Chunky dangling earrings, mismatched gemstones, denim with a modern feminine spin and lace tops are designer Bea Valdes’ suggestions for high-impact fashion in video conferences and socially distanced events.
That’s just part of the story. The fashion industry is considered the world’s second largest polluter, with most textiles going to the dump and the use of synthetic materials originating from oil and petroleum products. Meanwhile, Bea Valdes Design has been conscious of minimizing wastage in production and is looking into working with suppliers who use renewable resources.
Its latest collection is about new designs from “old” stock. The earrings were made from snakeskin that had been in their stock for a long time. Ditto the other fabrics and semiprecious stones. The fashion brand is more conscious than ever about using every resource in a sensible way.
Valdes supports Circulo, a program organized by venture capitalist/sustainable development advocate Carlo Delantar. The initiatives center on “awareness, design-thinking workshops and ecosystem building.” Circulo’s workshops attract enterprises that share the same values on sustainability, zero waste and distributing to reuse. The end goal is to make the Philippines embrace the circular economy for progress.
The linear economy is about turning natural resources into products that get discarded. In contrast, a circular economy aims to bridge the disparity between production and nature’s ecosystem cycles. This implies recycling organic wastes or transforming nonbiodegradable waste, reusing instead of disposing of materials and eliminating harmful chemicals to revitalize nature.
“Keeping materials and prolonging products for reuse is where we are at,” says Valdes, who supports Circulo’s enterprise. “Our cornerstone is craft—slow design. It takes a certain amount of time to make things. We are very concerned about how and why you make them.”
She explains that her fashion is envisioned as modern heirlooms meant to be handed down to the next generations. “When you design something, you now have to think of the end of life. You think of producing products which are not disposable, but regenerated.”
The designer cites a longtime client who sent back one of Valdes’ first statement pieces, a floor-length crystal lariat. Valdes took the components apart and reconstructed them into three smaller necklaces which could be worn for meetings and intimate occasions. Other clients requested the resizing of their decade-old Bea Valdes purses in order to accommodate larger mobile phones.
“It’s always a joy to know that we can rework our pieces so that they continue to be used. We are able to adapt, recreate and craft, and incorporate a sense of emotional durability,” she says. Timeless design
Following the principles of circular economy. Valdes emphasizes timeless design and durability. “We don’t want to consume more materials than what we already have. We find new ways to use them,” she says.
Earlier, she developed a fashion collection of patchwork clothing made from scraps and remnants. “We can incorporate smaller pieces to make things that are creative, fun and wearable,” she says. Instead of throwing away leftover ribbons, they become details in dresses. Odd gemstones become playfully mismatched studs in dangling earrings and focal points in chokers.
“We make unique pieces. The loop is made from snakeskin which we have had from before. The danglers are semiprecious stones or wooden beads. The jaspers don’t match in color. The idea is putting together things that are not exactly alike, but still look symmetrically balanced,” she says.
“This is an ode to imperfection: How you put things together that may not be perfect, but you still try to find a rhyme to it. That becomes an expression of someone’s personal style.”
A large part of the 2021 fashion collection is made of biodegradable fabrics such as denim and lace. Valdes elevates casual denim into a dressy attire with passementerie, contrasting zipper trim, sculptural ruffles and splattered paint. The painted denim clothes subtly glitter with sequins and pearls.
“The painting makes the apparel unique. The embellishment must be done by hand. This is the cornerstone of what we do,” she says.
Another unused fabric, cutwork lace, is transformed into versatile blouses for day-to-night dressing. The rationale for the design is that each apparel can be worn more often and much longer.
Since the pandemic, bags haven’t been in much demand, given that social occasions have been limited. Nonetheless, the Rhapso purse, prodigiously embossed with chains, crystals and pearls, is a testament to her workshop’s craftsmanship.
The round bag has a firm body, which, she explains, is based on the application of “tension and cushioning for shape.” Applying her interior design background, she adds, “It has no molds. The bag is sturdy but built more like apiece of furniture than a bag.”
Despite the country’s volatile economy, business has been kind to Valdes, as export trade continues. Clients worldwide have been ordering customized pieces through her Instagram account (@beavaldesdesign), while the domestic market has expanded.
“We started out with friends. Now clients from different areas reaching out. They see the value in what we are doing,” says Valdes. —CONTRIBUTED INQ