Words by Bryant Dynasty
Photos by Mark Galacgac for Topia Clothing
With his brand’s bright colors and an art style that almost moves with fluidity and brashness, Nick Galang, owner of Topia Clothing, has made it a point to simplify the brand visually.
Nick was born to missionary parents in the Philippines and raised in Southern California. He and his family came out to Hawaii a bit after his graduation from UC Irvine in 2012 with a degree in Cognitive Psychology. He considers himself an artist throughout his own life and in other ways — he plays 5 instruments, sings and makes music. But Topia is his main creative focus.
Topia, which has been around for the past 3 years, is derived from the Greek word “topos,” which translates to “place”. The motto of Topia is to “find your place”. For Topia, that place is Hawaii, and Nick doesn’t believe Topia would exist had he not moved to the islands.
Inspired by the likes of well-known brands such as Billionaire Boys Club, Bape and Pink+Dolphin, Topia has made a move to the higher-end of the fashion spectrum in terms of production and merchandise quality. Nick sees a move toward everyday wear with high-end basics with more flair and vigor as a trend, which was set by other brands such as Superism, Off-White, Stampd, and Fear of God as the future of the industry. However, Topia bases its values off of everyday local culture and tries to incorporate bits and pieces of Nick’s island home into the designs. Hawaii is a unique market, with its geographical location between Asia and the mainland, but still keeps up to current fashion trends.
One recent streetwear trend has been the revival of the golf hat (or more commonly known as the dad hat). Topia put its own spin on the popular hat trend by adding a simple shaka logo on the hat and more recently, the kawaii-looking whale “Wet Willy” logo with its eyes crossed out with X’s. Another recent hat design that he constructed is a Hexagonal Nylon with embroidered Musubi, which sold out in 3 days of its release. Topia’s apparel is created in extremely limited numbers, and Nick can’t even keep any of his own merchandise himself.
Nick prefers a design method with the use of strictly customized pieces. All Topia products are manufactured with a specific cut, style and with custom fabrics – which means everything has to be perfect and to a T. Despite the hard work he puts into every piece, the end product is worth it. It was his goal from the start to have such specialization of his products that would have the ultimate representation of Topia’s individuality from other streetwear or lifestyle brands. Sourcing the brand’s production out of Los Angeles, Nick has to believe and know the manufacturers that he works with and always wants them on the up and up. Simply put that when it comes to Topia, Nick wants things done the right way.
On Oahu, Topia is carried in retail outlets, such as Mori in Ward Warehouse; Alter Ego in Waikiki; and Nameless, which is across the street from Ala Moana Center. A brick and mortar store in Hawaii is one long-term goal for the brand. Since Topia is grounded here, Nick feels it’s only right that its flagship store belongs in Hawaii.
In terms of other future endeavors, Nick sees a push in online sales and a move in to the dance and music culture. He sees the trendsetting aspect of these groups as a great way to further the brand’s image and reach. In the end, Nick aims to promote a community of positivity rather than to run a brand simply for profit. He would also like to provide strong contributions in the athletic community. Nick had a tennis scholarship at UC Irvine before tearing his hamstring, but he sees it as serendipitous to his arrival in Hawaii and the creation of Topia. He loves when people understand the brand and the thought process behind it.
Nick would love to travel abroad and bring Topia to an international audience. A move back to the Philippines, along with a brick and mortar Topia store, are two of the many goals he’s trying to achieve. His plan to get all these things to happen by being humble and hungry with ideas. In order to bring Topia beyond the fashion realm, he acknowledges a need to give back to the community and to be a relate to the people within that community through his brand and its mission.