Iconic: SNK ATK Design Lab

Iconic: K-Pop Idols and SNK ATK on Slaying Techwear Fashion

SNK ATK techwear is all about doing things your way and expressing your identity through the clothes you wear.

Techwear (or technical wear) has been around since the 1970s. It refers to clothing designed with advanced materials and technology to enhance functionality and performance. Features include water resistance, breathability, moisture-wicking properties and temperature regulation.

Techwear clothing also includes multiple pockets for storage, adjustable straps and closures, and modular design elements that allow for customization and versatility.

Techwear fashion has become increasingly popular in recent years, with many high-end brands incorporating techwear-inspired designs into their collections. 

Other than cyberpunk fans, the style has also been embraced by outdoor enthusiasts, athletes and musicians —  more particularly K-Pop idols who slay techwear aesthetics on and off the stage.

We often see these idols donning techwear in photos, music videos and live performances: Jennie (BLACKPINK), J-Hope (BTS), Juyeon (The Boyz), Mark (NCT), Moonbyul (MAMAMOO), Kihyun (MONSTA X), Winter (aespa).

The techwear trend has rapidly spread in the K-Pop scene and among top K-Pop idols. While many all over the world who appreciate style and function also turn to techwear outfits.

Avant-garde, tech-enabled fashion

If you’re into techwear, you may name some fashion pioneers like Michaela Sachenbacher and Errolson Hugh for German brand ACRONYM, Hong Kong-based brand Guerrilla Group, NY-based brand Outlier, and Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto.

You can add another name to that list: SNK ATK.

“Psalm and I said, let’s just create our own (clothing)! We both came from the creative industry, we’re designers. How hard can it be? We found that it was very hard.” – Dwight Santos, president & managing director, SNK ATK.

SNK ATK is a Filipino brand founded by friends, Dwight Santos and Psalm Alfafara, and is the only fashion design studio that uses a fully-digital process to create beautiful, functional and premium products. It uses 3D machine cuts for more precise and efficient production.

Initially, they found it difficult to find local manufacturers who could work with their design and technology. So they invested in training and upskilling seamstresses to meet the quality that their designs require.

Funding for a fashion brand that is materials and labor-intensive was also a huge challenge, and that’s why finding the right people and partners to join their team was crucial. 

Today, SNK ATK has followers and buyers worldwide who are finding their unique and futuristic creations on their ecommerce site SNK ATK Design Lab.

SHADOW Noragi & Umbra Noragi Jacket
Two of their popular creations are these wardrobe staples: SHADOW Noragi & UMBRA Noragi Jacket
(Photo courtesy of SNK ATK Design Lab)

They partnered with Ninja Van to deliver their domestic parcels. As a tech-focused company, they found our tech-enabled Ninja Dash a good fit. 

“We find the dashboard and pickup scheduler helpful. Because a small business, we don’t really have time to fill out all these paper forms, go out, give them the parcel, wait for them, and they’re delayed.

“I don’t think we’ve ever missed a pickup or booking (with Ninja Van). And if we ever had to change the schedule, it was pretty easy because we just had to contact Customer Service.

“That kind of convenience is something you can’t pay for.”

Techwear made by cool humans

Creating SNK ATK was born from wanting to express their identity and fashion sense. 

“Around 2017, we were just looking at clothing to match the sneakers that we wanted. Sometimes they’re wild, not conventional sneakers.” said Dwight.

“We looked at the different clothing types and influences we had as kids: films like Blade Runner, Akira, Ghost in the Shell. It’s the cyberpunk or futuristic style of fashion.”

“We find Ninja Van’s dashboard and pickup scheduler helpful. I don’t think we’ve ever missed a pickup or booking.”

They couldn’t find clothing that fit the genre in the Philippines, and buying from international brands like ACRONYM was very expensive.

“So Psalm and I said, let’s just create our own! We both came from the creative industry; we’re designers. How hard can it be? We found that it was very hard.”

Kirby Gonzaga soon joined in, and with his strategic and business background, the team endeavoured to create a different kind of clothing brand with technology and design made part of the process. More importantly, making clothing with the style and design that they want.

Snk Atk Techwear Clothing
These uber comfortable FRESH KICKS Panel Joggers & RYUDO Pants are also best-sellers
(Photo courtesy of SNK ATK Design Lab)

Guided by the philosophy, Designed for the future. Made by humans, the brand created limited edition, handcrafted apparel that quickly found its market. They were soon shipping worldwide, and their designs are much sought after today. 

In 2022, digital entrepreneur, Carlo Ople joined the team as an angel investor, which allowed them to scale up its design and production capabilities.

That same year they launched a fully digitally designed collection called DARK DAYS

SNK ATK has so far collaborated with local and global brands, like Secret Fresh Gallery, ASUS ProArt, DressX, Mobile Legends: Bang Bang, Mtn Dew, Call of Duty Mobile, Bratpack, Hydro Flask, Unbox and Project 7 to 1 by Carlo Ople.

Handcrafting the future

There’s no straight line to success; you need a lot of hard work plus learnings to succeed and dominate a niche (add to that highly sophisticated) market segment.

“There is no secret. The trick is to show up, no matter what. Showing up every day and putting in the work beats luck, talent and privilege,” shared Dwight. 

“It’s great to have an idea that would work, but knowing the backend side of it — financial, business planning, fulfillment, logistics —  all of these are things you need to learn.”

While they look up to like-minded designers  ACRONYM, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens, they value originality and authenticity. 

“Filipino brands can compete globally. But we should always focus on quality and creating original work rather than copying,” shared Dwight.

Neon Kirin Oversized Tee & ENEMY MkIII Hoodie
You can level up your streetwear with SNK ATK’s Neon Kirin Oversized Tee & ENEMY MkIII Hoodie
(Photo courtesy of SNK ATK Design Lab)

And compete they will. The team plans to open a retail store and expand the brand internationally. Soon SNK ATK’s handcrafted apparel will sweep the world of techwear fashion. 

You may even see your K-Pop idols killing it on stage wearing SNK ATK aesthetic clothing.

For other creatives who aspire to build their own business, SNK ATK has this simple advice: “Learn the business and numbers. They will help you do better in your work.

“It’s great to have an idea that would work, but knowing the backend side of it — financial, business planning, fulfillment, logistics —  all of these are things you need to learn. But you don’t need to learn this from scratch.  Having trusted partners and mentors really helps.”

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