Good energy flows in the beautiful, empowering designs of online store Strange Mercy. Proudly made in Manila, Strange Mercy lets you wear love and positivity on your sleeve with its collection of shirts and scarves.
The silk satin scarves feature women of all shapes and sizes in various states of undress. There’s fluidity and grace in their movements on print, a mark of women comfortable in their own skin and in sharing the spotlight with fellow queens. The collection of scarves is beautiful in its design and in its versatility—turn it into a top or a cover-up, hang it on the wall, or lay it on the ground for an afternoon in the sun.
Bold in design, their line of female-first graphic tees would be right at home in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It calls for equality, unity, and freedom of expression—radical ideas to this day in some parts of the world. Made of super soft cotton fabric, it fits like a dream as it fights the good fight for you.
Strange Mercy is the brainchild of Michelle Pasia, 30, who handles design and product development, and Gino Galisim, 36, who takes care of production and logistics. We talk to Michelle about their beginnings, inspirations, and latest collection of scarves inspired by one of the truest pairs of all: women and wine.
Tell us about the team behind Strange Mercy.
"I graduated with a degree in Fashion Design and Merchandising and began my career as a buyer. I worked in the industry for four years before pursuing further classes in Technical Design at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York. I’ve always been into illustration and graphic design, but only pursued it as a career in 2017. I used Strange Mercy as a platform to showcase my work.
"My partner, Gino, is an Interior Design graduate and has been working in the industry for over 10 years. We met in college because we were both transferees from different schools. Strange Mercy was originally just me, but when client projects started piling up and I needed an extra pair of hands, that’s when Gino joined to help out with the brand.
"We started the brand in late 2016 by selling vintage pieces, which I sourced and handpicked from the U.S. A year later, we launched our own designs with graphic tees as our key product. Currently, we both do freelance work while managing Strange Mercy on the side."
What inspires your designs?
"I’m influenced by a lot of things: art, textiles, vintage, nature, nostalgia, philosophy, and personal experiences, to name a few. I also find that I’m most inspired by the process of creation—the practice of letting go and finding where that leads me, as well as the desire to spread good energy.
"The first two waves of t-shirts were largely influenced by the counter-cultural revolution of the ‘60s to ‘70s, which I think is what ultimately led us to vintage-inspired graphic tees. We wanted to emulate some of the ideals that the movement represented like openness, connection, community, spirituality, and freedom of expression.
"Our style is very open and flexible, and we’re always experimenting with different approaches. We don’t want to confine ourselves to a specific style; instead, we allow ideas to flow freely, which gives us more room to explore."
Your latest line of scarves is designed in partnership with Ladies, Wine & Design, a community for creative women, and Estate Wine, which hosted some of LWD’s gatherings. How did the collab come about?
"Last year, Chem Torrente and Thea Castro of LWD approached us and asked if we wanted to display our items at Estate Wine. I thought it would be interesting if we came up with a special collection that revolved around the theme of women and wine. The designs are a reflection of what LWD is all about: supporting, promoting, and empowering creative women."
Your designs are so versatile. How do you personally wear your products?
"I wear our shirts every day! They’re made out of soft-style cotton fabric, so they’re lightweight and super comfortable. As for the scarves, I actually don’t own a piece yet, but I personally prefer it as a wall hanging."
Who do you design for?
"While our primary target audience is women, our designs are really an expression and extension of ourselves as beings. Anyone who is able to pick up from that, relate to it, and appreciate it, that’s who we’re designing for."
Your products are made in Manila and your designs reflect the modern Filipina. Can you talk more about keeping the brand rooted in the Philippines?
"I think the use of Philippine elements in our designs just evolved from our initial desire to create art as a source of positive affirmation and energy. We’re trying to find ways on how not to be too literal about this, which I think was how the designs of our scarves came to be. We draw inspiration and apply our own Filipino treatment to make it more relevant to our local audience and to make ourselves more recognizable as a Filipino brand."
What challenges have you faced so far?
"It’s been a challenge trying to balance my time between the brand and client work, while managing vendor and customer expectations. I’ve been trying to get better at time management and making sure that I follow through on personal timelines. As for the people we work with, we try to communicate our expectations clearly and are still in the process of streamlining production to make sure that we’re able to meet our customers’ demands."
What’s next for Strange Mercy?
"We’ve recently partnered with Kubo by Piopio and Artesania, so you can now purchase our products in their stores. We’re still working on replenishing our t-shirts, but we’re definitely launching new designs and products this year, along with a lot of exciting collaborations."