PhFW remains in high spirits despite downsizing Holiday 2015 edition
In the last few years, the longest running fashion event in the country—the Philippine Fashion Week (PhFW)—has seen a continuous decline in the number of participating designers, shows, and days.
Last week’s PhFW Holiday 2015 edition was only held for three days from June 12 to 14 at the mall atrium of SM Aura Premier in Taguig City. Not only was it a very short run, but it was month late in coming than the usual mid-year outing of PhFW, and most surprisingly, it was held at a very small venue compared to their original home at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City.
Yet despite a seemingly unimpressive showing for this season, PhFW founder and organizer Joey Espino of Runway Productions remained unfazed and even bullish about his career’s most important achievement.
“Hindi mawawala ang Philippine Fashion Week [Philippine Fashion Week is not going anywhere]. This is our 19th year and so far we are still the longest running fashion event in the country. We will always be doing this because this is our commitment to [Filipino] fashion,” he declared at a press interview on Day 1 of the Holiday 2015 edition.
Aware he had a lot of explaining to do, the Filipino fashion promoter first addressed the obvious question why PhFW was moved this year from May to June.
“It was an honest mistake of booking problems,” he revealed. “We always book three years in advance, and 2015 is the final year of that booking. Little did we know the person in charge resigned so that when the replacement looked at the calendar of events, the PhFW schedule wasn’t properly recorded.”
Worse, the organizers were only informed about the mistake two months before the annual May showing. Espino and his team were left with no other option but to book with the next available “alternative.”
“We were given weekdays [at SMX Convention Center]but we didn’t want those dates. We wanted weekends so more people could come and see the shows.”
Thus, Espino’s best recourse was to stage PhFW over the long weekend of Independence Day.
The fashion director then addressed the question why Runway Productions chose to stage the shows at a mall. “We really wanted a private showing—you know that,” he stressed. “But at this point, it’s also good to do something like this so we can immediately and directly observe what the feedback from the market is going to be.”
He added that a mall venue might be even more advantageous for participating designers since their collections were made available through a pop-up store at the end of every show.
“When we are in secluded area, nobody will know that the clothes shown on the runway are already available. I think it is right to familiarize everyone with this set up,” Espino added.
The PhFW pop-up concept was first launched in 2014 along with an online store to sell the designs of the participants. They decided to carry over the set up to this season’s edition especially since PhFW is now pushing for more wearable and sellable collections.
“I want to reiterate that the things we really want to rally for are not just plain show or beautiful clothes, but clothes that people can really wear, and clothes that people can easily buy,” he continued. “This is why the designers we get are really willing to make clothes for retail. They must have that thinking that people would want to buy clothes instantly, aside from those who want to pre-order.”
For confirmation, The Manila Times asked whether Espino could call the launch of the on-the-spot and online selling last season a success. He replied, “Those two did very well. Most of the designers—even after fashion week—were still getting orders and most of them were from abroad.”
Discussing the participating designers next, Espino acknowledged the fact the number of PhFW participants has declined in previous years, but clarified that this is not true for the Holiday 2015 edition.
He recalled how the most recent reorganization of PhFW, the team looked for designers who would be willing to produced a full 25-piece collection. Thirty-six designers signed up, and the first nine showed their collections in 2014. This edition, the number doubled to 18 designers, while the final nine will show their collections next season.
While unclear about the reason for an installment of designers’ collections over a period of three years, Espino instead emphasized that a “clear direction” for the participating designers has been set into motion, resulting in output that is greatly improved.
“If you notice, the clothes now are very wearable for people like us to want to travel, who want to be in style,” he shared.
As for the absence of fashions shows from both local and international brands this edition, Espino said he simply did not have the time to deal with fashion retail companies as usual because of the unexpected turn of events this year. He, however, promised their return next season.
Nevertheless, Espino proudly announced that despite the difficulties they encountered for this showing, PhFW still managed to get the support and sponsorship of Power Mac Center. The partnership resulted in a collaboration between Filipino designers and tech brands available inside the digital lifestyle hub, as reported in this article’s sidebars.
Looking forward, Espino promised that PhFW will come out stronger next year for its 20th anniversary with a promise that the next edition will “look like a real fashion week.”
“When you say real fashion week, I mean clothes that people can buy. Because for the past 19 years the participating designers have seemed to see this as a form of entertainment where they have to get all that applause. But at the end of the day, they are not really selling their clothes, which just go back to their cabinets, leaving them with no earning to promote their work,” he explained.
Promotion, according to Espino, is critical for the Filipino designer what with the endless arrival of big, foreign fashion brands.
Ever the optimist, Espino nonetheless believes that the country’s very own is on its way to finding a niche—that of giving the market something that “not everyone” is wearing.
He hopes this niche will be all the more defined by PhFW 2016, where he promises to work hard in inviting foreign press and buyers to Manila, as well as the launch of an online fashion week edition with live streaming reach a market outside the country.
