Why young designers are not giving up on PH fashion industry

Why young designers are not giving up on PH fashion industry


(First of two parts)

The news is always bleak—almost 50 percent of the workforce will be left unemployed in this pandemic. That means that the millennials and the younger generation will be scrounging for jobs and whatever sources of income.

That makes this poll of new-generation designers interesting. Most of them are, in fact, optimistic and are looking at the silver lining behind the clouds.

Their attitude is opposite that of a veteran couturier I spoke with the other week. A pillar of Philippine fashion design since the ’70s, he has seen it all, in a way. He’s one of those who led the golden age of Philippine fashion design in the ’70s and ’80s, and thus knows only too well the challenges that have faced and continue to dog the industry.

“What industry?” he asked me the other week. “There isn’t an infrastructure to begin with. Like in this quarantine, how do we get our workers to the shops? Where do we get our clothing components such as zipper, and all that, with Divisoria locked down.”

Then he said, with the certainty he always does a number of issues, “This will kill the little that is Philippine fashion industry.”

The new and next generations of Filipino fashion designers, however, remain gung-ho. Perhaps it’s because even if the odds are against them, they have one thing on their side: youth and stamina.

Glean that from these answers. We asked them if they think the fashion design industry has a future, if they’re sticking to it, who their clientele is and how will they connect to it. —T. San Juan


Model and beauty queen Alaiza Malinao wearing embroidered top in shades of burnt orange and embellished with spiked sequins, paired with floral micro minishorts by Rei Escario—JERICK SANCHEZ

Rei Escario


I do think that the PH fashion design industry has a future and I am sticking to it. Our market is our own people. We help each other out. We endorse each other and encourage one another.

We should go back to the basics and adapt to change. Fashion and style will never die, it’s really up to us how we use and incorporate it. There are so many ways for fashion to strive, just like there are so many ways to style a look. Just one step at a time.


Jeremiah Biadoma donning his all-black lace and distressed fabric creation

Jeremiah Biadoma

DLS-College of St. Benilde, Bachelor of Arts Major in Fashion Design and Merchandising

Of course, Philippine fashion will always have a bright future with emerging young talented designers. As a Filipino designer myself, I look forward and hope that some day Filipino contemporary fashion will be appreciated locally by the masses and internationally.

In my generation where genderless fashion is slowly being accepted, young Filipinos are open to experimenting and expressing themselves creatively. For our industry to survive we must use the media to showcase the creative talents of our designers and artists.


Miss Universe Japan 2019 Ako Kamoin Joel Escober wine lace gown with embellishments —JERICK SANCHEZ

Joel Escober

Designer for Miss Universe-Japan

Honestly, right now, no future for PH fashion. Am I sticking to it? I don’t know. One needs to reinvent oneself, to adapt to this challenging time.

How to survive? Planning and passion are not enough at this time. We need to apply the arts in different forms. Let’s not force fashion now because there are no events, weddings, shows, gala. Let’s be realistic and honest—

selling veggies and fruits is more relevant now than Prada and LV brands.

Big brands are collapsing, so how can a small PH designer brand make it? For me it’s really about adapting to change. I don’t know for now, but for me, reality is very different from what we post in IG (Instagram) and Facebook—the beautiful picture of our past successes, that’s not important now.

2020 is simply about survival—no fashion shows, no travel, no brands. Only find hope in our faith in God. So invest in our mind and faith more so we can reinvent ourselves for the next changes, so we can survive.

There are many hidden talents in everyone of us. This is the perfect time to discover it and use it, rather than staying in fashion.

Wilson Niñofranco Limon


Our industry has always been competitive. We have produced great designers, which shaped the core of Philippine fashion design. Today’s generation of designers has a great contribution to make in the industry.

Our brand highlights Filipino culture. It serves as our identity that shouldn’t be hidden in the mountains, it should be seen by the world.

For the industry to survive, we should unite and lobby for projects in the government to help the industry thrive. Government support (through DTI) will be a big help for the fashion industry. I believe that we need support from NGOs and government for the industry to survive.


Jerome Salaya Ang’s kimono-style PPE with carry-on beltbag

Jerome Salaya Ang

I think PH fashion still has a future but given the new normal, it will evolve into something more of a new age. People will opt for something easy, less contact, more ready-to-wear specialized pieces. Or it could go the other way as this pandemic has people craving for freedom and extravagance.


Hannah Adrias during Ternocon 2020

Hannah Adrias


I think the Philippine fashion industry has a future. Sure, at first we struggled but we’re starting to get a grip of it. We started adapting to the needs of clients. We shelved our ideas for this year for a more convenient one. In time, things will get back to normal… we are all hoping for the best. I’m sticking to this industry no matter what.


Long jacket terno with wide pants by Gavin Ruffy—JOSH TOLENTINO

Gavin Ruffy

DLS-College of St. Benilde, Bachelor of Arts Major in Fashion Design and Merchandising

I think your future in the industry will depend on what you offer. Some designers are surviving by making masks and PPE. But for custom-made I think our future is very uncertain.

For now, I’m exploring other things to do outside of fashion, but I still want to keep my brand on the side.

I want to target people attending intimate events. Just this week I got an inquiry for a wedding but that one also depends on when it will be safe to hold intimate events.

Last March, my friend and I were supposed to launch an RTW brand inspired by traditional Filipino designs but then the pandemic happened. At first, we were hopeful that things would go back to normal soon, but looking at the situation now, it won’t happen soon. We just resumed production when the GCQ started. We’ll try launch it. Fingers crossed that there will still be people interested to shop despite the current situation.

How can the industry survive?

By supporting and buying local. We could try shifting online. But it’s most important that COVID, if not eliminated, at least be controlled. Not a lot of people will shop or have clothes made if it’s not safe outside and there’s nowhere to go to.

Interviews by Luis Carlo San Juan

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