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Platform for New Designers

Style Fest continues to support Filipino talent through its Designer Mentorship Program

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By KRISTELLE BECHAYDA

I t goes without saying that the creativity of Filipinos knows no bounds, especially when it comes to fashion. Over the years, several homegrown designers like Michael Cinco, Rajo Laurel, and Albert Andrada have gained international recognition because of their exquisite fashion tastes and detailed craftsmanship. And as trends come and go, so does another batch of budding designers who dream to leave their mark in this ever-evolving industry.

Having seen the potential of Filipino talent in this field, Globe Telecom’s 0917 Lifestyle was inspired to establish Style Fest in partnership with Saga Events last year. “With Style Fest, we are endeavoring to elevate the Filipino talent in terms of fashion. We want them to create designs that are truly out of this world, designs that will rock the fashion world very much,” said Globe Telecom’s CEO Ernest Cu during the press launch.

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INSIGHTFUL MENTORSHIP The eight finalists together with the Style Council, which is headed by the reputable Inno Sotto, with the help of designer Carl Jan Cruz, Zalora’s co-founder Paulo Campos, and 0917 head Leah De Guzman

This year’s Style Fest is set to happen from Nov. 4 to Nov. 6, its lineup is filled with insightful talks and sneak peeks at the latest collections. On the other hand, its Designer Mentorship Program (DMP) has already started where four finalists under the retail channel of Zalora and another four from its 0917 Lifestyle brand get to be mentored by the country’s top fashion experts.

Inno Sotto heads the style council, with the assistance of Carl Jan Cruz, Sidney Yap, Paulo Campos, and Leah De Guzman. On Nov. 5, the finalists will present their seven-piece collection where one winner from each group will be chosen to collaborate with his respective brand.

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MEET THE FINALISTS Austeen Soriano, Bessie Besana, Ia Coca, and Bea Guerrero from the Zalora team with Einar Nicdao, Justine Llarena, Neil Anthonie, and Adrian Sagahun of 0917 Lifestyle

This opportunity isn’t something any starting designer would want to miss. For Zalora finalist Bessie Besana, he plans to expand his atelier services and start making his own ready-to-wear line. By joining DMP, he says it will help him find out how to get started with that dream expansion.

“When I saw the ad about Style Fest and that it’s in alignment with what I really want to do, I said this is the opportunity for me. And to be mentored by some of the country’s best, I was already sold,” he said.

Einar Nicdao from the 0917 Lifestyle group also has the same reason for participating. The designer from Digos City is set to launch his own ready-to-wear brand soon and wants to broaden his knowledge about the industry.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Zalora finalists Ia Coca, Austeen Soriano, and Bea Guerrero are looking forward to what they will glean from the experience and how they can apply these lessons later on. “As of now, I don’t have any experience with ready-to-wear. So hopefully, I’ll learn to expand my brand into a ready-towear line and not just avant-garde and designer collections. So I would like to bring my brand out for it to be known,” said Guerrero.

We are actually endeavoring to raise the Filipino talent in terms of fashion. We want them to create designs that are truly out of this world, designs that will rock the fashion world very much.

When asked on the important takeaways the finalists will get from this mentorship, de Guzman shared they will be taught how to build their brand, as well as how to balance creativity and practicability in designing their pieces.

“It’s important to us that you can be creative but you know what, creative doesn’t sell all the time. So if you have all these ideas, you have to balance it with what’s commercial. Stick to what your design aesthetics would be but balance it off with what will sell,” said the head of 0917 Lifestyle.

This lineup would be helpful for 0917 finalists Jusine Llarena and Neil Anthonie who want to learn how to tone down their pieces, as well as effective ways to market them. “I have an existing brand but my weakness is I don’t know how to tone down my sources of fabric. So the pieces are expensive for other clients. In the mentorship here, we are being taught how to tone down the prices and what fabrics we’re going to buy so that the cost will be lower. So I’m excited to produce something that is more affordable,” Anthonie said.

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THE FUTURE IS NOW Fashion stylist and designer Bang Pineda collaborates with 0917 Lifestyle for a modern streetwear collection, which was previewed at the StyleFest PH press launch. The runway show on the whole 0917Bang collection is set to happen on Nov. 6.

When asked on her tips for those who wish to put up their own fashion brand, de Guzman suggested to establish their target audience first. “The key is knowing your market because you can’t be for everyone. If you don’t know who your market is, you’ll be swayed in different directions. So if you’re clear about who your market is, all will be centered towards that,” she said.

]She added it’s a wise move to start with an online platform first to be more cost-efficient. “Brick and mortar stores are expensive, right? You’d have to pay for consignment fees, etc. But online, your expenses are lower because you don’t have much operation costs. So really, increase your reach at the lowest cost so you reach profitability at the earliest stage,” de Guzman said.

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