This Four-Day Conference Will Help Your Local Fashion Brand Go Global
As we can glean from the boutiques, bazaars, pop-up stores, and innumerable local brands that we discover on Instagram perhaps every day, the Philippines is long on sartorial creativity. But while this passionate spirit is commendable, there is still weakness in the growth of the local market, and it all boils down to practitioners’ business sense. While some have a natural talent for entrepreneurship, others enter the market one-eye blind in the hopes of becoming successful, and by the looks of all the amazing designers we have, they usually do.
Fashion in our country, however, can still push its limits and this is what the team behind PHx Fashion Conference tries to address, as its ultimate goal is to educate young fashion designers or local brands on how to effectively penetrate the Japanese fashion market.
The PHx Fashion Conference isn’t your run-of-the-mill series of fashion talks. The four-day conference can be said to be the first of its kind in the city, as it brings together creatives from the local fashion scene as well as inspirational individuals from overseas, and even key players from government agencies as well, such as the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI) through its agency, the Philippine Training Trade Center (PTTC).
"We are looking forward to hopefully having this conference once a year and adding to it and including other markets aside from Japan. We are really committed to making this part of the conversation that young designers will use every year," said project adviser Tetta Ortiz-Matera.
One keyword that the project’s team emphasized was ‘holistic.’ The conference creates the perfect blend of information regarding creativity and entrepreneurship by featuring speakers from both sides of the spectrum. Amina Aranaz-Alunan, president of the Fashion and Design Council of the Philippines and founder of ARANAZ, will be joined by fashion retailer Mike Concepcion, designer Carl Jan Cruz, co-founder of Tokyo-based skincare brand Damdam Giselle Go, Tokyo-based designer Johann Manas, and Proudrace designer Rik Rasos. That’s only the tip of the iceberg, as more speakers on the roster will be announced soon.
"The design aspect is there and the Filipinos are talented. We need training on exposure and on the business side. It is something that will translate to a bigger scale. It is something that is timely as the fashion world is focusing on the Asian market and we want to grow as an industry—not as individuals," said Seph Bagasao, a member of the PHx organization.
The focal point of the conference consists of many facets of the Japanese fashion market such as its culture, patterns, export costings and pricings, and mode of distribution. International representatives will inspire local brands to consider entering other markets as well. These speakers include Hirohito Suzuki of H3O Fashion Bureau which discovers emerging brands and connects them to the Japanese market, and Jason Lee Coates, an award-winning Australian fashion director. To equip designers with insights on how to strengthen their respective brands, they will conduct a portfolio review for 16 pre-selected participants.
Aranaz-Alunan strongly believes in the power of sharing information, especially given her firsthand experiences as a designer. "There is a lot of growth in the Philippine market but I think that it is also our responsibility to tell the Filipino story to the rest of the world through what we do best, design. There is a place for us in the international market. Personally, for my own brand, I had to figure my way through on my own. There was no one to ask 'What do I do?'"
"We want to share this [knowledge] with the next generation of designers who I know will be able to achieve so much more than [what] the current group of designers has accomplished."
Bridging the gap
Judging by the audience’s reactions during the press conference, the most exciting and intriguing part of the conference would be the involvement of the Philippine Training and Trade Center (PTTC). Heads were nodding as Nelly Dillera, deputy executive director of PTTC, explained how fashion entrepreneurs are not aware of the resources offered by government agencies such as the DTI. This is an aspect of the business of fashion that was never really explored before.
"There are a lot of government agencies with programs that have to do with the fashion industry. We just have to know what those programs are because no one agency can provide everything. We are talking about a whole body of change, [for] example: Raw materials that make use of abaca—there are agencies that can provide support for them like the Department of Agriculture or the Philippine National Timber Production Association."
To cater to this concern, there will be a Skills & Trade fair during the conference. Here, artisans and representatives of raw material suppliers, such as textiles, for example, will be showcasing their skills and goods.
This is the first time that an event of this kind will be held in the country, and young designers are looking forward to immersing themselves in the pool of knowledge that PHx has to offer.
PHx Fashion Conference will be held from November 11-14, 2019 at the Philippine Trade Training Center, corner Sen. Gil Puyat, Makati City. Get your tickets at phxfashion.org. https://www.phxfashion.org/