EXCLUSIVE: Streetwear Chic Meets Filipino Flair With The Jo Koy X ILLEST Collaboration



Reminiscent of brand-based merchandise in the music sphere, from Post Malone x Crocs to John Mayer x Neighborhood, comedy takes fashion to new heights with this Jo Koy x ILLEST collab. This fresh new collection threads Filipino street culture with ILLEST’s innovative casual brand staple.

RELATED: In His Element, Jo Koy Is Making It More Fun In The Philippines

Adaptive and inventive, ILLEST as a brand serves a collection of fashion items, from everyday casual wear to self-indulgent essentials. Each season sparks new designs that carry the signature ILLEST edge. Their recent releases include a vibrant summer collection and ILLEST CARES, where the latter presents a series of different clothes and accessories including masks and gaiters, adding a little self-expression and empowerment on top of pandemic protection.

ILLEST summer collection
ILLEST Summer Collection

Sewn into the core of ILLEST stylings is street racing and a variety of collaborations; from Hong Kong-based car enthusiasts Tarmac Works to Japanese toy collectible [email protected] It is, therefore, no surprise that one of their most recent projects is a merchandising partnership with Filipino American comedian, Jo Koy.

With street life and public transportation so well integrated into Philippine fashion and culture, the ILLEST aesthetic seemed the perfect fit for Jo Koy’s market and brand. The collection which was released on June 12, the same day as his Netflix special, Jo Koy: In His Elements, features two t-shirts, two hoodies, and two stickers.

Jo Koy x ILLEST hoodies and tees]
Jo Koy x ILLEST hoodies and tees

According to ILLEST North America CEO Peter Wingsoe in a statement to The Hype Magazine, the brand had pre-existing plans that “have gone out the window,” so they looked to find more authentic projects to move them forward. This collaboration being one of them, was done in the midst of the ongoing pandemic and saw the ILLEST business model shift and adapt. Mark Arcernal, Global Creative Director of ILLEST, a fellow Filipino who worked with Jo Koy on the visual designs for the collection spent much time with back and forth FaceTime in preparation for the collection’s release.

“Jo and I have been friends for a long time now and we’ve been meaning to work on something for many years. We planned to do something during the filming of his Netflix special in Manila, but the volcano erupted and my flight to Manila got cancelled,” Mark said in a statement to MEGA. “Fast forward to a month before his Netflix special drops and I texted him, to which he immediately FaceTimes me.” Mark worked on the initial designs, sending ideas to Jo Koy before they locked on the iconic jeepney and old English lettering. He then sent it to his team in Asia to animate and bring forth the collective ideas to life.

Jo Koy x Illest merch
Jo Koy in his collection

Simplistic yet true to form, the clothing pieces of the collection are monochrome marvels with Filipino accents, from the Philippine sun to the jeepney art. The stickers sport Philippine colors red, blue and yellow with the same art and lettering. They verge between casual streetwear representative of Jo Koy’s individuality, to trendy fashion statements promoting Philippine culture. The six-piece collaboration is a month of hard work and cooperation from all parties involved, a testament to ILLEST’s creative visual prowess despite the ongoing pandemic.

“I’m exceptionally proud of how the ILLEST Team has handled the brand during this surreal moment in time. We’ve had to pivot and adapt our business and with their hard work, our online sales in the USA have grown exponentially in the past three plus months since the lockdown,” Peter said of ILLEST’s achievement during the long period of the pandemic. “This collaboration with Jo Koy is another example of the team’s focus, creativity and resilience to be the best – to be ILLEST – no matter what the circumstances are.”

You can purchase the collection at the shops; The Rail and Case Study Atelier, and find out more about ILLEST on their social media accounts, @illest and @illestph.

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