Designer Mark Bumgarner believes in goal setting. For the New Year, he still makes resolutions. But the key, he says, is that they “must be realistic to be achievable.”
He points out: “I look at it as an opportunity to improve and grow as a business.”
This year sees a new goal reached—he opens his first store in Greenbelt where he will launch Bumgarner Studios, his RTW label.
“This is a completely different brand from my made-to-order,” he says. Aside from different price points, the new label will include separates, utilizing prints made in-house.
“The look of Bumgarner Studios will be derivative of my main line, which is about romance, femininity and elegance,” he says.
Wide-leg trousers embellished with a bow on the waist will hang next to racks of dresses and full-skirted A-line silhouettes—though far from his signature ball gown scale.
Alongside the brand, he developed a new range of accessories: exotic leather bags and jewelry with natural gemstones. It’s his first foray into these categories, though he previously released a line of footwear.
Last October, he flew to Paris to showcase his collection to buyers at the Ritz in Place Vendôme. Mark is currently stocked in six specialty boutiques in the Middle East.
“These same boutiques carry many other international designers, so to be in the same category is something I’m very happy about,” he says. “There is also Moda Operandi, and hopefully more international e-commerce websites for this year.”
He talks to Inquirer Lifestyle about his projects and what the Mark Bumgarner woman wears on a casual day.
Every year, the fashion industry makes promises to be more sustainable. What greater role can fashion designers play in this?
I think designers have a greater role in sustainability in how the market purchases fashion. Creating high-quality products that last for years, instead of days or weeks, is good a start.
Career-wise, where do you see yourself heading in 2019?
Hopefully, to have more stockists for my formal/evening line. Now that I have Bumgarner Studios, I would also like to focus my energy on that part of my brand.
Who are the designers you look up to?
Dead, Christian Dior. Living, Giambattista Valli.
You’re opening a retail space soon. What’s the big idea?
It will be a store meant for the contemporary Filipina. My idea is for them to find a piece of ready-to-wear, a pair of shoes, or a bag for all occasions.
And what are the expectations for this new venture?
Bumgarner Studios is my ready-to-wear line, but it will also have exotic leather bags, shoes and jewelry.
Your work is available in Moda Operandi and many other retailers abroad. What are the consumers in those markets looking for?
The women who buy from these boutiques are looking for special-occasion dresses.
For people not familiar with your brand, how would you define it?
Classic, feminine and luxe.
Your Spring-Summer 2019 collection involves a lot of your signature elements: plenty of shine and volume. What are the new silhouettes or ideas in play?
My SS19 collection that I brought to the showroom for Paris Fashion Week was intended for the international market. When buyers look at the collection, the weight of a dress is always a factor of salability. I made sure all the pieces were light despite the volume—hence, the subtle use of glitter tulle, instead of beading, for example. The market in the Middle East loves shine, but also they want it to be light for ease of wear.
There are also Filipiniana details. What’s the premise of your Filipiniana looks? Was there an attempt to change or modernize the traditional terno?
Our terno, with its butterfly sleeves, is so beautiful. Also, structure is a big trend in fashion, and the way the sleeves are constructed gives it a modern look.
There is a newfound love for us Filipino designers for anything Filipiniana and other patriotic Filipino designs. But to interpret it into a modern-day design that is understandable and acceptable to the global market is the challenge.
Who is the Mark Bumgarner woman? What does she do? What inspires her?
A Bumgarner woman is someone who knows what she wants, and while she’s aware of trends, she doesn’t necessarily follow them. She has classic taste, has a flair for fashion and puts value on quality dresses.
You’re known for ball gowns—grand, escapist, frothy looks. What would the Mark Bumgarner woman wear on a casual day?
On a normal day, a Bumgarner woman will wear maybe a crisp white shirt over a printed ball skirt. I like the idea of a casual piece paired with a formal dress or accessory. I like the balance of casual and formal worn together.