Designing the fashion industry’s future
To push the Filipino designer to go beyond the Philippine market.
That’s the general goal of the first PHx Fashion Conference, a “designer-led” forum that aims to address both creative and business concerns of the local fashion industry—particularly, how to make a name for Filipino brands in the global market while maintaining strong local presence.
“We’re not saying that the Philippine market is not enough—because it is. There’s a lot of growth in the Philippine market,” says Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Aranaz founder and creative director, president of the Fashion Design Council of the Philippines, and one of the conference’s speakers.
“However, I believe that we also have a responsibility to tell the Filipino [fashion] story to the rest of the world,” Aranaz adds. “We have a place in the international market.”
Happening on Nov. 11-14 at Philippine Trade Training Center in Pasay City, the conference is a collaboration among young designers Esme Palaganas, Seph Bagasao, Jennifer Contreras and Bea Samson, who call themselves PHx—“PH” stands for the Philippines, while “x” represents the global collaborations they plan to pursue, starting with this conference.
Their first target market overseas: Japan.
As PHx Fashion Conference project adviser, former fashion model Teresa Matera, says the idea to focus on this market came from the Asian Fashion Meets Tokyo-Philippines project, which has allowed Filipino designers to be featured at the annual Tokyo Fashion Week during the past few years.
Matera is a consultant for the project.
“Having experienced the fashion industry there [in Japan], I realized that there is so much potential for our Filipino designers—except we don’t know how to go about [marketing our brand],” Matera says. “And that frustrates me, because every time I wear something by one of our designers, I always hear ‘Oh, that’s so nice, where did you buy it?’”
The four-day conference will dive into the Japanese market’s culture and patterns, export costing and pricing, and modes of distribution. It will also discuss how Philippine fashion can create a relevant global presence, and how Filipino designers can compete in today’s digitally operated global fashion industry.
“In my—and other brands’—experience, we had to navigate [the international market] through hits and misses,” Alunan says. “With this conference, we want to share these experiences to the next generation, whom I believe will, with a little bit more knowledge, information and access, can do so much more.”
Matera adds that the conference is also about giving today’s young designers “the responsibility to do something for future generations that is actually relevant and meaningful.”
PHx Fashion Conference speakers include Australian fashion director and editor Jason Lee Coates, and marketing and business administration expert Hirohito Suzuki of H3O Fashion Bureau. Established in 2006, H3O discovers the freshest brands and emerging talents from Japan, Asia and the world, and helps them create a strong base in both the Japanese and global fashion industry.
Matera will also be speaking at the conference, along with fashion retailer Mike Concepcion; London-trained designer Carl Jan Cruz, former fashion and lifestyle journalist and cofounder of Tokyo-based skin care brand Damdam Giselle Go; Pauline Juan, Department of Trade and Industry (DTI)-Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions executive director and former fashion editor; founder and designer of Tokyo-based Filipino clothing and shoe brand JMan, Johann Manas; and coowner and design director for Proudrace, Rik Rasos.
Aside from the series of creative talks, panel discussions and workshops, select participants will also get a chance to have their design portfolio reviewed by Coates, Suzuki and Matera.
“This is just the beginning; eventually we will also explore other markets,” Matera says. “For now, we will start where we are confident, so we can bring in people who can really help our young designers.”
The PHx Fashion Conference is copresented by DTI (through the PTTC) and FDCP (visit www.phxfashion.org; follow @phxconference on Instagram).
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