Sunday, January 31, 2010

Robin Tomas On The Radar

You know how some journalists say that "news finds you"? This is exactly happened when Berry, my sister Trina and I walked past The TimesCenter in the Garment District some days back.

There was a Supima Fabric Show going on and I have to be honest, it was the fabrics that got to me first. I love fabric stores as much as I love Barneys and seeing displays of cotton in all weaves and colors just reeled me in. We went inside and asked if I could check out the fabrics. A very helpful PR intern at the door pointed out that there was a design competition going on and I realized I could write about that.

Since I was in a hurry to get back home with Berry still sleeping inside her sling, we just exchanged details. Soon after, I got in touch with the PR firm and received the press release announcing the winners of the design competition. As fate would have it, Filipino designer Robin Tomas won "Best T-shirt Design", which meant his winning shirt design would be produced and sold at Bloomingdale's. That's a pretty big deal for designers who want their name and work put out there for the market to see!

Here's my interview with Robin Tomas right after his win, published in the Philippine Star last Sunday.

Robin Tomás Gets His Shirt On


By Christine Dychiao
(The Philippine Star) January 31, 2010

NEW YORK — Six emerging labels and the seven talented young designers behind them were given a chance to send their capsule collections down the runway to an audience of buyers, editors, retailers, and fashion influencers, at the Supima Design Competition last Jan. 19.

The design contest, sponsored by Supima (which stands for Superior Pima cotton and the association representing American pima cotton growers) was held at The Times Center in Manhattan’s Garment District.

This annual event is meant to showcase the next generation of fashion talent and the possibilities of Supima, “the cashmere of cottons.”

All finalists were provided with models, hairstylists and makeup artists, and generously supplied with Supima fabrics, which come from the same mills that supply licensees like Ralph Lauren, Brooks Brothers, and Lilly Pulitzer.

All six finalists presented three pieces of women’s evening wear and a T-shirt design to a panel of judges — industry heavyweights composed of Teri Agins of The Wall Street Journal, Simon Collins of Parsons School of Design, Chris Frye of Bloomingdale’s, Horacio Silva of The New York Times and Buxton Midyette of Supima.

NYU art graduate and designer Gina de Silva won “Best in Show” while our very own Robin Tomás, a product of Parsons, Gap, Tommy Hilfiger and J.Crew — and son of comedienne Tessie Tomas — bagged the “Best in T-shirt” award.

His design, an innovative triple-layered piece, will be produced and sold at Bloomingdale’s.

The winning T-shirt design of tonal layers of tissue-weight supima cotton jersey

Still reeling from his win and the realization of what he has accomplished, On The Radar spoke to Robin about his jump from advertising to fashion, the design competition, his future plans, and what a T-shirt made of lightweight Supima has put on his shoulders.

PHILIPPINE STAR: You graduated with a degree in graphic design from UP Diliman and worked in advertising. Was it an easy transition into fashion?

ROBIN TOMAS: I didn’t immediately know I would be in the fashion industry. But it was definitely an easy transition for me as both industries rely heavily on one’s creative idea balanced with knowing one’s market/audience/client.

What was the turning point or catalyst that made you decide to shift from advertising to fashion?

A big chunk of the decision was my torrid love affair with New York City, and the thought that fashion was a passion I could nurture in New York. Fashion gave me the avenue to be creative and the freedom to individuate as an artist.

What made you decide to go to Parsons?

I decided to go to Parsons in 2000, after having worked in the advertising industry in Manila for two years after college. I fell in love with Parsons and was thrilled with the alumni (Marc Jacobs, Donna Karan, Anna Sui, the Proenza Schouler tandem, etc.)

Are there designers who inspire you?

I look up to Ann Demeulemeester of Antwerp, Tom Ford, YSL, Valentino.

Where do you draw your inspiration from?

I look to nature, happy accidents, a rare coral, an exotic flower’s pistil, how the sun hits Riverside Drive from bay windows at dusk, etc. And most of the time, fabrics speak volumes in terms of designs.

You showed during Manila Fashion Week and recently started a couture line in Manila. Where are you selling there and how is it doing?

We are in the stages of looking to consigning pieces, and beginning to work for special couture projects for clients in Manila.

You are still based in New York. Are you still working here apart from doing your own line back home?

Yes, I still work on projects for fashion companies and clients here in New York and at the same time selling my collection to the New York market.

How has designing for Gap, Tommy Hilfiger & J. Crew prepared you for this competition?

