Due to the work he does behind the camera, Gino Santos, 29, has an innate appreciation for fashion’s capacity to immediately convey a story. “The visual to me is important,” he says. “Wardrobe and production design are big parts in any production, and the colors, proportions, and details have to work well together. So fashion is important to me, as it’s the first thing you see on a person before you get to know them better. And first impressions last.”

But like most guys, Santos used to rely on the safe and the comfortable, given the notoriously long hours of his profession. He started working as a director for a production company at 22, and his work uniform then comprised of plaid shirts and hoodies. “I looked as if I were still in school, and I could see clients thinking, ‘What is this kid doing here?’ while looking at me from head to toe,” he recalls. “Then one day, my boss pulled me aside to tell me, ‘Please dress a bit older.’ That made me more conscious of how I presented myself.”

Suit by Randy Ortiz. Shoes, G2000.

Santos’ daily look now gravitates toward the (still) easy and (still) youthful aesthetic of the ’90s: ripped jeans, an oversized jacket, a daddy hat, and the more grown-up polo. “With the ’90s style, it’s easy to mix things up, like I can wear an outfit to work then head straight to a meeting after,” he explains. There can be quite the divide between his typical workplace and where client meetings are held, especially when his shoots happen on location and there’s a good chance he’d be getting sweaty and dirty before calling it a wrap in production. “Comfort is a big consideration, but presentation is also important, so for times like those, I usually just put on a blazer over my outfit. It’s something that works on the go.”

When it comes to dressier events, such as last month’s Garage Street Dapper Kings 10th Anniversary Ball, Santos channels the gentleman appeal favored by British actor Henry Cavill. “I like how classic yet laid-back his clothes are. I hope to pull off the stuff he wears, but he’s Superman, you know?” Helping him out with his sartorial needs is designer Paulo Lazaro who has been his friend since college; Lazaro created the suit and cape that Santos wore to receive his SDK 2018 award.

Shirt, MASSIMO DUTTI. Pants, ZALORA. Shoes, COLE HAAN.

While “laid-back, comfortable, and clean” as the pillars on which his personal style is built, Santos isn’t above trying out something trendy every once in a while. “My friends would usually laugh at me when I do that, but it’s just for fun, you know. I think we should wear anything we want.” The last trend he got into? Polo shirts with unconventional prints: a little geometrical, a little bohemian. “I sent a photo of myself wearing this shirt to my friends and asked them, ‘How does this look?’ And they told me the shirt looks like a handkerchief because of the print, haha! But I liked it so I kept wearing it.”

He also got into trying out a unique tie made of lightweight space black polymer from HexTie that he wore to the 2016 Star Magic Ball. Santos wore it with a Paulo Lazaro jacket and a pair of Uniqlo trousers. “That is one of my most favorite outfits,” he recalls. “I felt really confident in it. I was able to dance in that outfit all night.”

With his growth from juvenile dressing to something more professional and confidence-inspiring, Santos understands how confusing it can feel to branch out when it comes to fashion. “But sometimes, we just have to take a risk and see what works for us personally,” he advises. “We can’t please other people all the time anyway, so if you’re happy with what you’re wearing, then stick to it. You ultimately have the final say on that.”

Photographer: Dookie Ducay
Hair stylist and makeup artist: Muriel Vega-Perez
Stylists: Edlene Cabral and Yzza Hablado
Videographer: Sam Abad