Day 1: Proving a point
Models constantly slipping on the runway were not a good opening salvo for the Holiday 2015 season of the struggling but surviving Philippine Fashion Week (PhFW). But as cliché as it sounds, what comes down must go up. And this was what PhFW was able to prove.
For Day 1 of the three-day fashion festivity, PhFW continued its push for showcasing wearable creations by fusing fashion and technology, all thanks to the generous support of Power Mac Center.
This new partnership allowed PhFW designers to collaborate with digital lifestyle brands available inside Power Mac Center including Beats by Dr Dre, Happy Plugs, Moshi, Case-Mate, Gosh!, and Knomo London.
Designer Sydney Perez Sio, who closed the opening day, was the best example of this collaboration. Inspired by popular American music brand Beats by Dr. Dre, Perez Sio presented a modernized take on the country’s premium local textile, the piña. Overall, he brought the good vibes throughout his presentation with funky silhouettes, pop colors and digital prints mimicking barong embroideries.
But originality was scarce that day as previous designer Lyle Ibañez who partnered with Happy Plug, also a music accessory label but from Stockholm. Just like Sio, Ibañez also brought to stage piña tops, cover-ups, and gowns for women but with more elegant silhouettes.
It was a different case for designer Jian Lasala who chose to highlight two this era’s undying trends: shiny appliqués and sheer fabrics.
On the other hand, established Filipino designer Anthony Nocom offered something different on Day 1 as he showcased a full suite of men’s clothing that ranged from corporate to casual. His ensembles were complemented by bags and cases for gadgets from Moshi, an American company founded in 2005 and debuted in the Philippines through PhFW.
Also featured on Day 1 were EsAc designers Mixy Dy and AudieAE who opened the Philippine Fashion Week with very wearable pieces; and Boyet Dysangco for Case-Mate who created sexy and small dresses to complement the smartphone cases.
Day 2: Designers only
On Day 2 of PhFW Holiday 2015, designers took center stage in the festival’s first ever year without mainstream clothing brands participating. An advantage for the designers though, they saw their hard work bear fruit almost instantly with pop-up stores making sales from their runway clothes.
For longtime PhFW designer Arnold Galang, the new set up is definitely a plus for ready-to-wear designers like himself. “I think this is more favorable for us participating designers since we are given more time, focus and attention. And as for me who is more into off-the-rack clothes, the mall venue introduces my label to real people on the streets,” he told The Manila Times.
Galang’s “One” collection, inspired by his involvement with the “I am for peace” campaign for Mindanao, opened for Day 2 with floor-lengths in a combination of floral prints and solid colors with subtle floral appliqués.
‘Swank + Swag’ by Cherry Samuya Veric was up next with a surprising combination of luxe and streetwear. It was all about black and gold lace for this collection, made more edgy with baseball caps and knee-high boots. The show is a thrill from start to finish as it gradually transitioned from shorts and skirts to dresses and pants, and finally, to elaborate ball gowns.
Straps and textures were the order of the day for Jerome Salaya Ang’s ‘Fallen’ with bulky ensembles, dangerously high-slit skirts and unpredictable cuts. His color palette was also erratic going from sleek black and white to pops of fiery orange and bright pink.
The most laidback of the day’s collections was that of Jeffrey Rogador who once again infused Pinoy culture with streetwear. After the success of his “JPNY” collection last season, he now paid homage to national heroes with watercolor prints of Andres Bonifacio, Apolinario Mabini and Melchora Aquino.
Halfway through Day Two, Noel Crisostomo captured the audience’s attention a bright quirky yellow showstopper. For a grand finale, Roland Alzate showed how holiday fashion is done with red and green plaids, shimmery jewel-toned fabrics, and heavy fur coats.
Day 3: Pure extravagance
The last day of Philippine Fashion Week Holiday 2015 spared no extravagance with trips to Japan through Kaye Morales’ “Katana” collection, and “Modern Sicily” through Pat Santos’ sophisticated collection.
The modernized kimonos in moody dark hues and fiery reds of “Katana” comprised the installment of Morales’ sartorial trilogy; the previous two being “Melancholia” and “Centipede.” More than a line of clothes, the series is a reflection of Morales’ emotional development and strength.
“It’s a painful cycle of destruction and recreation until all the impurities are filtered out. Until finally, only something refined, infused with soul, and beautiful just by being can emerge,” she said.
From the Eastern influence of Japan, Santos then brought everyone to Italy with her interpretation of “Modern Sicily.” Pantone’s color of the year “Marsala” has heavy presence in Santos’ set of mesh neoprene dresses, palazzo pantsand coats.
The other designers featured on Day 3 were not left behind like Randall Solomon who opted for pastel silk and flower embellishments, as well as Philipp Tampus whose menswear look almost futuristic with its unique color-blocking.
Jun Jun Cambe’s models were a sight to behold as they cascaded down the catwalk with trapeze capes billowing around them. These elaborate silhouettes, with the addition of palazzo pants, closed the show with Raoul Ramirez’ suite for PhFW Holiday 2015.