Core: “There’s no word to describe my style but I guess—I wouldn’t call it vintage when I get stuff from thrift shops. It’s Harajuku but not really Harajuku. At the same time, I clash certain styles together, like a bit of sports-luxe with a few basics.”
How We Dress Today: “I do appreciate looking at other people’s Instagram feeds. You know where to get inspiration from. They can really stretch their ideas.”
16, Fashion Blogger
The Upside to “Basic”: “When you say ‘going back to basics,’ it’s going back to the beginning. There’s something very simple about it but very classic. That’s what I love about basics. White shirts are a staple for me. You can dress it up, you can dress it down, you can wear it with anything. You can never go wrong with a basic tee.”
Bench & Beyond: “It’s amazing—it’s gotten so big. I remember when I was younger, it was a go-to already but now, it’s amazing how far they’ve come. It’s a Filipino brand and it’s something to be proud of.”
My Style Core: “I feel pressured to use a certain adjective and limit it. The only word I can think of to describe my style is ‘me.’ It changes with my mood and reflects how I feel.”
How We Dress Today: “We tend to grab from previous eras so it’s a mixture of the ‘80s, the ‘70s, the ‘90s—a modern twist of the past.”
The Upside to “Basic”: “I love ‘basic.’ It’s the foundation of something, or the simplest form of it. People seem to be afraid to look ‘plain,’ but the upside to it is that it always works.”
My First Bench Item: “Most probably underwear. Nearly all of my briefs are Bench.”
My Style Core: “I think that the core of my personal style is simplicity. My wardrobe consists of mostly gray, white, black, and navy. There’s something very comforting and assuring about a t-shirt that fits well.”
How We Dress Today: “Well, an increasing number of people, myself included, seem to like trying to look like they didn’t try (laughs).”
SHOP THE STORY