Repping Stateside: The Fatlace Paddock
The world is small when it comes to the Filipino automotive community - everybody seems to know (or at least be familiar with) one another. Much as the world appears to be small however, one Filipino was able to establish himself and his brand not only in the Philippines, but also worldwide.
Last September I had enough free time to fly and visit the United States - mainly California and New York. It was a perfect time to bond with family and friends, enjoy the scenery, and practice photography in general.
Before leaving Manila, there was one place I was sure I wanted to visit - the Fatlace Paddock. Located beside the freeway in San Mateo, California, its close proximity to our location made it much more feasible to visit during our hectic schedule. After all, you can’t expect a car guy to live 3 weeks without doing anything automotive related, right?
Fatlace is a lifestyle blog that started back in 1999 and eventually ventured into the automotive scene later on. The Fatlace Paddock is also the home of Illest, Mark Arcenal’s streetwear brand - a name that’s no stranger to the Filipino car community, especially the stance scene.
Even though this isn’t my first time visiting the Paddock (I was here back in 2014), this visit was a lot different since I was able to have a chat with the man responsible for making the brand grow into what it is today.
From the calm and minimalistic tiffany blue and gray facade of the Paddock, the interior is much more colorful and hectic than one would expect.
Upon entering their gate, you will be greeted by a few cars stacked on lifters. These cars are from Mark’s personal collection and some are owned by a couple of his friends.
The cars parked inside range from this Volkswagen Type 3 Notchback to a Ferrari 360 hiding somewhere in the background.
This Volkswagen Bus is also one of Mark’s personal cars. He recently collaborated with Hotwheels to make a special 1:64 version of this car and it sold out pretty quickly.
Among all of the cars there, I spent most of my time staring at this red and white RWB. I’ve seen and even driven RWBs back in Manila, but I’ve never seen a “racecar” version in person. Bucket seats, roll cage, acrylic windows, Brembo brakes, and semi-slick tires give justice to the “rough world” concept of Nakai San.
Another car we’re all familiar with is the Toyota AE86. Made famous by a Japanese anime series, the 86 has skyrocketed in value and is a well-sought piece for JDM fans/collectors. This exact AE86 has been with Mark for a few years already (it was already here when I visited in 2014) and there’s no sign of selling it anytime soon as it now belongs to his son, Hunter. Yes, Mark’s 9 (or 10) year old son owns one of the most iconic Toyotas ever made. What car did you own when you were that young?
Even though it’s called a “paddock” and is filled with cars, the Fatlace Paddock isn’t really a shop where anyone could enter and get their engine oil replaced or have a long list of engine mods installed - it’s more of a place where Mark and his friends can spend time working on their own project cars.
One of the ongoing projects was this Honda Integra DC5/Acura RSX. I wasn’t quite sure what they were doing to it - perhaps a JDM front end conversion?
Hanging beside the DC5/RSX were these cut up fenders. The Fatlace Paddock being the location where RWB conversions take place, these stock fenders were cut off the Porsches and displayed there as memorabilia.
Their projects aren’t limited to cars either - they were trying to make this Ruckus run the day I visited and there was a sick looking electric go kart displayed in the common area.
Aside from the car storage/workspace, the Fatlace Paddock is considered the home of his streetwear brand Illest. The space not being used by the cars serve as the office and warehouse for all of their merchandise.
With e-commerce being the efficient way of purchasing items in the United States, I was able to see firsthand the process of them receiving your orders, packaging the items into shipping boxes, and getting them ready for shipping all over the world.
The last part of the tour takes me to this doorway on the side of the building which leads us to the second floor (which probably consists of more storage space and offices) and the small boutique at the front of the establishment.
The store has most, if not all, of their products available on their website on display. If you’re a tourist like me, or just prefer seeing the items in person before purchasing, you would not regret stopping by their store for a quick visit.
They have all kinds of merchandise - apparel, stickers, keychains, and even small parts for your car. It took me a while to check out what they had in store, and I couldn’t resist not purchasing a few items for me to take back home as remembrances of my visit.
That concludes my tour of the Fatlace Paddock. It’s crazy to see how Mark was able to take his lifestyle blog to the next level and eventually branch out and make his brand what it is today.
Special thanks to Mark Arcenal for giving me a tour of the Fatlace Paddock and Kevin Carlos for organizing it.
Words and Photos by Jaime Miguel Echavez