It taught me about my market, to focus on the “rules” of the game, to leverage on the aesthetic integrity combined with the marketability of the product/design. What I mean by “rules” of the game is, however creative, right-brained, artsy fashion is, we have to think of the bottom line, the business, the fact that clothing is a product that has to be sold and has to be bought.

What made you decide to join the Supima Design Competition? How long did you prepare for it?

I wanted to join the competition to see how I would fare in the New York playing field, to gain exposure and great experience no matter what the outcome of the competition may be. I began preparations shortly before open calls were held at Bloomingdale’s last October 2009.

You mentioned this was actually your first time to design a T-shirt, that it was a challenge and that you’ll “never look at a T-shirt again the same way.”

Let’s face it, most of the time a T-shirt is something we just put on and that’s it. But it was my first time to sew a very flimsy, stretchy type of fabric. Supima cotton tee fabric is really soft and amazing, but it can be a challenge under the needle. And so it made me appreciate and respect the T-shirt.

All the six finalists showed eveningwear along with a T-shirt design? What was the inspiration behind your collection, especially your winning triple-layered shirt design?

Double layer denim gown on the bias with beaded hem applique

Twill Weave Ballgown with Gazaar inserts back detail

The basic idea for my collection (evening gowns and T-shirt) was the juxtaposition of the quality of the cotton fiber, the polished next to the raw edges. So my gowns were frayed in parts, either on the backside, on an applique, and for the T-shirt, the top layer was hemmed clean, while the remaining two under layers were raw edged.

What was going through your mind when your collection was going down the runway?

I was excited, nervous and couldn’t quite believe that New York was seeing my pieces for the first time.

How did you feel when they announced that you won Best in T-shirt, and how does it feel to have your design sold at Bloomingdale’s?

To tell you honestly, I am still shell-shocked by the fact. But when they announced it, of course I was in awe and quite speechless when I had to go out onstage. I can’t wait to see my design in the stores.

Is there a possibility for your winning shirt design to be made available in Manila?

Very much so, I am looking to grow it into a capsule collection for the Manila market.

What did your parents say about you winning? Especially your mom, whom you’ve always said is your staunchest supporter.

My parents are very happy. My mom flew in to watch the show, which was very special for me. Win or lose, she was very proud.

Are you setting your sights towards launching your label internationally as well?

Definitely. This experience has been a great catalyst to the next steps, which are to create the next collection, to form various partnerships, and get the clothes out there.

What tips or advice can you give to young people who want to go into fashion design?

To hold on to their dreams, to their ideas, visualize what they want to be as a designer, and be resilient, industrious and creative. Hold on to the great qualities inherent in us Pinoys — adaptable, jovial, and hardworking — with a smile.

* * *

For more on Robin Tomás go to

Friday, January 29, 2010

Uncommon Gifts

My friend Ingrid aka The Baghag has great taste - not only in bags but also when it comes to gift-giving. Her presents are always thoughtful, quirky, witty and definitely display worthy!

Take this Calf & Half creamer Ing sent me from Uncommon Goods (which happens to have tons of great gift ideas! It's worth checking out!)

It adds a touch of whimsy to an otherwise random task of drinking coffee! Like getting milk or cream stright from a cow's udder, heehee!

I usually go to Anthropologie and Amazon for hostess and birthday presents, but Uncommon Goods is now on my to go list when it comes to gift giving! I've got Ing to thank for that!

This is another adorable piece from her that our guests make a go for, whether they be 2 or 40! A tic-tac-toe set with playing pieces made out of bags and shoes! Who can't resist shiny bits that you can literally play with? Berry especially loves to crawl her way out of my arms to get a piece in her mouth. I make it a point to keep this away from her though. Too young for purses and heels Berry!

Here's another cute piece that hangs just outside our kitchen. Ingrid knows I enjoy cooking so she thoughtfully got me this one time we were out shopping in Binondo. So cute and so me!

I know sometimes getting a generic gift is such an easy way out, but a thoughtful present can definitely make anyone's day! It's also a good reminder to keep in touch, because you're never out of sight somehow! Thanks for the presents and the inspiration Ing!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shoe Fetish

I'm loving these studded oxfords and loafers from Louboutin! I'm not loving their price though.

Aptly called Freddy, the look is tough and a bit scary, especially the price! At $995 a pair, hello Freddy Krueger! It's for pre-order now at Saks.

This Rollerball loafer is so my thing! But then again, it's $995 too. So, no thanks!

