Through Fashion in the Present, Fed Pua Pays Homage to the Past | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

Fed Pua. Photos by JT Fernandez.
Fed Pua. Photos by JT Fernandez.

Founder of IT’S VINTAGE and ATOMIC, Fashion Entrepreneur Fed Pua reflects on the development of both his style and business, creating a source of expression for niche communities, and his latest ventures as a designer.



Fed Pua sports a midnight blue polo printed with a vintage anime figure and bright red Japanese characters. As he adjusts his wireframe glasses in a style reminiscent of the ‘70s, his rings glisten. One ring features tulips, and the other aquamarine fish, which seem to echo his star sign, Pisces.

We are in IT’S VINTAGE, the vintage store that has fostered a thriving culture of thrifting in the country. An Araki exhibition ad and film poster for Warhol’s film “Flesh” hang near skateboards upcycled with plastic toys. Beyond the eclectic decor, the space centers on the clothes – a whole lot of Grateful Dead shirts, as well as bedazzled Madonna concert merch. There are t-shirts with wrestler “Triple H” and UFC fighters frozen in action. Perhaps in line with the recent F1 hype, there are racks of Motorsport jackets and Toyota caps. In one corner hangs corduroy and a variety of denim. Oh, the denim.

Fed Pua It's Vintage
The IT’S VINTAGE store is decorated with memorabilia and filled with racks and shelves of nostalgic clothing

Founder of IT’S VINTAGE Fed Pua first took up Management Economics at university before switching to finish a degree in Arts Management. One of the central theories in art history is “Iconography” – a study of images that allows artists to communicate deeper meanings in their artwork. Looking at what Fed has produced in the store, you can’t help thinking with every sartorial choice, there is something intentional. In this exclusive interview with LIFESTYLE.INQ, Fed Pua harkens back to his beginnings and development in both personal style and business, to how identities tie into sustainability, and his latest forays into designing. 

Fed Pua by the rare, meter-high poster of Lino Brocka's film "Bayan Ko" in French
Fed Pua by the rare, meter-high poster of Lino Brocka’s film “Bayan Ko” in French


The Evolution of Both Style and Entrepreneurship

We sit on a pile of old Factory Boy merch, an early indie label Fed Pua conceptualized, designed, and produced in 2016. The recognizable tiger-patched denim jackets and vintage-inspired tees are securely wrapped in paper tape, making a sort of makeshift sofa. Behind us is an American flag, with an aged texture that tells you the fabric is of a certain time and quality.

I’m surprised when he opens that for the longest time, he dressed like a “Normie.” He says, “ I realized it’s because the clothes here didn’t resonate with me. Not to sound pretentious, but it was kind of the same thing, especially for guys. Then I went to Japan.”

It was while walking in Tokyo neighborhoods that he first encountered a vintage store. Drawn to the scavenger-hunt-like movement of thrifting, Fed says, “It made dressing up really fun for me, and realize there are different ways people dress up.” But he had to wait for his next trip to do the kind of shopping that he wanted. At the time, eBay and Amazon did not have accessible shipping. This led Fed to realize that the local landscape lacked a solid source of vintage clothing. So Fed acted on it. 

In the very first iteration, he would go on different trips, filling luggage with clothes that he mixed together and curated for retail. He describes it as being, “Super mano-mano.” Fast-forward to today, IT’S VINTAGE has evolved into a kind of elevated shopping experience, from the curation of the space to the dynamic between the team.  “They have to be part of the vibe. The music, too.” Fed tries to keep the atmosphere relaxed as if the team is just hanging out. He says,  


“When you come in [the store] it feels very effortless, but there’s a lot of thought that goes behind it. Everything has to be super authentic.”


By the counter, we hear the LIFESTYLE.INQ team chattering with the part-timers. Fed goes on to say, “I feel like a lot of the team infuses their personality into the store. Any day you come it’s good, but it’s a different kind of good. Like now the girlies are out, so it’s like ‘90s pop girl group. But when the dudes are here it’s very straightforward, cool energy.”


