Philippine Fashion: Making Milestones

Once upon a time, Philippine fashion was conservative, very compromising, and afraid to venture outside of its comfort zone. Most “statements” in Philippine fashion were timid and looked pretty much like more refined versions of Western fashion trends.
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But Philippine fashion has gone a long way. Magazines focusing on Philippine fashion are featuring less foreign names and more local designers. And, slowly but surely, more Filipinos are becoming household names in the international front.
Because Philippine fashion has taken great steps toward freedom of expression, one starts to wonder why. Although Filipinos are family-oriented and have a culture rich in old-fashioned values, it is apparent that Filipino women have become bolder, stronger, and more competitive through the years. A lot of Filipino women now hold important positions even in departments and industries that used to be run by a gamut of men. In fact, the country has elected two lady presidents in under three decades.
Philippine fashion is no longer a statement of conformity; it is now a statement of independence. Perhaps freedom as a “fashion trend” isn’t much of a surprise; after all, the Filipino people have struggled to free themselves from conquerors and dictators for centuries. And they have their freedom still intact.
In terms of Philippine fashion, more and more women now experiment with shapes and colors. Perhaps more Filipinas have yet to wear less jeans t-shirts; however, a stroll in the mall reveals how many women refuse to be caught in such a bleak-looking ensemble. Wearing sleeveless and tube tops used to be frowned upon; now, and quite rightfully considering the tropical climate in this country, women wear their tank tops and spaghetti straps with confidence, furthering the cause for freedom from stereotypes in the arena of Philippine fashion.
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Even with the absence of many foreign designer labels in the Philippines, a few well-established ones are already making their mark in Philippine fashion. Designers in the Philippines have learned to become proud of their Filipino heritage, capitalizing on Philippine resources for their fabrics and materials. One good example is Tina Maristela-Ocampo, the famous Filipina behind Celestina bags who uses shells, wood, and other materials found proudly in the Philippines. Celestina bags are a great representative of how far Filipinos can go in the Philippine fashion industry.
As more Filipino designers continue to struggle for originality and boldness in Philippine fashion, the Philippines is fast becoming a little haven of style. Maybe, in the future, we no longer have to resort to Louis Vuitton or Balenciaga; perhaps “Juan dela Cruz” shall become enough of a fashion name.


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