Making Men Look and Feel Good: Aware and Present Clothing Line

by Sep 24, 2014Blog, Hearty Living, Inspirations, Lifestyle Photography

aware and present men clothing line

One of the things that I love about my work is that I get to meet the most creative and passionate people. I always get curious how they started to do what they do and why they do it.

I almost didn’t accept this project when a friend asked me if I do fashion shoots. It’s not because I’m choosy and a snob (well, yes I choose) but because I only want to deliver my best whenever I commit to a job. I don’t want any client to expect something that I wouldn’t be able to do or to exceed their expectation. I’d rather refer them to someone who can do the job better or work with a team.

I’m glad I got this job and I’m so happy to do a photo shoot for a brand that I believe in. I like their line simply because it helps men to look and feel good (and it’s proudly made in the Philippines). I also got excited with the shoot when I heard what kind of pictures they wanted to have – urban, casual, smart but still fun. My kind of photos!

Sharing the end product of our shoot under the scorching heat of the sun and my interview with one of Aware & Present’s founders and designer, Carlo Rufino.

Jaco Benin wearing "Awake & Present"

Jaco Benin wearing “Aware & Present”

Hi Carlo! Tell me what is your brand all about?

I’ve always wanted to start my own clothing line years ago consisting of basic, wearable pieces with a touch of fun. The dream came to fruition when I found a couple of friends who were also eager to start a clothing business.

“Looking good, staying fun.”

– Aware & Present

We started out with casual button down shirts for men – a staple for all men. Though button downs are considered ‘formal’ in our country, we chose colors and patterns to create the ‘fun’ that our tagline speaks of.

Carlo Rufino making sure every thing is perfect

Carlo Rufino making sure every thing is perfect

I’m curious, why did you name your brand “Aware & Present”? What’s with the name and logo (why moth)?

The name Aware and Present is a shout out to live in the present and be a responsible citizen of the world. “A&P” doesn’t create a dream world for the wearer but allows him to wear it the way he wants to.

Looking good shouldn’t take too much time away from more important things in life. 😀

A real moth even visited us during the shoot.

A real moth even visited us during the shoot.

The moth? The reason is just aesthetics. The large ones with patterns on their wings look amazing. It’s an interesting insect that we don’t see much of these days but when you do it’s a treat.

Carlo Rufino, founder and designer for "Awake & Present"

Carlo Rufino, founder and designer for “Aware & Present”

What differs “Aware & Present” from other men clothing line? What makes it special? (Why do you think “A&P” will stand out from the crowd?)

We just wanted to make very wearable shirts for guys in their 20s, 30s and the youthful 40s. We focused on being casual but slightly hip so the proportions of the our first collection features a regular fit body but curved to give it some shape, with slightly shorter than usual, tapered sleeves to give it edge. A&P is stylish but never too fashiony.

Most guys don’t want fashion; they just want to look good.

How do you come up with your designs? 

Since we normally offer classic, fun shirts we start by sourcing fabrics first. It all depends what’s available at the markets and making sure colors and patterns work together. Knowledge on the latest trend helps but it isn’t a major factor in designing.

We enjoy designing things that last more than a season.

What are your future plans and goals for “A&P”? (What can we expect in the future?) And where can people find you?

Currently, we are selling online and face-to-face. You’ll find a good number of pieces in Lazada. Coming soon, we’ll be on Zalora as well.

Our social media pages are found on Instagram at aware_and_present and on Facebook. We can ship abroad if the customer doesn’t mind paying the shipping premium.

In the next coming months, we will be joining bazaars. Next step is department stores. And our product offering will expand to tees and ladies.

Jaco Benin for Aware & Present

“Really great photos! This is exactly what we want to have in the marketplace!” -Earl, ZALORA

They even have stylish manly bags

Besides their stylish shirts, manly bags will be sold at Aware & Present’s online marketplace shops too.

Behind the scenes…

Jaco Benin endured the heat and the need to sleep during the entire shoot!

Jaco Benin endured the heat and the need to sleep during the entire shoot!

Testing the light with Carlo Rufino

Testing the light with Carlo Rufino. Yes, that’s his normal pose.

“With not much time to plan for our shoot, the results were much better than I had hoped. As a photographer, JM showed that she has a good eye in setting up a shot, ensuring the clothes worked well with the setting. She can work either thoroughly or speedily depending on the needs of the client. She is approachable and friendly which puts the models at ease and brings out their talents and best poses. This project was my first time to work with her and she’s a pleasure to work with. She’s won over my confidence in her technical and directing skills. I would totally recommend her for various types of shoots”.

– Carlo Rufino, founder & designer for AWARE & PRESENT

A special addition to the men’s line…

Aware & Present will also include a women’s line at their Lazada and Zalora online market shops called  Bella. Bella is a ladies line that is comfortable and can either be dressed up or dressed down depending on how it’s paired. I know how comfortable and how practical Bella’s pieces are because I also wear them on normal/ casual days and even when I host some special events. 🙂

April Cuenca

April Cuenca for Bella

april cuenca ladies clothing line

I really had fun with this girl! She's a natural. Thank you April.

I really had fun with this girl! She’s a natural. Thank you April.

I didn’t even notice the tan and bruises that I got (after slipping) from this shoot. I was just glad my camera was fine and we had a great team that day. Thanks guys!

What do you think of Aware & Present’s collection? 🙂

(For more photos, visit my Instagram and Facebook account @MsJmDelarama.)

But wait, we have something extra special for you this week…


Since I’m writing a special MEN Series on my website this week, Aware & Present and I would want to treat one favored man with his chosen shirt from A&P’s latest collection!

men series aware and present clothing line contest

Here’s how to win the shirt of your choice:

1. Post/repost/share this blog or your chosen photo from this blog and share it on your Facebook or Instagram account.

2. Complete this sentence as your caption: “I like this shirt from Aware and Present because… (fill in the blank)“.

3. Don’t forget to tag me @MsJmDelarama and @aware_and_present on Instagram (Aware and Present on Facebook) and hashtag #MenSeries.

We’re excited to pick the “lucky” man on Friday, September 26, 2014. You can get a chance to meet Mr. Carlo Rufino himself (hehe) and pick your own shirt from his collection! 🙂

Cheers to more manly men with good fasyon taste!


aware and present winner adam genato

 As I ended my short and sweet MEN SERIES on my blog, Carlo Rufino of Aware & Present and I chose the favored man who got a chance to pick his very own A&P shirt.

Congratulations to Adam Genato! He chose a short sleeve dotted shirt and was able to meet A&P’s very own Carlo Rufino! What a nice manly time! 😉

Below is Adam’s well-thought-out answer about MEN AND PINK SHIRTS.

To all the men who joined, thank you!

aware and present pink shirt



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