They love local Part 2 | Lifestyle.INQ

OCTOBER 27, 2022

IN ADDITION to creating original apparel and accessories based on the theme “I am a Filipino designer,” finalists of last March’s LOOK Style Awards (LOSA) 2016 were asked to take clothing from popular retail brand Bench and turn it into something new. The most innovative creations were recognized in LOSA’s Bench #LoveLocal Awards. These five finalists explain the ideas behind their standout designs.

Gabbie Sarenas

Using a white button-down blouse, Sarenas reworked it by adding cocoon silk bell sleeves with caladao embroidery and pearls. “I made sure I placed something Filipino,” says Sarenas. The young designer’s work was inspired by a woman who is graceful, pure and powerful. “A contemporary Filipina,” she sums up, “someone who is in touch with her heritage and culture yet modern enough to conquer the world.”


AJ Bernabe


“My look for Bench was inspired by my capsule collection,” says Bernabe. “I wanted to make it cohesive with the three other looks that I presented.” An RTW designer, Bernabe created an entry that is a nod to street fashion. After deconstructing a T-shirt and pair of jeans for a trendy look, he complemented the ensemble with a structured vest. “I wanted my collection to emulate the form, angles and structure of the Bul-ol figure of the Ifugao.”


Tipay Caintic

Caintic was inspired by the emotional nature of Filipinos; note the hearts, lips and floral motifs and indigenous materials in her Bench entry as well as her three-piece LOSA collection.
Reworking two tops into a dress and a coat was Caintic’s way of addressing the country’s climate, “sunny one second, stormy the next,” she says. First she deconstructed a dark blue long-sleeved shirt dress and added horizontal strips of the yakan biray biray woven fabric from Zamboanga.

The she took a chiffon blouse, cut its sleeves and turned them into pockets. Caintic extended the length of the top, turned it into a dress, and sewed her signature “ripped-knits” made from pineapple cotton threads.


Eugene Tidalgo


The LOSA 2016 winner says his Bench entry was inspired by the ubiquitous souvenir shirts found in almost every tourist spot in the Philippines. “The idea is to give people a fresh approach to making souvenir products,” he says. Taking a graphic tee from Bench, he printed “Benguet Baguio” on the shirt, then cut several strips of fabric and fashioned a button-down shirt.

Tidalgo then cut the lower part of denim jeans and attached it to the waist, creating wrap waist denim shorts. A scarf he made from excess T-shirt fabric finished the look.


Princess Tan



Casual street was Tan’s aesthetic for her entry. “I wanted to remake the Bench garment into something anyone can make,” she explains, “a ‘good buy’ that can be styled in many different ways.”

Tan’s talent for beadwork is seen in the details she applied on a button-down polo shirt. Meanwhile, she fashioned a dress out of two plain sleeveless shirts. “My goal,” she says, “was to make them simple yet wearable.”

Photography Juan Carlos Miguel Alomajan
Styling Luis Carlo San Juan
Makeup Syd Helmsley
Hairstyle Mark Familara for Kiehl’s
Models Yaofa Dela Cruz of Mercator Model Management and Diego Gutierrez of Primastella Management

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