HAGÅTÑA (The Guam Daily Post) — Guam-based Analista & Co.'s fashion flag has been flying higher and higher each year since 2018, and more of its creative pieces have been finding their way into the hands of international celebrities and influencers, from Hollywood to Bulgaria.
While the tropical island of Guam may not necessarily be known for being a global fashion capital, getting personalities with a huge number of followers to wear and endorse Analista & Co.'s signature Foo Dog hoodies and custom shirts and gowns bodes well for local designers.
"So when a clothing brand that had its origins in Guam ends up in the personal wardrobes of international celebrities, movers and shakers, and others with large audience platforms, this is something to celebrate," said Norman Analista, fashion designer and Analista & Co. founder and vice president.
This certainly is a unique way to share the hafa adai spirit, he said.
"I'm proud of the fact that I was born on Guam and continue to create from Guam," according to Analista.
His fashion brand has been worn by Hollywood actors and producers Dean West, Major Dodge and Don Jeanes. Jeanes is best known for his role as the rancher in the award-winning Budweiser Clydesdale Super Bowl commercials as well as playing Neil Armstrong in "Transformers: Dark of the Moon." More and more Hollywood personalities, comedians, actors, musicians, fashion models and social media influencers have been warming up to the Guam brand.
Larry Mallari and Miss Kay, characters from the popular reality show, "MTV's Following: Bretman Rock," have proudly worn Analista & Co.'s creations.
"He (Larry) said, 'Wouldn't it be fun to show a barong (embroidered long-sleeved formal shirt for men and a traditional Filipino clothing)?' and I said, 'Absolutely.' He and I decided to talk about colors, textures, designs, and came up with something, and then he agreed to wear it and sent it his way. And I had to go through a stringent process with MTV," Analista said.
'Your brand is exactly what we need'
"Harry Potter" star Stanislav Ianevski, of Bulgaria, who played Quidditch superstar and Durmstrang student Viktor Krum, also got Analista & Co.'s pieces.
"So he got a custom print like this and he got a Foo Dog hoodie," Analista said. At the time of the interview, Analista was wearing a "Chain Reaction" print piece.
Mike Boornazian from the TLC reality show, "I Love A Mama's Boy" and Hollywood celebrity blogger Perez Hilton have also worn the Guam brand.
"I've only been around for three years but through the beauty of social media and the internet, the opportunities for young brands to catapult their presence in the marketplace has grown tremendously," Analista said during a sit-down interview with The Guam Daily Post, at his store on the second floor of Tumon Sands Plaza.
If you're more into the '90s music scene, there's T-Boz from the girl group TLC sporting the Foo Dog hoodie.
Montell Jordan, best known for his 1995 single "This Is How We Do It," has got nothing but praise for the Guam brand and designer.
"I've been in the business long enough to know legit fashion sense. I know what looks good, what feels good, because I look good in this right now, and so thank you for making fire clothing, man. And anybody who wears your clothing, man, they're gonna stand out, especially artists and performers because your brand is exactly what we need," Jordan said in a video message while donning Analista & Co.'s "Chain Reaction" button-up shirt.
Analista has also successfully reached out to social media influencers, including Aaron Maternowski and Brando Alibrandi, who gained fame through the lip-syncing app TikTok.
Guam's very own Tiktok star Shaun Douglas Duenas, a 2016 graduate of George Washington High School, has also worn Analista & Co. The Guam son, @supershaund, now has 1.9 million followers on Tiktok.
Local musicians Joe Guam, Peter Santos and Oni have joined Guam athletes and personalities such as former delegate and former University of Guam President Robert Underwood in donning Analista & Co. pieces.
There's a lot more, including "American Idol's" Jessica Sanchez and "The Voice's" Ryan Quinn, and fashion models Philip Fusco, Ronnie Liang, Andrew Wolff, Jordon Deno, Kenneth Woodson, Cole Forsgren and Sam Hashimoto, Mr. Guam 2017.