Besides, I already have this Jackson loafer from Repetto which I bought way before. But since it's winter, I have no intentions of wearing them out. I have been traumatized by Repettos worn in winter. I'm not ready for frozen feet again. It looks kind of fugly here but once worn... transforms! It's definitely a keeper! I can't wait for the weather to get warmer!

Now this Jackson loafer with strass crystals is a a tamer and more elegant version of the Rollerball. Definitely cheaper than Louboutins, it's much more expensive than the original patent Jacksons though. It's sold at for $330.

Price wise, I'm happy with my loafers. This is it!

(Photos from,,,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

It's Official! The iPad is Here!

The Apple Tablet was no rumor!

In a nutshell, it's...

The best way to experience the web, email, photos, and video. Hands down.

All of the built-in apps on iPad were designed from the ground up to take advantage of the large, Multi-Touch screen. And they’ll work in any orientation. So you can do things with these apps you can’t do on any other device.

A large, high-resolution LED-backlit, IPS display. An incredibly responsive Multi-Touch screen. And an amazingly powerful, Apple-designed chip. All in a design that’s thin and light enough to take anywhere. iPad isn’t just the best device of its kind. It’s a whole new kind of device.

iPad will run almost 140,000 apps from the App Store. So you can use all those incredibly fun and useful apps — including everything from games to productivity apps — right out of the box.

Pricing starts at $499.

*Wi-Fi models shipping in late March.
*3G models shipping in April.

All info from! Read all about it --> here!

Monday, January 25, 2010

Back In Town!

I'm so excited, I just can't hide it. I'm about to post all my Hello Kitty/Sanrio finds and I think you'll like it!

Heehee, sorry if that sounded corny. You see, my blog in Sanriotown is up and running again after a brief hiatus. But it's back! It's back and it's going to be chock-full of Sanrio finds I discovered while out in the shops. It's guaranteed to make any Hello Kitty fan from 5 to 45 squeal with delight!

Here's a sneak peek:

A stuffed toy. Nothing new, these have been round when I was a little girl. But still, classic and cute!

SMS Text Messenger. Take note, capable of wireless instant messaging! Very gossip Girl-ish too!

Bathing goodies! For the little girl who hates baths, maybe this is a good incentive?

This is major! A Hello Kitty gum ball and water dispenser! Wouldn't this be cool if you were 7 years old and you had this in your room?

There's more, and I'll be posting everything over at Sanriotown a day at a time. But aren't these fun and amazing? Makes me wish I was a kid again! Good thing Berry's here, she'll be my excuse to buy. Heehee, just kidding. Hmmm, not really.

P.S. Why don't you sign-up over at Sanriotown so we can see each other there too? It's free and worth your time, promise!

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Baby Booty

Thanks Tita Melissa! Berry's Baby Levi's fit her now! It's all she's been wearing this winter!

Thanks for the Janie & Jack turtleneck too Tita Trina and Uncle Jun!

Friday, January 22, 2010

Sharing My Outfit Day: Running Errands

It's difficult to take outfit shots when there's a little girl who won't let go of me...


Jacket: Hoss Intropia
Breton shirt: A.P.C.
Cardigan: J. Crew
Scarf: AllSaints
Boyfriend Chino: J. Crew
Shoes: Rag & Bone

My favorite pair of shoes these days...

Which I found out a month ago is exactly the same as Lynn Yaeger's!

The Great Reveal

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Spanx® Now in the Philippines!

Women in the know have long discovered the secret to slimming down in an instant - it's simply Spanx®! An innovative line of slimming garments that effectively minimizes figure flaws, thanks to Sara Blakely, its founder and owner. Back in 1998, she found inspiration from visible panty lines (VPLs) and uncomfortable thongs. A frustrated consumer, Sara invented footless pantyhose, creating a national brand and leading a shapewear revolution. Today, Sara has created over 150 problem-solving products leaving countless women feeling great and confident in no time!

Thing is, for women in the Philippines at least, access to the complete line of Hollywood’s best kept secret was only available abroad, online, if not seasonally during bazaar season. But now, visit Rustans and you'll have Spanx® answering every concern imaginable!


Whether you need a tummy and thigh tamer or a waistline minimizer, Spanx’ line of hosiery performs wonders with patented technology that keeps the legs from rising up or causing bulges on the thighs! It’s perfect for everyday use and on special occasions for a slimmer silhouette. Power Panties® and Higher Power® are two of Oprah Winfrey’s favorites, guaranteed to slim, smooth and boost any woman’s confidence!


