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UNIQLO captures Filipino spirit in special UTme! Art of the Philippines line

By HANNAH MALLORCA Published Oct 15, 2020 7:15 am

Art has become an instrument for many Filipinos to tell their stories in these changing times.

Aside from articles that tugged the heartstrings and consciousness of Filipino readers, The Philippine STAR’s 34th-anniversary print and digital campaign last July featured beautiful illustrations depicting different perspectives in this time of crisis.

Through visual design and colors, artists Nikka Maxino-Bagasan, Erika Ypil, and Monica Ong brought the stories to life, making the theme “In Between: The Art of Moving Forward” reverberate among its readers.

Like The STAR, Japanese global apparel retailer UNIQLO remains committed to championing the Filipino spirit in trying times.

Recognizing Filipino talent, the brand partnered with PhilSTAR L!fe, The STAR’s newest online lifestyle platform, to come up with a special UTme! Art of the Philippines collection, out on October 16. This 5-piece collection featuring the works of Erika, Nikka and Monica for In Between is part of the second anniversary of UNIQLO’s largest global flagship store in Southeast Asia, UNIQLO Manila.


We caught up with the three artists to talk about how they came up with the designs used in the UNIQLO Philippines and PhilSTAR L!fe #UTmeArtPH collection.

“We have different creative processes as individuals, and since this is a collaboration, the first thing we did was to assess our strengths and weaknesses in the team. We decided that Nikka and I will illustrate and brainstorm about the concepts, while Monica will bring colors to our illustrations,” said Erika.

The most common element in their creative process was empathy, thus they asked themselves “Who are we drawing this article section for? Who do we want to draw nearer and relate to the artworks?” Everything was inspired by the Filipinos.

Erika added that during their research — aside from the stories shared to them by The STAR — she personally interviewed her friends and family who were greatly affected by the pandemic, which helped them come up with themes and layouts for the artworks.

A moodboard also helped them eliminate unnecessary ideas. From rough sketches, presentations to final rendering, the team said their collaboration wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for God’s guidance.

“During our down times and creative blocks, we asked for God’s strength, which put us back in our axis,” Erika shared.

“As a designer based in Canada, it was fairly challenging to meet deadlines because of the time difference. What I really love about our work ethic is that we were all proactive and dedicated,” said Nikka, adding that they made sure they had fun in every step of the way.

“In coloring the illustrations, I would usually check the tone of the entire piece first and pick two to three dominant colors,” Monica explained.

“For example, I chose colors that were more fun and pastel-like in the Lifestyle Interrupted chapter since it had a lighter tone.”

“This project is an inspiration in itself, and it’s an answered prayer — which turned out to be Monica and Nikka’s prayers, too,” Erika shared, when asked about their inspiration for the illustrations.

And when they found out that UNIQLO’s #UTmeArtPH collection will include their artworks, Monica, Nikka and Erika acknowledged it as a huge blessing.

“We were excited. And UNIQLO is one of my most favorite brands of all time,” Monica gushed.

The UNIQLO Philippines and PhilSTAR L!fe #UTmeArtPH collection will be available only at UNIQLO Manila Global Flagship Store at Glorietta 5 in Makati City. Customers can also develop their creative journaling skills with a special online workshop from Nikka, Erika and Monica on October 17 at 7 p.m. to be released via the UNIQLO Philippines Facebook page.

As part of the collaboration, a donation will be made to the Natasha Goulbourn Foundation.

For more updates, visit UNIQLO Philippines’ website at or follow its social media accounts, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

Editor’s Note: BrandedUp is designed to provide you with insightful, inspiring and educational content created by PhilSTAR L!fe in collaboration with brands like UNIQLO.