Clothing as a Meaningful Marker of Identity

Since moving to the new IT’S VINTAGE location in the Casmer building on Legazpi street, the Brutalist building adds to the atmosphere of retro energy. Within the city hub, there are all kinds of walk-in customers, from long-time vintage aesthetes to office workers on their lunch break, as well as a range of personalities, from actress Janine Guiterrez to designer Carl Jan Cruz.

If there’s one thing that IT’S VINTAGE offers, it’s something for everybody. And not just in the general sense. But in the nuanced way of allowing every individual to express the most subtle, yet sincere parts of themselves. Pop culture has a certain power to create a character you can resonate with. So if a certain t-shirt or style of jacket references an era in culture, it can be a meaningful marker of identity.

To understand just what kind of audience the store caters to, we look to Fed. While he has been a long-time admirer of Andy Warhol, he also finds inspiration from childhood animes like Sailor Moon or Cardcaptor Sakura. The store owner expresses admiration for the fresh, dandy-like style of pop artist David Hockney, the grunge of transgender icon Candy Darling from Warhol’s Factory, the bittersweet enchantment surrounding Hayao Miyazaki, and the free-spirited essence embodied by Stevie Nicks. Through these favored references, we catch a glimpse of Fed’s own influences and character.

Fed Pua It's Vintage
Fed wears an aging leather jacket over a shirt featuring Blue Velvet, the 1986 neo-noir film by David Lynch.


How Catering to Niche Communities Offers a Different Take on Sustainability

When the issue of fast fashion is broached, thrifting is usually one of the first suggested solutions. While Fed is well aware of this, the style entrepreneur has a few things to say about what sustainability actually means to him. “As much as thrifting has an environmental aspect (and “I love her” [debatedly Fed Pua’s quotable quip]), it doesn’t mean you should be canceled for buying a plastic bag. It’s more than that. It’s creating a model that works for everyone and that’s mutually beneficial.”

“I don’t present the store like, ‘Hey, buy it because it’s sustainable and you’re saving a turtle’ — because you’re not!” he adds.

To Fed, sustainability is inclusive and considerate of a diverse range of communities. He tells me the store represents support for small, local, LGBTQ+ spaces—an embodiment of his own identity as a person of color and a member of the LGBTQIA community. In his view, supporting such ventures contributes to the better functioning of society, not to mention support for local businesses.

Sustainability, in Fed’s eyes, encompasses the holistic approach to running a business that goes beyond waste reduction and environmental preservation. As he eloquently puts it, 


“Sustainability has to come in how you run things. It’s not just about saving the planet and reducing waste. It’s how you run a business that matters to the community. How do you run a business that speaks to a niche that hasn’t been spoken to before?”


As we conclude our conversation, Fed tells the team how he is set to leave for a months-long sojourn in New York, a city bustling with subcultures to take inspiration from. At the time, he is fixing up storage, streamlining operations, and preparing designs for his hand-made brand ATOMIC, a label that so far has stitched together reworked denim corsets, halter tops made out of vintage tees, and one-off “missy bags” made out of vintage jackets. Fed gestures to a few samples, and says,


“IT’S VINTAGE feeds my craving to curate. But whenever I run the store at some point I think, ‘I wish I could make a t-shirt or this design.’ That’s where ATOMIC comes in. It satisfies my need to create.”


As Fed Pua extends his talents in style and savviness in business, it becomes clear that at only 27 years old, he is set to continue bringing fresh perspectives into the fashion industry. From the sartorial experience of IT’S VINTAGE to the fresh fabric takes in ATOMIC, Fed Pua’s endeavors open up new opportunities to pay homage to the past, while simultaneously revamping personal styles in the present.

Fed Pua
At only 27 years old, Style Entrepreneur Fed Pua is refreshing perspectives in the local fashion landscape.
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