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Fashion Filipino Fashion Designers Give Back During This State Of Calamity

Filipino Fashion Designers Give Back During This State Of Calamity

Filipino Fashion Designers Give Back During This State Of Calamity
By Monique Madsen
By Monique Madsen
March 27, 2020
The Philippine fashion industry is responding to the urgent call of our healthcare workers in need of masks and personal protective equipment (PPE). A few of the designers below share their stories with us, on how they began to join the fight of shielding our frontliners from coronavirus, and in hopes of getting more people from the industry inspired to do the same:

Rajo Laurel

1) How did this idea of creating protective gear for frontliners come about? What (or who) inspired you?

This initiative really began with designer and friend Mich Dulce, and with my desire to help, I took on this big opportunity of doing something for our community.

2) What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome to achieve this?

At first, the biggest challenge was getting approval for my skeletal team to operate at our Makati factory. We are currently in lockdown which makes mobility difficult, and then there is social distancing that we  need to abide by. We created stringent protocols on hygiene from disinfecting the factory, to making sure our workers limit interaction with each other. We are moved to do everything we can with the limited resources we have, due to the strong need of our medical frontliners for sufficient PPE's or hazmat suits. After I received the right specifications to create the non-medical grade protective gear (an alternative for health workers), what we needed to do next, was source the right fabric and proceed with the technical construction. Amidst all these challenges, we have successfully created initial samples which can now be distributed to those who would like to produce and help.

3) What advice would you give those who would like to help in their own little way, but don’t know where to start?

For those who want to help, please share information on how we can get our hands on medical-grade materials so we can try and create proper PPE's that can be used by our medical frontliners. It is important that the PPE's we create can actually be utilised. For my co-designers, we will be sharing prototypes of the non-medical grade protective gear to everyone, very soon, so we can work effectively and efficiently. In addition to that, let's keep practicing social distancing and work from home as much as possible, while trying to conduct this project. It is a dangerous situation we are all in, there is no room for mistakes here, because if we create hazmat suits the wrong way, we can potentially be placing our frontliners in further danger.

A sketch by Rajo Laurel
A sketch by Rajo Laurel

Patty Ang

Photo by: Jeff Ong
Photo by: Jeff Ong

1) How did this idea of creating protective gear for frontliners come about? What (or who) inspired you?

I saw a post online that's been going around about what frontliners need the most right now - PPE's were one of them. I have an in-house staff made up of sewers and tailors in my atelier, and they were all willing to get to work and help create protective gear, as well as scrubs for our health workers! 

2) What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome to achieve this?

The biggest challenge was acquiring materials, my stocks have been used up. I posted on my instagram account, asking for help and donations. I let people know what we are trying to achieve. The response was phenomenal, not only did we get to gather the necessary textiles, some people donated food for my in-house staff too. I am in awe at everyone's generous spirit, and how we are all creating a community of hope by binding together at a difficult time like this. We set out to create and produce as long as the need is there, so please for anyone reading this, keep the donations of fabrics and materials coming. Thank you in advance.

3) What advice would you give those who would like to help in their own little way, but don’t know where to start?

There are a lot of ways to help, it doesn’t necessarily mean you need to make or create something. Food, or a small amount, pay it forward. Any small act at this point will have a ripple effect on our nation as a whole. I encourage everyone to simply look around you and ask yourselves: what can I live without? Someone in need might make good use of it.

Puey Quiñones

Photo by: Christian Jay Bulda
Photo by: Christian Jay Bulda

1) How did this idea of creating protective gear for frontliners come about? What (or who) inspired you?

One day, a friend of mine messaged me asking if I know someone that can make a hazmat suit. I told her I think I can do it, as long as we have the right materials and specifications. Shortly after, upon doing my own research I was led to Mich Dulce’s instagram post looking for volunteers to make the PPE's and I messaged her, I told her I would very much want to help. She sent me a copy of the specifications, and my friend Cathy Binag, ordered 500 yards of spun-bond fabric to help me out. Luckily, some friends pledged more materials like zippers and garters. I have an in-house seamstresses, who I am very grateful for, she has been sewing day and night since we started this project in hopes of helping as many people as we possibly can.

2) What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome to achieve this?

For me, it hasn't been that hard because thankfully I was able to source materials quickly through friends, who were all very willing to help. I am more nervous about the execution; because the construction is very technical, and needs to be done in a precise manner.

3) What advice would you give those who would like to help in their own little way, but don’t know where to start?

I know it has been said plenty of times, but the best way to help is first, to stay at home. Second, check your social media and see if there is anything you can help in or donate just from being at home. Maybe you can just start with donating useful fabrics and materials that you find lying around your house. Or if you have more than enough food, why not cook homemade meals and give food to other frontliners such as security guards? Lastly, and most importantly, don't forget to offer a prayer for those who have it harder than most of us. 

A sketch by Puey Quiñones
A sketch by Puey Quiñones

RJ Santos

Photo by: Shaira Luna
Photo by: Shaira Luna

1) How did this idea of creating protective gear for frontliners come about? What (or who) inspired you?

When we heard about the news regarding shortage of masks, we decided to help by creating them ourselves. The first batch of masks that we made were given to the trash collectors in our municipality. We know that the nurses and doctors needed the medical grade masks more than we do, so we gave people around us this alternative. We used retasos (scraps of fabric), that are water repellent for the shell and an absorbent fabric for the lining. Right now, I'm part of an initiative by designer Mich Dulce and the Vice President of the Philippines Leni Robredo, in the production of non-medical grade hazmat suits.

2) What has been the biggest challenge you had to overcome to achieve this?

The biggest challenge right now is that we're low on some fabrics and trims that are needed to finish the masks and other PPE items. Since the start of the community quarantine a lot of my suppliers have closed shops. However, we have quite a generous community of designers who are all helping and encouraging each other. 

3) What advice would you give those who would like to help in their own little way, but don’t know where to start?

Spend time doing ample research, there is so much information online nowadays, the nation is pulling through, giving each other a helping hand. Share your talent, your skills, your resources for free. This to me is the silver lining in all this, more than ever, I am a witness to people's generosity and selflessness. Big or small, let's all do our part!

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