It’s genuineHI‘s LAST Next Movement at Next Door. I’m modeling for another clothing line, but notice a talented and humble individual fitting some of his models. He is one of the first male designers I’ve seen so far, and I recognize his face from MySpace. It’s designer Matt Bruening showcasing his line for the first time outside of school.
We exchange a few words and talk later in the night. After discussing a few ideas, we realize that it is mandatory we MUST collaborate on a project soon! I hook up with a photographer and ask Matt if I can model his clothing for the shoot–even though he would be out of town. He said he trusted me–after knowing me for only a few days. The beginning of a series of collaborations was made that day.
Since then, I’ve modeled his clothing in other photoshoots, fashion shows, and have even photographed some of his designs. After our most recent shoot on June 2nd with GroundUP Agency model Jessica “Loke” Gonsalves, I’ve been inspired not only to showcase some of the photos I shot, but interview this designer on the rise. I asked if I could pick his brain and he was more than willing to share his past, present, and future in the industry.
What is the name of your designs?
MB by Matt Bruening, SOULstice Collection Fall 2009
When did you start designing?
I started designing in the 7th grade, never took it serious or considered it as a career till about the 10th grade when I decided to take up fashion in college, rather than forensics.
What/who inspired you to start?
I am just inspired by always wanting to be ahead of the game. I’ve found out that my grandfather was a great tailor back in the Phillippines, and I’m guessing that’s the same blood that flowed through my grandma, mom, and myself. I was always into art and being that it doesn’t do much for you nowadays (financially), i felt this was another outlet i could challenge myself to express art through a different type of media. I’m really just inspired by street and high fashion and try to mix the two worlds into one–my own VISION to share with everyone else, even if they love it or hate it…
Where did you get your training?
I got my training from a sewing class back in seventh grade. I kinda stopped sewing for a few years, due to other interests, and picked up once again towards the ending of high school. I’ve been trained by my Home Ec. teacher and did a lot of experimenting myself and later bettered my craft at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, Apparel Product Design & Merchandising program.
How would you describe your style?
My style, personally, is really minimal and plain. I feel that the way i dress shouldn’t reflect what visions i have in mind–which are complete opposites. I’ve really reverted back to basics, for my own style, especially with clashing brands and very similar designs/styles, i’d rather just dress very casually and basic. As for style in regards to my designs, i like to fuse both street/urban influences with high quality taste and fashion. I try to be a slight step ahead with the silhouette and designs of things that can fit most body types.
How would you describe the fashion scene in Hawaii?
I feel that the scene is finally picking up in Hawaii and those involved with the ‘industry’ have been very fortunate to have multiple opportunities to showcase their talents not just in fashion but also music, art, and photography. I just feel that Hawaii needs to be some sort of frontrunner when it comes to ideal fashion and style. The stereotypical ‘island-style’ has been played out way too much, but i feel that individuals will have that golden opportunity to create the “NEW LOOK” of Hawaii where it won’t be all about Aloha Prints and tourists attractions. Hawaii deserves to be a fashion capital in itself.
What experiences in fashion (shows, magazines, internships) do you have so far?
Fortunately, I’ve been able to showcase my designs at many events. If it weren’t for those people who actually believed in me, I’d probably just be sewing and I would be the only one to see it. It really helps when you have an outsider looking in that doesn’t doubt your potential. It motivates me to keep going, regardless. My first showing would be at the Sheraton Waikiki, in 2008, when I designed for the Junior Class collection. The next show after that was at Next Door, for the LAST next movement produced by geniuneHI.
Soon after, I had the opportunity to have those designs photographed and modeled by great people (and i’m not just saying this cuz i know you’ll READ this, tia. seriously, you guys are part of the journey.). Soon after I designed a few more things and was able to show those at E&O Restaurant, and at the Design Center with the GroundUP Pirates. I got to show once again at the Loft with Ground UP in December at their Last 2008 art show. I strayed from the ‘scene’ for a bit to concentrate on my senior collection which i debuted in April of 2009 at the Pacific Beach Hotel, at the annual senior fashion show titled, Sew’d Out. Soon after, I showcased that to attendees at the Ground UP Agency Launch.
Back in 2008, September, I was able to get on board with Hawaii RED Magazine, as an assistant to our Fashion Director, Lehua Pahia. I was able to conceptualize photoshoots, and styling which later became a passion of mine, along with photography which is something i was able to learn about as well working with our contributing photographers. For my ‘final project’ with Hawaii RED Magazine, I did a “Vintage Vogue” fashion show at the Aloha Tower Waterfront for the Night Market which showcased local designers, vintage clothing from Cloth and Throwbacks Vintage, as well as eco-friendly wearbable art pieces designed by local designers. It all came full circle to finally realize that I felt that I do have a place in the industry. And it feels GOOD.
What is the next event coming up for you?
The next event is a collab effort with my fellow graduating designer classmates and my talented artist friend, KOAK. We will be showcasing designs at the Night Market Event at The Aloha Tower Waterfront and will be debuting a new Summer Collection and Men’s Pieces (KOAK and I will collab on this segment). Stay Tuned!
What is your ultimate goal as a designer?
My ultimate goal as a designer is to gain all the experience needed to fully operate my own, functional brand. I am still ‘new’ to the industry and I’m learning a lot as I go. I once doubted that I’d be able to show even just ONE piece, and now to have a little bit of these past experiences I was fortunate to be a part of and meeting the right people along the way, I feel that all things are possible.
Just have to believe in those who believe in you and never forget those who’ve helped you along the way. I am thankful for everyone and everything that made this possible. If not for them, I wouldn’t exist. If not for them, my visions would just remain dreams. But it’s because of everyone who believed in me, I was able to make those dreams, reality.
Anyone you’d like to thank?
BIG Mahalos to: Jake Miyasato of Genuine HI, Tia, Salem, Bianca, Queycy, My UH Design Peeps, Justin Adams, the Ground UP Pirates, Katherine Emily of Artists Awake!, Hawaii RED Magazine Family, Aaron Yoshino of Honozooloo, “Lamesauce Inc” (inside joke ), my family, friends, and everyone else who made the everlasting journey possible. THANK YOU very much!
Now you can see why I HAD to interview this fellow. Matt Bruening has a lot in store for him in the near future. Keep an eye out for this guy and check out the links embedded in the article to find out more about them!
❤ K. Love