Responding to consumer demand of wanting the upper body and back to be streamlined, Spanx® entered into the new category of foundations with the launch of Bra-llelujah®! This figure-flattering bra not only provides the support and comfort women need, but also reduces the appearance of bra lines and bulges while blending in like second skin for a smooth, sleek finish. With the back and straps made out of soft hosiery, this bra is so comfortable you forget you have it on.

Body Smoothers

For women seeking light compression undergarments, Hide and Sleek® gently slims and smoothes the midriff, waist and thigh areas for a sleeker and firmer look. Available in different cuts and colors, the Hide and Sleek® line carries camisoles, shaping panties and body suits, thigh-smoothers, girl shorts, etc. to name a few, they are designed not to cling to your clothes, for a barely-there finish.

Body Shapers

If you’ve ever dreamed of shedding pounds pronto, SPANX Slim Cognito® does just the trick! A collection of seamless body shapers, it provides maximum compression that trims down visual pounds and contours curves. Available with the Slim Cognito® line are body-shaping camisoles, panties, mid-thigh shapers and bodysuits.

SPANX shapers are a must have style staple for Hollywood’s leading ladies. Stars included in the Spanx Celebrity Watch List are Oprah Winfrey, Tyra Banks, Kim Kardashian, Jessica Alba, Katherine Heigl, Julia Roberts, Queen Latifah, Cameron Diaz, Penelope Cruz, Beyonce and Nicole Kidman to name a few. Discover Hollywood’s secret for yourself and feel the difference of a sexier, more confident Y-O-U!

Spanx is exclusively distributed by Rustan Marketing Corporation and available at Rustan’s Department Stores in Makati, Shangri-la and Alabang.

P.S. Of course, for those wanting a more affordable alternative, there's always Assets by Sara Blakely! Same designer, just without the Spanx® brand ;)

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Color Story

From dark circles under the eyes to a decidedly "green in the gills" complexion to puffy, swollen eyes, sudden zit breakouts and dry, chapped lips, seasonal skin problems can abound for many women. The good news: Not only are there things you can do right now to ensure your angelic "glow", but there are also some cosmetic tricks and tips to keep your skin clear and healthy this New Year.

As the illustrious season of hearts draws nearer, Elizabeth Arden once again brings to women their latest Ceramide Make-up Collection. Powered by the advanced treatment technology of Ceramide science, Ceramide Makeup is considered as the first word in skin-caring beauty. It brings more color and anti-aging benefits to its collection with two luxurious new products, plus an exciting new range of lipstick shades: Ceramide Skin Smoothing Concealer, Ceramide Cream Blush, and Ceramide Plump Perfect Lipstick.

Reduce dark circles and hide other under-eye flaws for that romantic dinner with Ceramide Skin Smoothing Concealer. It goes beyond hiding dark circles and minimizing the appearance of fine lines as it firms and tones the look of delicate under-eye skin caused by a colder climate or lack of sleep.

The soft and creamy cheek colors of Ceramide Cream Blush blends evenly, bringing a natural-looking glow. It visually lifts and contours the look of cheeks while providing anti-ageing protection. With a dewy finish, it gives any style maven that fresh and youthful glow.

The five new shades of the Ceramide Plump Perfect Lipstick brings effortless style as it takes its lip plumping, moisturizing, and voluptuous color line-up to a whole new level. Its picture perfect shades with the long lasting effect match with any individual statement coming in Perfect Scarlet, Perfect Melon, Perfect Tulip and Perfect Flamingo.

Get your special someone to take a second glance as your face glows with Elizabeth Arden’s Ceramide Makeup Collection and feel even more beautiful this season!

Elizabeth Arden Ceramide Color Story is exclusively distributed by Rustan Marketing Corporation and is available at Rustan’s Makati, Rustan’s Shangri-la, Rustan’s Alabang Town Center, Marionnaud SM Mall of Asia, Robinson’s Ermita, and Landmark Trinoma.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Berry Goes to Bryant Park

Berry and I went to the Philippine Consulate yesterday to take care of our passports and we asked my sister Trina to come along. Of course, we had to show Berry The Pond at Bryant Park. The Park looks totally transformed during the winter, although it is very pretty in the summer too!

Thing is though, we just came from a little bit of window shopping and so she was asleep. As is usually the case when we're out in the shops. Grandma says Berry is well trained because she never gets fussy inside stores. I think she loves being in the stores and understands that Mommy needs all the time to go through the racks, hahaha. What a good baby!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Simple Joys

Home made banana muffin...

and Nutella...


