Young designers pivot from fashion to protection | Inquirer Lifestyle
Jay-R Gamboa Flores

Young designers pivot from fashion to protection

Even in their interrupted careers, they continue to find opportunity

(Last in a series)

How are the country’s upcoming designers coping with the interruption of their young careers? And how will they plot a postpandemic career in fashion design?

Apparently, the pandemic hasn’t snuffed out their desire to pursue their profession even in an industry that seems to be struggling forever.

Marc Carcillar

IloiloInvent and reinvent

Terno crop tops by Marc Carcillar

Our future is always up to us. I think PH fashion Industry has a future!

Am I sticking to it? Big, yes! Filipino resiliency is what we’ve got.

We are doing our mask collections after creating the Philippine terno, which was the bread and butter of MARCOpilipino last year. The pandemic creates a new playing field for us. We started creating a handcrafted mask.

The mask production opens opportunity for us to create more ready-to-wear (RTW)line—the MARCOpilipino essentials for B and C consumers. Last year our shipment was for local clients. Today, our market widens and we’re shipping our handcrafted masks abroad to Filipinos and the Filipinos at heart.

To survive, let’s be more creative! To use our current resources, focus on the Philippine weave, utilize artisans, apply that skill or knowledge they have to create a product that would answer and benefit the current situation, invent and reinvent. Maximize the use of technology while maintaining the quality our customers love about our product.

Mark Suralta Pabon

South CotabatoPassion plus purpose

Mark Pabon with models in his creations

PH fashion design industry has a future? Definitely yes, fashion industry will always be significant as long as we know how to adjust to what is significant. Sticking to it is a struggle. But yes, it’s passion plus purpose. It’s a young career I chose and I do believe fashion plays a big part in our lives.

Who will be my market? Since my business is made-to-order, I’m lucky that I have my regular clients—paunti-unti naitatawid pa rin kahit papano. Since others don’t want to shop in the malls due to the virus, I am planning an RTW brand and sell it online. The industry needs the support of people to choose local products. The industry must be flexible in developing services. The industry needs government support or loans to start again.

And for this industry to survive, we should look at the bright side and let’s inspire and help each other. Let’s prove to ourselves that we can go beyond our limits. I still believe in this quote—“For you to have, you have to do.” Let’s thrive and I pray for this pandemic to be over for us to start something new and better.

Michael Leyva


Michael Leyva

There’s no denying that the industry has been struggling since the lockdown. But on the flip side, the industry has done a major pivot, from fashion to protection. Even in this economic crisis I am tremendously optimistic that PH fashion industry will weather the crisis and emerge even stronger.

Our market? Empowered women from different professions.

The pandemic could change the way people dress even when this crisis is over. 2020 is a chaotic year, but chaos creates opportunity. Fashion designers should take this opportunity to reinvent, think and come up with new concepts that are appropriate to the new normal.

Nina Gatan

Chance to bloom

Nina Gatan

It won’t be as grand as before but designers will thrive online.

I am just adapting to it. I am optimistic working with the limitations we have. I do bridals, masks and PPE, but I might go loungewear and do work-from-home ensembles.

Because of lack of fitting schedules, my market will be RTW—a bit far off from my original goal as bridal designer but I want to be accessible to everyone as much as I can.

I hope designers can continue to support each other. John Herrera once posted in FB for other designers to post their works in his newsfeed so other people can see, and that gesture of goodwill is much appreciated.

This pandemic actually was a chance for some emerging designers to bloom. It is just a matter of being resourceful and being smart with your designs so people will buy it.

Dinnes Obusan

Camarines SurAdjust and adapt

Ph fashion still has a future. Some might think that the fashion world will end because of the pandemic.

But we designers can always adjust and adapt. Fashion is like the mirror of history. It will always have a future.

Our market? People who can afford to buy clothes for work or simple occasions will be our market. Probably people who can’t go out to the malls and prefer to do online shopping. People who love custom-made clothes and we can discuss design and details online.

Jillian Myka

Good fight

Jillian Myka

A future? Definitely! People value clothing very much because it is a necessity and it is also a form of self-expression. Without the fashion design Industry, we would not have such passionate and creative designers willing to set aside what they love to make PPE suits. Many are even doing it for free to donate to hospitals.

I’m sticking to it because I believe in the industry’s value and craft excellence. Our industry has been shaped by different historical events and I believe this pandemic has given us a new perspective.

Our market? Women leaders, influencers and frontliners who are using their influence to make this world a better place despite the pandemic. I want them to feel safe but still looking fabulous in whatever attire they need. I want my clothes to encourage them to continue to fight the good fight of faith.

For the industry to survive we need to learn to adapt to what the market needs, to be more sustainable by making the most out of our natural resources rather than relying on imports, to protect the environment by reducing waste and, lastly, to create more opportunities by collaborating with other designers and artists who have the same passion to create hope through fashion.

Jay-R Gamboa Flores

Sultan KudaratNursing to fashion

Jay-R Gamboa Flores

The industry still has a future. People find ways to put fashion in their daily wear—fashionable masks and PPEs.

I will still stick to it for this is my passion. I am a teacher and registered nurse but still this is the career I chose. I now focus on people’s needs such doing masks and PPEs—for people and hospital staffs.

It became a good source of income. But now luckily the weddings are allowed in my region. We are starting to go back to work. —CONTRIBUTED INTERVIEWS BY LUIS CARLO SAN JUAN