Interview by JOHN LEGASPI

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In the past months, the role of the fashion industry quickly evolved from creating fantasies to helping frontliners fight the coronavirus in any possible way.

Much like other business, the industry is deeply affected by the pandemic. While some may think that fashion is not essential during this time, many Filipinos are holding onto it to make a living. Behind the scenes are fashion designers, retail workers, freelance artists, sewers, textile producers, and cultural groups who are finding ways to survive while many of the industry’s functions are on hold.

With the pause brought by the pandemic, the local fashion scene is thinking of ways to help one another to keep the industry going. Through Philippine Fashion Coalition, an initiative led by fashion professionals, the industry will now have a united voice in bringing up its woes. It will also be an avenue to propagate local businesses, and a platform that will provide long-term solutions for the time when the industry will be hit hard again.

Fashion show director and supporter of local fashion industry, Jackie Aquino, chats with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle about the vision of the PFC, how it came to be, and why fashion is still relevant even in times of crisis.

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Jackie Aquino of JCA Productions

How did the PFC start? Are you working with other industry professionals on this initiative?

After the New Normal… Fashion for Healing video was shown, I got a call from accessory designer Carissa Cruz Evangelista. She asked if we can do a second installment featuring Fashion Accessory Makers of the Philippines, this time highlighting the need to protect our cultural heritage and the craftsmanship of local artisans and other communities. Then, Carmina Sanchez Jacob invited me to a Zoom meeting, together with designers JC Buendia, Amina Aranaz-Alunan, Len Cabili, events director Robby Carmona, and Carissa. There, Carissa presented the initiative to form an umbrella organization that will include all sectors of our industry. Before the meeting was over, the Philippine Fashion Coalition was born.

We are now in the process of inviting other members of the industry to be part of the core group. For now, we sent out initial invitations nationwide so we can have an idea on how really big the industry is. We will also partner with all the fashion-related associations nationwide.

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Screenshot of New Normal… Fashion for Healing

What is the goal of the PFC?

PFC will be an alliance of all fashion professionals, from apparel and accessory designers, artisan brands, and retailers to events companies, hair and makeup artists, collection stylists, fashion PR/marketing companies, fashion press and bloggers, photographers, models and their agencies. The fashion industry, more than ever, needs one uniting Business Support Organization (BSO) for all its sectors. PFC aims to be the umbrella organization that will advocate for the needs and concerns of all fashion professionals. One of the goals of PFC is to study and propose a fashion industry policy to the government in order to aid its roadmap to recovery and growth, and to support its member associations and create a plan during this post-pandemic phase that can be sustained moving forward.

The fashion industry, more than ever, needs one uniting Business Support Organization (BSO) for all its sectors. Philippine Fashion Coalition aims to be the umbrella organization that will advocate for the needs and concerns of all fashion professionals.

Do you think that fashion is still important during this time of crisis

Culture is defined by its artistic heritage, may it be visual arts, music, dance, literature, cultural communities, and costumes. The climate of the times is best represented in what we see every day, which includes what we wear.

Our clothes best describe the mood of the era. In this time of crisis, the importance of going back to basics and protective apparel is now an essential part of the new normal. Form and function still go hand in hand. Also, part of the human spirit still includes the need to not just look good but feel good.

What lesson should the fashion industry learn from this pandemic?

Like everything in life we need to change and adapt. Now more than ever, we need to be united as one voice with a common purpose. It’s long overdue. If we all move forward together, just imagine what we can all achieve.

Be part of Philippine Fashion Coalition by signing up here.

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