I've forgotten how good Nutella is! Back when we were kids, a jar of Nutella would only last a week max! Again, I remember why.

UPDATE: Here's the recipe we used from!


* 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
* 1 teaspoon baking powder
* 1 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 3 large bananas, mashed
* 3/4 cup white sugar
* 1 egg
* 1/3 cup butter, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Coat muffin pans with non-stick spray, or use paper liners. Sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
2. Combine bananas, sugar, egg, and melted butter in a large bowl. Fold in flour mixture, and mix until smooth. Scoop into muffin pans. (Mix in and/or top with walnuts if you like)
3. Bake in preheated oven. Bake mini muffins for 10 to 15 minutes, and large muffins for 25 to 30 minutes. Muffins will spring back when lightly tapped.

Friday, January 15, 2010

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Meet the Filipina Behind the Olarte-Foussard Showroom

I've long been a fan of the Thai label Sretsis, and I've seen how popular the line is from LA to NY. An amazing feat considering the line is an Asian label borne out of Bangkok. I also couldn't help but wonder how the Sukhahuta sisters and their pretty, whimsical dresses managed to break into the hard to penetrate US market, where being a pretty dress just isn't enough. So for my first article of the year for The Radar, I asked Emee Olarte-Foussard how homegrown Filipino designers can make a go for the international market. She should know, not only is she the owner of the showroom that reps Sretsis here in the US, she happens to be born and raised in the Philippines!

NEW YORK — While retail stores and customers are gearing up for Spring, buyers, designers and showrooms are busy prepping for Fall 2010. Working ahead of the calendar is the norm for fashion folks behind the frontlines. Their timelines and dynamics are totally different, shaping and driving the fashion industry, as we know it.

Belonging to this tight circle of industry movers and shakers is Emee Olarte-Foussard, the first Filipina to own and run a designer showroom in New York City.

Her showroom, a loft in the hip downtown neighborhood of SoHo, is packed with cult labels. Collections from Sretsis (Thailand), MS Martine Sitbon, Abaco and Aris Geldis (France), Hoss (Spain), Humanoid (The Netherlands), Twin-Set (Italy), and Eyedoll (L.A.) sit side by side each other, interspersed with her personal collection of ‘80s vintage and contemporary furniture, lighting fixtures and flea market finds.

Emee, who graduated from UST with a degree in Interior Design, knew she wanted to work in fashion right from the beginning. The initial plan was to go into fashion photography and follow in the footsteps of Man Ray, Bruce Weber and Annie Leibovitz.

While on sabbatical from her post-graduate studies in Los Angeles, she took up photography at Parsons Paris, but was diverted into the business of fashion by way of Les Bains.

Emee shares her story and doles out valuable tips on how homegrown Filipino designers can build a global market.

Who knows, 2010 could be the year born and bred Filipino designers find themselves selling to buyers from New York, LA, Paris and Tokyo. Right on time for Spring/Summer 2011.

On The Radar: How did you get into fashion?

EMEE OLARTE-FOUSARD: When I was growing up, my mom was so much into fashion. She was always well-dressed, I was highly influenced by her. While I was a student in UST, I also worked at Collectiones New York, owned by Mariliese Evaristo. It was the first designer label-driven boutique in the Philippines. I just love clothes for art’s sake! Then I lived in hedonistic Paris in the late ‘80s. My roommate was Alexandre de Clermont-Tonerre, son of the fashion directrice of Chanel, Marie-Louise de Clermont-Tonnere. We ended up hanging out at Les Bains, where the likes of Thierry Mugler, Claude Montana, Ines de la Fressange, and Karl Lagerfeld partied. That was a big influence. When I went back to LA, I just started going to LA Mart, where I met my husband Yves, whose sister was with Sonia Rykiel.

When did you start your showroom?

In 1991, I opened a showroom in Los Angeles but we moved to New York after the California earthquake. I started out of a basement in Chelsea showing couture. Imagine, a basement! I cannot forget the memory of Judy Collinson of Barneys coming in her limo, in the snow, and coming in to my basement showroom.

What was it like at the beginning?

It was so tough at first. There were only five European showrooms and here I was, this “Asiatique.” The industry was very New York/Jewish dominated. I started with couture: Rochas. But because I started with couture, it was difficult to not take me seriously. I was dealing with the likes of Peter Cohen, Antonio Marras (now designer for the House of Kenzo), Eric Sartori (the assistant of Azzedine Alaïa who eventually designed for Hervé Léger and Marni) and Marcel Marongiu (now fashion director for Guy Laroche).

