March 2018 Cover Story Part 1: Liz Uy, From Manila To The World
The term ‘influencer’ has been tossed around on and off the web for quite some time now. Many internet personalities with a growing following develop an affinity with this buzzword, tacking it onto their social media accounts and mixing it in with the rest of their biography in the ‘About Me’ tabs of their websites. The online Cambridge Dictionary defines an influencer as someone who affects or changes the way people behave. This annoints the term a little more gravitas than we normally associate it with, given how casually it is bandied about. Heart Evangelista-Escudero, Kim Jones, and Liz Uy, who have been on the radar well before the advent of social media, are influencers in every sense of the word, especially in the fashion sphere. We flock to their Instagram accounts, eager to know who they are wearing, where they are travelling to, and what their next projects might be. Yet these women are more than what they wear; they are representative of years of hard work, a drive to put one’s self out there, and a vision that continues to resonate with a wide audience.
The Liz Biz
It was at the height of the Sex and the City hype that Liz Uy began to take an interest in fashion, mixing and matching her varying wardrobe staples to create edgy new looks. Then a Hotel, Restaurant, and Institution Management student at the De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde, she was often told that she was a good fit for a fashion design course. Her experiments were a celebration of hits and misses; Uy looks back on what she describes as “flops” with amusement rather than regret, as she is all about the learning process.
“Despite having already developed my style identity, there is still a need to capitalize on what’s in at the moment because trends are what the industry revolves around,” Uy says. “That’s where the challenge is for fashion editors because we have to seek unique ways to incorporate the trends—and there are hundreds of ways to do so—into our personal style. We have to make sure we are not plateauing.”
This stylist to the stars has dressed many A-listers. But long before that, Uy was at the bottom rung of the fashion ladder as an editorial assistant for Preview. She would do all the grunt work: steaming clothes, pulling out and returning borrowed items, and taking charge of ordering meals at shoots. And though she now has a bevy of well-trained staff to handle all such tasks, she doesn’t mind the unglamorous aspects of the job, always happy to tape down the sole of a shoe if there is a need.
“What I enjoy most about what I do is getting to share my vision and my happiness with others. If a celebrity, for example, feels good in something I put them in, then they can channel this positivity to their audience. Of course, there are times when a client and I do not see eye-to-eye; I respect that because they have their own style and know what they want. In those cases, I’ll just come in as an editor that makes sure they look perfect before they go out into the world,” Uy enthuses.
Last year, word broke out that Uy was added to the roster of creatives represented by New York-based talent agency The Society Management—the very first Filipino to make it. Always humble, she remains every bit grateful, saying, “As someone who used to do things by herself, it’s always great to have some form of help. Being part of this team also keeps me inspired because I get to collaborate with other creatives. Though I am in a good place in my life, I am still able to learn so much.”
For the emerging influencers of today, it’s a bit of a different ballgame. Everything is laid out and easily accessed at the click of a mouse button, and there are more and more avenues we can utilise to better educate ourselves on varying matters. “Though there are pros and cons, everybody can now become someone because of a well-curated, visually strong Instagram account,” she adds. “More and more content creators are hopping on the bandwagon and turning it into a business, which is fantastic because it has become so much easier for newcomers to have their dreams within reach. In my time, we didn’t have access to such opportunities, but I am proud of where I came from because we know the value of passion and hard work. Also—and I feel this is the biggest lesson—I hope that newcomers understand how important it is to be kind to others as well.”
Photography: BJ Pascual | This story is first published in the March 2018 fashion issue of Philippine Tatler, available in all leading newsstands and bookstores, and downloadable via Magzter, Zinio, and Pressreader.