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Manila Fame: Quality, design and profitability

MANILA, Philippines—Manila Fame is getting bigger and better.

On March 14, the country’s premier design and lifestyle event will carry the theme “Beyond Artisanship” as it consolidates the various design-driven sectors with the fashion industry.

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Spearheaded by the international fashion icon Josie Natori, Manila Fame aims to showcase the treasure trove of talent here in the Philippines. Natori will be joined by a ‘dream team’ composed of the country’s top and up-and-coming fashion designers. Rajo Laurel, Inno Sotto and JC Buendia will be among the designers who will pitch in their ideas.

Manila Fame targets to exceed its contribution of $194.68 million to the total Philippine merchandise exports in 2010.

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Center for International Trade Expositions and Missions (Citem), the export promotions arm of the Department of Trade and Industry, aims to introduce the Philippines as a premier design destination in Asia by bringing together four world-class event brands: Manila Fame, Manila Now, Cebu Next and Bijoux Cebu.

Rosvi Gaetos, executive director of Citem, says that Manila Fame is all about design and quality but it should always be profitable.

She says “that by the integration of the brands, we will be able to unify the industry and bring back the design to what it was before and bring it to the next level.”

She adds that Fame’s October 2011 show has led to a 97 percent increase in foreign buyers. She explains that the increase means that these buyers are in need of a market that will sell directly to them and Manila Fame provides the venue for the trade.

“Manila Fame also gives exporters more room for negotiations. Markets are price-sensitive and so we offer them flexibility with our cheap products with better quality, to medium-priced ones to the ultra-high price. But it’s not all about the price, it’s about the design. And we believe that design is our competitive edge,” Gaetos says.

In 2011, export sales grew to 67 percent attributed to the increased demand for holiday giveaways.

With the addition of fashion accessories and design, Trade Secretary Gregory Domingo expects this year’s exports to rise to 11 percent.

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“Quality is very important. Though we cannot compete in price, we can compete with our artisanship,” Domingo adds. He also points out that the local market is strengthening by 50 percent. He attributes the increase to the boost in other sectors such as tourism and real estate.

Josie Natori describes her partnership with Manila Fame as a journey to promote the artisanship and craftsmanship of the Filipinos. She says that the eye for details of the Filipinos is what makes them unique and above par in Asia. Natori believes that the Philippines can become the “Italy of Asia.”

Manila Fame not only wants to showcase the design of the Filipino artists but also to work with small and medium entrepreneurs (SMEs) to help them move up to the international market. Gaetos adds that it has been the battle cry of Citem to arm SMEs with valuable design insights, guidelines and programs that help Philippine products to become world-class.

With the addition of fashion industry, Trade Secretary Domingo aims to revive the garment industries here. He says that foreign investors are setting up garment factories in the country because as compared to China, labor is cheaper here. “We offer a cheaper and relatively stable environment as compared to other Asian countries,” Domingo says.

The 55th edition of Manila Fame is scheduled on March 14-17 at the SMX Convention Center.

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TAGS: Citem, Design, Fashion, Manila FAME, Philippines
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