'It still feels unreal for me'
One of Analista's most recent collaborations has been with famous Dubai-based Filipino fashion designer Michael Cinco, who's known for his couture gowns worn by celebrities including Beyoncé, Rihanna, Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Mariah Carey, Tyra Banks and Naomi Campbell, to name a few.
"I've been a long-time admirer of Michael Cinco's work and began communicating with him on social media several years ago," Analista said.
Fast forward to June this year when Analista launched his new Jeepney hoodie as a tribute to his Filipino roots.
"I messaged Michael and asked if he could model the Analista & Co. Jeepney hoodie. He graciously declined because he can be a bit shy. So instead, he offered to arrange a photoshoot in Dubai for me," Analista said. He was "ecstatic" about Cinco's offer.
Cinco worked with international model Franco Garcia and his business partner Sayed Ali to showcase Analista & Co.'s Jeepney hoodie outside of the Michael Cinco atelier in Dubai's fashion district, with the famous Burj Khalifa in the background.
"His act of kindness and generosity for a new designer like me speaks volumes about his character, integrity and willingness to help others," Analista said of Cinco's help. "He has a huge heart."
Analista said every designer and new brand "has to fight an uphill battle for visibility and credibility."
"For a brand from Guam, to make its way to someone of Michael's stature for a photoshoot that he personally arranged, it gives me validation and certainly motivation to keep creating fashion from my point of view," he said. "When it comes to fashion, you certainly need the aid of influential and well-respected individuals to keep your brand in the public eye and continuously relevant."
When Analista started his brand, he never imagined this collaboration with Cinco could happen.
"Today, it still feels unreal for me that this became reality. I am so grateful for Michael," Analista said.
Cinco is from Samar, the centra Philippines, while Analista's parents migrated from Iloilo, also in the central Philippines, to Guam in the 1950s.
"Even though we are both Filipinos living outside of the Philippines, we both remain very proud of our heritage. I think our shared 'Pinoy Pride' gave us a sense of oneness. The Filipino Jeepney hoodie and photoshoot was just one symbolic way to show this," Analista said.
Analista founded the brand in 2018 out of a growing need for custom apparel in Guam.
Custom clothing, he said, doesn't necessarily have to mean luxury clothing or high-end prices.
"But what I offer, I consider it as standout fashion. So if you want a piece that someone is not likely to have, because you didn't buy it at a department store, then you come to me. We come up with a design or an outfit that would truly ensure that you're not one blended in with the crowd," he said.
More importantly, custom clothing is about necessity. Analista & Co. works with individuals who have unique body types, or those who cannot find their kind of clothing in retail stores.
"There are a lot of gentlemen, for example, who like to go to the gym and they really have broad shoulders and they have tapered waistlines. If they go buy shirts off the rack at retail stores, they have to resort to XL or XXL because that's what fits them in the top. But in the bottom it looks extremely loose, so they need to have that tapered out," Analista said.
Either they get their clothes altered, or they go straight to Analista & Co. to get their clothing designed and fitted specifically for their body type.
There's a lot of hard work that goes into getting celebrities to wear and endorse one's fashion line or product, Analista said. It's done through networking, or by directly messaging the celebrities through their social media accounts, he said.
"One thing I've noticed is it doesn't matter if the celebrity has a million or 2 million followers or they have 50,000 or 30,000. If they are interested in what you have to offer, they'll respond. And so I've managed to reach a couple of individuals that way," Analista said.
Despite Analista & Co.'s national and international reach, it's still very much a local brand and people don't have to be celebrities, influencers or personalities to wear it.
"All I've simply done is take what's considered a strategic marketing approach in introducing my brand to the public, and the fastest, most impactful way is by working with these individuals who have large platforms. And these individuals have options that they can resort to, but the fact that they are willing to work with me, I consider that to be a personal honor," he said.
Analista & Co. is a family corporation, with his wife as the president and his children as secretary and treasurer.
While he's made a name in fashion, Analista is also very much a part of the University of Guam as director of the UOG Development, Alumni Affairs and Foundation Relations, and interim director of UOG's Events Office.