"Rebel" underdog brand is making a Philippine comeback

Paul Lintag on Jul 11, 2017 03:50 PM
The Lyceum Pirates are currently Team Rebel Sports' biggest clients. Spot the "R" on their jerseys from the team's NCAA OBB shoot for ABS-CBN Sports.

In the ever growing and competitive world of sporting apparel, an underdog local brand is looking to give the Philippine market another shot after finding its own version of the American Dream.

Team Rebel Sports, owned by Pinoy businessman Joel Cu, has expressed its intention to once again try and penetrate the local scene, roughly two decades after its first go-around simply crashed and burned, for a lack of a better description.

Since that initial failed attempt, Cu, who played one UAAP season as part of UST's men's judo team, has found success in the States, supplying many lower and mid-tiered and grassroots programs with high-quality uniforms.

Specializing in American Football in the US market, Cu's Team Rebel Sports also supplies apparel for basketball, soccer, baseball, softball, and even lacrosse just to name a few.

With a solid foundation abroad in place, Cu says its time to give the local market another shot. He is Filipino after all.

“We started in the local market, 1998. Parang Botak siya, customized, rubberized lang. Then we became a ready-to-wear apparel sa Toby’s [Sports]. Ginawa namin yung factory sa Antipolo without loans and everything, we were drained out. Nag-down kami. Now, we studied export. Dahan-dahan naming inuulit yun," Cu said, telling the story of his first failed business plan 19 years ago.

“We’re coming back in the local market. Nawala kami for so many years. Nasa US kami, then nag-Australia," Cu added.

With many small-time uniform suppliers popping left and right locally, Team Rebel Sports is banking on its supposedly superior material and quality at a reasonable price to compete.

After growing abroad, Rebel now has more than enough machinery and manpower to complete even the biggest of orders.

"Difference ng Rebel sa iba, yung stitching. Yung sinulid namin. Yung ibang tailoring hindi natin sila mapipilit, maliliit lang, yung mga nabibili sa Divisoria na pang-T-Shirt lang. Pero kapag hinila mo yun putok yun, sira yun. Mabilis maputol," Cu said.

"Yung ginagamit naming sinulid, matibay. May chance nga masugat yung kamay mo eh. We have different kinds of sewing threads. Mayroon pa kaming sinulid na may stretch. We also have our own embroidery sublimation machines, madami na. It’s around 12. Yung speed namin ang ipinagmamalaki namin. You cannot compete in the international arena if you don’t have these resources," he added.

Another feature that Team Rebel Sports is proud of is its unique system that allows the consumer to track everything.

Literally track everything.

Through its website, Team Rebel clients can oversee the entire process of their respective orders, from designing the uniforms to shipping. Clients can also have real-time interaction with the designers for any applicable changes.

"Yung ibang mga nagpapagawa, naloloko. Here, nakikita nila what’s happening, nagco-comment pa sila. Doon sa system na ginawa namin,  they can keep track of the uniforms na pinagawa nila," Cu said.

"We have this system in our website, kapag umorder ka sa amin, your artworks are similar to what you see on Facebook. The artist will post it, then we can make revisions once you post your comments. It’s an interactive communication. Halimbawa yung sizing mo, you already approved it, then nagbayad na, na-deposit na, nasa production na, nakikita ng client yung mock up ng uniform. Because we’re posting pictures if nasa sewing na, nasa printing na. You can comment. Kaya tuwang-tuwa yung US market. Kapag may problema, nagko-comment sila agad. You can see our system in our website, teamrebeldirect.com. Doon pa lang sa production, you can comment immediately," he added.

In trying to establish its name in the Philippines, Team Rebel Sports has been talking to numerous college programs about possible partnerships.

However, their biggest client so far are the Lyceum Pirates, the team strongly considered to be the primary challengers to the San Beda Red Lions for NCAA Season 93.

Coach Jeff Perlas, one of Cu's partners, is Topex Robinson's first assistant in Lyceum's coaching staff.

"We’ve forged a partnership with Lyceum. I told them, Rebel is here not mainly for profit. Because we already have our US and Australian market. Our purpose is to give the students a good uniform. We’ve been giving it to the Americans, why not us Filipinos. Sariling atin," Cu said.

More than anything, Team Rebel Sports' latest business venture in the Philippines is all about supplying quality local apparel to a sports-crazed nation.

Emphasis on the word local.

“Hindi kami Divisoria, but we’re not saying also na kami yung mahal. If you think of Rebel, we’re the underdogs in the market. Hindi puwedeng Divisoria lang. I’m not saying this because class ako. Yung Rebel hindi mahal yan. Practical lang yan," Cu said.



Follow this writer on Twitter, @paullintag8

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