Our journey started late 2010, even before FRATSHIRT was born in 2015. I was a newly-raised Master Mason and was very enthusiastic about the Craft. Being a young Master Mason, I was very much into collecting anything Masonic. My collection started with Masonic lapel pins which the brethren would often give out. Later on I moved into collecting Masonic shirts, but Freemasonry, being more of a your dad, tito and lolo’s fraternity, the design aesthetics of these shirts were then on the boomer side. In 2010, the Craft was growing and was getting more and more millennial.
A fellow Masonic collector, VW Robert Sing, and myself, sometimes joined by VW Bang Llacuna, would attend Lodge Installations – hoping for souvenirs worth collecting. It was in Labong Lodge’s Installation when I saw the first well-designed (at least based on my aesthetics) Masonic shirt I have seen in my early Masonic life (sorry I don't have a photo of it anymore). Naisip ko, pwede palang maging maganda ang isang shirt na pang Mason! That was the seed that turned into Fratshirt a few years later.
In 2014 I sat on the Oriental Chair of FRANK REED HORTON MASONIC LODGE No.379 F.& A.M., and since I am a Graphic Designer by profession, one of the highlights of my term was to produce Masonic shirts every so often in order to boost attendance for stated meetings and charity works. The brethren would bug me to no end for these shirts, even after these events. “Kuyang worshi pa-score naman ng shirt mo..Bekenemen?” Kahit mga taga ibang lohiya!
When I became a Past Master, the brethren still pursued me for these shirts. At about this time, MASONWEAR was all the rage. Maybe kaya ko rin yan? May konting doubt because I have never ventured into business before. VW Robert Sing encouraged me. At best I will have a thriving business and Kuya Robert will get to add great shirts to his collection. At worst, at least I tried and learned something worthwhile about running my own business.
Crafting with Brotherly Love
And so FRATSHIRT CLOTHING was born. I envisioned it as a brand of Masonic streetwear that was more than just typographically-driven like my idols at masonwear...to differentiate, I wanted to take it a step further and go more symbolic and graphically driven… something which has never been done successfully before Fratshirt… something comparable to streetwear legends like Team Manila, Affliction or Obey Giant. I wanted a fraternal clothing line that would be representative of the lessons of our fraternal bonds and thru our designs express PRIDE IN OUR FRATERNITY.
I cannot thank you enough for supporting FRATSHIRT CLOTHING and for believing not only in our products but also in our purpose. We hope that you will continue to believe in us. Thank you braad!! and I wish you success in your own endeavors.
- FRATSHIRT CLOTHING is a brand name under REDBERGER MERCHANDISE with NON VAT Reg. TIN 204-078-592-000.
- FRATSHIRT CLOTHING is an officially licensed masonic supplier of the Grand Lodge of the Philippines F.&A.M.
- FRATSHIRT CLOTHING is an officially licensed supplier of Alpha Phi Omega International (Philippines) Inc.
- GENE ILLENBERGER is a Master Mason and Past Master of Frank Reed Horton Masonic Lodge No. 379 F.&A.M., a Shriner from Bamboo Shrine Club, an Associate member of the Mabini Society for Nationhood, a Life Member of Alpha Phi Omega Fraternity - Eta Chapter (UP Diliman), a second degree Knight of Rizal from Intramuros Chapter, an Odd Fellow from Albert Pike Lodge No. 33 GLPh, I.O.O.F. and a Noble of the Order of Moscovites, Kremlin Tubabao.