Art/Style/Travel Diaries

From Mich Dulce to Bitto: Unpredictable parade of aesthetic, design—and attitude

'We're always happy to explore and present fresh ways of seeing Bench'—Ben Chan

Mich Dulce defines pretty

The recent Bench Fashion Week featured many brands and designers. We reported on three designers last week: Kashieca x Lucy Torres-Gomez, Lulu Tan Gan, and Renz Reyes.

The rest of the brands and designers who pulled surprises on the Bench runway:

Urban Revivo

An article in revealed that Urban Revivo is known as “the Zara of China.” According to the report, the brand was established in 2006 and has since expanded around Asia and even London. According to its website, Urban Revivo “drops hundreds of new styles every week,” so it wasn’t surprising that the brand had an extensive collection at Bench Fashion Week. Everyday clothing was mixed with more colorful dresses; there was even formal wear. From breakfast to the wee hours, from more conservative to outright playful—there’s something to wear from Urban Revivo.

Colors at Urban Revivo

A dressier look at Urban Revivo

“Urban Revivo presented its holiday collection, including pieces from its collaboration with Chinese designer Caroline Hu,” said Ben Chan, the man whose vision turned Bench into a global brand.


“MLB, a luxury sportswear favorite of global celebrities, launched its collection in the Philippines for the first time,” said Chan.

MLB is a brand of clothing that offers various styles of varsity jackets, windbreakers, baseball jerseys and similar attire.

All the models at MLB

Logoed all over at MLB

The collection showed monogrammed shirts, hoodies, and t-shirts with the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox logos. Our favorite was a lavender shirt, worn by a male model but looking like a unisex shirt—as all their clothes do—with an all-over monogram print of the LA Dodgers logo. Caps, sneakers and cross-body bags were also part of the sporty collection.

American Eagle Outfitters

“American,” “laidback,” and “fresh” were the first three words that came to mind upon seeing the American Eagle Outfitters collections. Models were dressed in clothing that projected pep, energy, and classic American appeal that make the brand so popular. “American Eagle celebrates its 10th year in the country!” said Chan.

A relaxed look at American Eagle Outfitters

A fun dress at American Eagle Outfitters

The collection included California beach-inspired dresses, cargo pants, monogrammed t-shirts, denim jackets, cropped tops, floral shirts and even a cardigan or two.

Secret Fresh

Secret Fresh describes its website as a “hub for contemporary street fashion, design, and lifestyle since 2007.” Its collection for Bench Fashion Week was exuberant and playful, showcasing its brand values. Its Mahal Kita capsule collection, which launched October 1, was seen in the show. The clothes, shoes, accessories and prints were bright and fun while remaining wearable. For women, there was also a darker offering of black outfits worn with fishnet tights.

Secret Fresh drops Mahal Kita

An eclectic Secret Fresh look

“Secret Fresh dropped another collection that captures the vibe of its generation,” said Chan.

Abdul Gaffar

Abdul Gaffar excels in designing ternos—in 2020, he was given the Ternocon Chief Mentor’s Medal—and in looks inspired by communities in Mindanao. Both were evident in his Bench Fashion Week collection.

Abdul Gaffar redefines barongs.

A men’s shirt at Abdul Gaffar

The collection also showcased exceptional men’s barong that looked removed from its Tagalog roots, in exciting, unusual looks for men in various shapes and patterns.

“This was Abdul Gaffar’s first solo show, and it was inspired by his Maranao roots. It was a new point of view worth watching,” said Chan.


Rafgalang is the brand of designer Patrick Galang. “Patrick is returning to fashion from his hiatus,” said Chan.

Rafgalang reassembles

Rafgalang prints

Galang is known for reconstructing and reassembling clothing into unique pieces. His collection for Bench Fashion Week showed this design aesthetic, with parts of a garment missing or melding onto other parts of the body, or were simply deconstructed. He also used prints to achieve a more figurative form of reassembly. “Patrick works with construction and deconstruction but in totally different ways,” Chan said.

Mich Dulce

Mich Dulce has always had her own style, and in the Bench show, it was evident. What was also apparent was the evolution of her designs over the years. “The ultimate thing is that my aesthetic is quite strong. The soft and feminine, that’s always been there. But my technique has changed, my craft and my skill. Fifteen years ago, I didn’t tailor as well. I didn’t drape as well as I hope I do now,” said Dulce.

A mix of techniques by Mich Dulce

Pina and latex at Mich Dulce

She also wasn’t a milliner back then. “There are so many techniques that I learned. This Bench show was post-Chanel (under Maison Michel) and post-study at Central St. Martin’s. This show and collection was made with 15 years of European exposure, making you choose how you think about fashion.”

Dulce said that she would never have thought about working with piña. “Before, my aesthetic was, let’s use simple fabrics and look good. But after working at Maison Michel in Paris, I realized the value of using the best kind of material for my work. It also influenced the way I work in general.”

Dulce, who has always been “obsessed” with new crafts, like millinery and corsetry, said she likes “special things that people can’t do.” She studied how to fabricate designs in latex in 2019. “It’s a completely different beast.” Latex is not sewn but bonded because it’s rubber. Her latex designs in Bench Fashion Week added a different dimension to the runway, one that is unique in the country. She concluded: “Learning ‘how-to-make techniques’ is my jam.”

Chris Nick

“Chris Nick, a celebrity favorite, presented a very chic and sexy take on the tuxedo,” said Ben Chan. According to Nick, the collection was a mix of casual and formal. “I’m a big fan of denim and tuxedos, and this is a merging of both. If I were to describe this collection, it’s sex, elegance, and rock ‘n’ roll.”

Chris Nick behind the scenes

Suiting up at Chris Nick

The collection included tailored pieces and was made for a woman who is sure of herself. “It’s for someone chic, with attitude,” added Nick.


“Human showed its holiday collection with 10 covetable upcycled pieces by Proudrace using deadstock Human garments,” explained Chan. Multilayered looks with a lot of denim dominated the collection. Neon face paint—just a dab here and there—served as accents to the clothing. Silhouettes ran the gamut from tight and short to loose and flowing to mega-flared. The youthful aesthetic that the brand is known for was especially apparent.

A look at the Human runway

A denim coat at Human

Bench x Bitto

Although Urban Dictionary (yes, it’s still around) defines skater punk as “a cross of the calm Rastafarianism and the more angsty Punk Rock idealism,” and skater punk is also a music genre that came about in the 1980s, it can additionally describe the looks that Bench x Bitto showed on the Bench runway, with a dose of early hip-hop influences.

A fun look at Bench x Bitto

Bench x Bitto electrifies

“Bench brought its audience to the world of the artist Bitto, who designed the elements inspired by Y2K. Bitto is a Manila-based artist whose works are currently on exhibit in Japan,” said Chan. “We were lucky that he was with us for the show. It’s a new take on Bench. We’re always happy to explore and present fresh ways of seeing Bench.”

About author


She was fashion editor of Mega and Metro magazines, in different stints, and former editor in chief of Metro style. She also wrote for Philippine Daily Inquirer for a decade. She lived and worked in Paris for eight years, writing for international publications, and worked as copywriter for Louis Vuitton Paris. Now based in Manila, she has a content marketing and copywriting firm. She continues to write about luxury and fashion.

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