Through practical education and innovation, the PHx Fashion Conference is elevating local design to create businesses that reach global aspirations
In recent years, the fashion landscape of the Philippines has experienced a substantial transformation. This is in tune with the emergence of young designers, who fuse traditional and contemporary elements in both their materials and ethics.
When you look at the work of our local designers, you can find a distinctly unique aesthetic, that while varied, is still rooted in our complex tropical landscape.
While the Philippine design aesthetic has evolved into something truly remarkable, there is still potential for growth on the operations side of fashion. The PHx Fashion Group has just this goal with the PHx Fashion Conference, which aims to foster a creative business environment through education and market incubation, guidance for skills development, mentorship opportunities, and industry networking and collaboration.
Think design theory in practice, with essential advice for building a business, whether for a collection of ready-to-wear garments or accessories.
Meet the Minds Behind the PHx Fashion Group
In November 2019, the first-ever PHx Fashion Conference debuted, spearheaded by fashion entrepreneur and educator Esme Palaganas and contemporary fashion designer Seph Bagasao, with support from Trickie Lopa. This event marked the inception of a transformative journey for the fashion community.
In 2020, as the world adapted to new circumstances, the PHx Fashion Conference transitioned online with “Fashion Forward Dialogues” led by industry bigwigs like Rajo Laurel and Amina Aranaz-Alunan. Some of the featured agencies included Monday Off and Serious Studios. Later in the year were mentorship programs, headed by Jojie Lloren, Jason Lee Coates, and Jude Macasinag.
In 2021, it reached international heights with its inaugural event in Japan as part of PHx Tokyo, a part of CITEM’s showroom incubation program. The initiative facilitated mentorship sessions for eight homegrown fashion labels, guided by Japan-based showroom H3O Fashion Bureau and fashion consultant Tetta Ortiz-Matera.
In 2022, you may also remember PHx’s vibrant takeover of 10 themed rooms at the Maarte Fair.
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The conference is grounded heavily in practical education, which makes sense with the co-founders’ background: Esme Palaganas is a Visiting Lecturer at De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, a Design Thinking Specialist, and Consultant, as well as a Contributing Writer for Vogue, who holds a Master’s degree from the University of London. Meanwhile, Seph Bagasao is an accomplished designer who navigated between Manila and New York, honing his craft under Josie Natori, while dedicated to addressing environmental and ethical concerns in the industry through his eponymous label.
I ask, where does Trickie Lopa come in? The co-founder of Art Fair Philippines replies,
“I’m all for supporting creatives—especially unique visions. It’s the same when I look at art. It’s something that relates to you. You feel like oh, wow, I respect that artist’s viewpoint, or it’s something I would wear, and that’s why you want to be close to what they create. It’s having that respect… which is why I patronize all these young fashion designers because I just find that they’re so courageous.”
To give a bigger picture of the importance of cultivating the fashion landscape, Palaganas recounts their first meeting Lopa at a pop-up with Bagasao,
“Trickie mentioned courage, right? Honestly, it’s so hard to be a designer in the Philippines. I think that courage is real. But then again, you won’t get that without the proper support… That’s how the conference kind of started. I think we were aligned in terms of the value that we see in design and anything creative. And it transcended into the need to support this kind of creativity and design vision.”
The Much-Awaited Mid-November Conference
Norman René De Vera, a prominent Paris-based Filipino-British designer, will open the first day of the event with a conversation alongside Vogue Philippines Fashion Editor, Pam Quiñones. Lending both a designer eye and an editorial eye, they will hold a conversation on the aspects of fashion, from design inspiration to what to expect in the Global Industry and Market, as well as navigating the Designer-Media relationship.
A bulk of the conference will be led by Philippe Terrien, founder of TFC Press, and his wife, Giselle Go. The Japan-based duo has collaborated with brands like Aesop, Emilio Pucci, and Dries Van Noten, and will cover the nitty-gritty of business development (especially on a global scale), PR, and digital communications. Participants can also receive design insights through Portfolio Reviews by esteemed experts, including TFC Press and Vogue Philippines.
An exciting portion of the event will feature talks by designers on the cutting edge, from CJ Cruz of Carl Jan Cruz and the co-founders of bespoke jeweler 13 Lucky Monkey, Dante Dizon, and Noli Coronado. Intellectual property strategies for brand identity will be discussed, led by designer and entrepreneur Dan Matutina, co-founder of Plus63 Design and Hydra-design Group.
The Months-long PHx Station Popups
From October 20, 2023, to January 15, 2024, keep an eye out for a pop-up at Greenbelt 5 in Makati. Twenty-four designers will rotate throughout the space in three batches, with eight designers in each round.
The designers include Alexie Nethercott, Aire, Apara, Bagasáo, HaMU, Idyllic Summers, Jerome Lorico, Jill Lao, Jude Macasinag, Kelvin Morales, Le Ngok, Lilianna Manahan, Neil Felipp, Nicolo, NOVEL, Randolph, Renz Edward Reyes, and more.
Recognizing the importance of collaborating with academic institutions, three student designers were chosen from De La Salle-College of St. Benilde, iAcademy, and SoFA.
The PHx Fashion Conference is organized by the PHx Fashion Group in partnership with Ayala Malls through its Bravo Filipino initiative, GCash, and with support from the Embassy of France in Manila, Ayala Museum, and Seda.