By REY ROBES ILAGAN

Even with the looming recession, the fashion industry evolves with the times, currently, to protect the already frail sector during this pandemic. Financial consulting groups have predicted a 25 to 35 percent drop in overall sales as brands shut down brick and mortar boutiques, department stores cancel collection orders, and people curtail fashion purchases. These disruptions have cost luxury fashion $600 billion in lost revenue.
Unfortunately, the Philippines is on trend in this aspect of drastic changes. As designers and fashion businesses retool their ateliers and factories to produce more essentials like protective wear and gear, the local industry is prepared to reevaluate its whole design and production procedures to shape shift and adapt. This dialogue is the silver lining that will be used to tailor a new future, so we can dress to impress generations to come.
Manila Bulletin Lifestyle converses with fashion insiders to talk about the industry’s future, the new style statement, and personal reflections during this great pause in our lives. In this exclusive interview, we hear from Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines president and accessories designer Amina Aranaz-Alunan, celebrity stylist and former fashion magazine editor Bea Constantino, Piopio founder and creative director Paloma Zobel, and San Juan City first lady and style icon Keri Zamora.

Paloma Zobel and Bea Constantino

What do you think is the new style statement in the era of Covid-19?
Paloma: Safety and comfort.
Bea: Two words come to my mind, functionality and sustainability. We are currently going through strange times and we need outfits that give us comfort, safety, and durability.
Keri: I believe we’re going back to basics—keeping things simple and comfortable.
Amina: If we are talking about trends without considering appropriation and function, there are definitely trend directions toward “protective wear,” back to basics, and essentials.

Do you think fashion will return to the basics?
Amina: Yes, it may in the immediate future. Out of need, function, and due to the economic impact. There will surely be a period of change and “blossoming,” however, such as what happened post-World War II when Christian Dior’s new look was introduced.
Paloma: I’m hoping people will put more thought into their purchases. Whether basics or statement pieces, we should really be studying the brands we support.

How does one wear sustainability?
Bea: Sustainability has a plethora of meanings but the way that it applies to me is wearing pieces that have stood and will stand the test of time because, that way, it will prolong my need to purchase items that will end up in landfills.
Paloma: By supporting brands that offer full transparency into their supply chain and manufacturing processes. Support brands that create lasting and timeless products.
Amina: Wear it with much responsibility, commitment, and understanding. I am very wary about using the term sustainability. One must avoid using it because it is the “popular” thing.

Are fashion consumers today rethinking the way they purchase?
Keri: Yes, most especially now when you’re supposed to lessen going out of the house. You now realize and are forced to prioritize what’s more important. So we buy less, we pollute less.
Paloma: I think consumers are rethinking everything. These months have given us a glimpse of what life used to be like when things were slower paced, when we had time to stop and appreciate things, and when we didn’t need a million products to make us happy. More than ever, people want to connect with their products and learn the story behind them.

How can one wear personal and community responsibility?
Amina: One can do this by understanding what you are really buying and using, being mindful in consumer choices. This is not about judging and shaming others who do not. But it is about making your own choices and not simply riding on the “herd mentality.”
Bea: Personal responsibility I guess depends on one’s own values and commitment to make changes within their circle. I try in small ways like reusing packaging I receive and supporting brands that use ethically-made materials, those who adopt a zero-waste business model.

FORUM1-INSIDE2

Keri Zamora and Amina Aranaz Alunan

Stella McCartney said that the fashion industry needs to change the way it handles wastage and should use this time to have a conscious outcome. What can one learn from this great pause in terms of how fashion is?
Bea: My mom always tells me “want not, waste not” and I think this is a good time to not just reevaluate but suggest solutions to change directions from what used to be a volume-driven industry to a sustainable-driven one. I personally do not have answers yet. I think this is a long process we must all endure.
Amina: Trends and cycles have always been part of what fashion is all about. I don’t think this should be eradicated. But of course, buying and wearing something for that one Instagram moment is all wrong. While fashion companies can lessen collection releases, the consumer would also have to change mindset and not expect “newness” at a click of a button.

How does one reflect the opportunity and our obligation to rebuild?
Paloma: For Piopio, the rebuilding started the day lockdown began. We restructured our business plan to pivot and adapt and have been making significant changes since then to reflect this new world we are going into. We have localized our operations even more and made a promise to support artisanal communities throughout the lockdown to ensure they were being taken care of while everything was at a standstill.
Amina: My answer to this is why we started the Philippine Fashion Coalition. PFC is an alliance of all fashion professionals (designers, manufactures, freelancers, retailers, fashion event companies, makeup artists, etc.). This coalition is long overdue.

Do you believe style or fashion is an essential in the era of Covid-19?
Bea: To be honest, style as an outward expression of aesthetic is really not of relevance at this point, but style as a form of coping with the current crisis has helped so many. Fashion in terms of marketing and commerce really took a backseat, but the fashion industry quickly came through by manufacturing PPE and non-medical grade protective wear, which again has helped so many.
Keri: I’ve always loved fashion and although now it’s not my top priority, I feel good when I make an effort to dress up even if I’m just at home. It does help brighten my mood.
Amina: Style is always essential. It is a form of self-expression, a creative outlet, a way to communicate, a morale boost. Whether one admits it or not, everyone possesses their own style.
Paloma: I believe that for some, fashion is a form of expression and therefore they may want to dress a certain way to stimulate and express themselves even in the era of Covid-19. If it makes you happy then do it. I also believe that for some businesses such as mine, which provide a livelihood for artisans, keeping our business going is in my mind, an essential for everyone that depends on us.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/16/dress-for-the-future-you-want/)