I made the jump from couture to prêt-a-porter after 9/11. I remember it was the first day of New York Fashion Week. For two weeks nobody came, I had to send the couture collections out. But with commercial collections, I can work with longer selling times and better price points.

What’s it like working in the fashion industry in Paris and NYC?

It is definitely a high. Imagine, working with the designers, being part of the design process before the collection is launched, conceptual shopping with the designers, working the front and back of the house, going to the runway shows at the tents in Bryant Park, Carrousel du Louvre in Paris, and Milan.

I am often invited to sit front row at Sao Paulo Fashion Week, Madrid Fashion Week, Bangkok and Hong Kong Fashion Week, etc. I get asked for my opinions of the designers and looks shown on the runway. I love it! It’s like working and playing. Working while learning more!

What is the industry really like from an insider’s perspective? Is it as glamorous, catty, and cutthroat as it is perceived to be?

The fashion industry is glamorous in the sense that you meet all these interesting people, seeing them and working with the people you just read about. Catty? Yes, but interesting and opinionated at a creative and social level.

How has the industry changed from when you first started?

Now there are no barriers. If you want to open a showroom you just can. One can come in with very little experience of working in a showroom, selling. You don’t need taste. Back then you had to have discipline, the eye.

Before, collections were serious. It would take a while to develop a collection. Designers were all about a theme, a direction. Now, it’s trend-, street-driven. Some even just need a week to come up with a collection based on what they see people are (already) wearing on the street. There’s no such need for breaking barriers and being innovative. It is based on commerce, whatever sells. I am not saying this in general. There are still lots of exceptional thoughts and ideas, but those are more the exception than the norm.

I still believe it is important to know the history of clothing, the rigor and discipline of understanding how clothes are made. There should be an appreciation for the process. Like I could spend a day staring into the front window of Christian Dior in Avenue Montaigne, looking at one coat of John Galliano’s — the draping, the scallops, the layering of yards of tulle, the fagotting, the pouffing of a sleeve, the talent of being able to do that to a dress without looking like Marie Antoinette’s!

What is the future of the industry now?

It will still go back to the way fashion was, but with a greater awareness of price points. I can see big houses going back to good design. The recession is just all about weeding out the bad grass. The real talented will survive, but they just have to adapt to the changing times.

In your opinion, why is it a challenge for our Filipino talents to make it abroad?

We have a lot of talented designers but they don’t want to invest money on a collection. It takes $20,000 to come up with a 50-piece collection backed by a business plan. You need more resources to buy the materials, manpower to produce 240 pieces per style per color once the orders are placed. Quality control to fine-tune rough edges and to stay on top of everything, trend-wise. Designers must also be aware of the market’s timelines, creating a collection months in advance.

Another challenge is to understand the market of volume and retail — this is not custom tailoring. I think it really boils down to adapting to the volume, which I think is the challenge. Being able to comply with the number of orders, being able to deliver on time, at the quality agreed upon. An investment of $20,000 can easily bring in a minimum of $150,000 to $190,000 worth of orders.

One more important aspect is originality. Transforming their design aesthetic into the modern world. Designs must look young, and interpreted in a modern way. The perfect example would be Pim Sukhahuta of Sretsis. Her label is from Bangkok, yet is a cult favorite in LA and NY, especially among the young celebrities. She learned the formula and she gets it. In a nutshell, it’s about interpreting designs in a way that the American and European market would wear it. Ethnic is good, as long as there is an element of originality. However, it has to be tweaked and adapted to “now” and made modern. Think Suno New York or what R+Y Augousti does for furniture and home accessories.

How can Filipino designers make it in the retail scene here?

You need to really know fashion in an original yet “broader” sense, and if you can, have a showroom to have credibility. You need a platform to sell your ideas, designs and run a profitable business. You can’t go store by store here. You need to sell to the whole country to sustain the business. And if you can, have a budget for press/press office, especially when you are just beginning. Later on, press will take care of itself.

What are your plans for the future?

Open a buying office in Paris and find the people to run it. I also plan on opening a retail store here in New York. I am not worried about the viability of what I am doing, retail is about knowing what people want. I plan on bringing in designs from India, Brazil, and Korea. I also want to bring in Filipino designers. I would be happy to train Filipino fashion students in my showroom. In the future, I want to go back to Manila and help train students. I am thinking of starting in UST, my alma mater.
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